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Parental Bereavement Leave

The National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2022 (Section 1111) created a new parental leave category, paid parental bereavement leave. Most Federal employees are entitled to up to two workweeks (generally 80 hours) of paid bereavement leave during any 12-month period due to the death of a son or daughter occurring on or after December 27, 2021. Employees may request to substitute use of bereavement leave for other paid leave (no earlier December 27, 2021). 

Parental bereavement leave is a new, stand-alone type of paid leave entitlement that is administered independently from any other type of leave, including sick leave for family care and bereavement, annual leave, or other time off. Use of bereavement leave does not impact accrual or balances of other paid leave or paid time off.

Bereavement leave and Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) leave limitations are separately administered, therefore bereavement leave may not be substituted for FMLA unpaid leave. Instead, requests to use FMLA leave, sick leave, and bereavement leave in combination can be granted (For example, in the event a child dies during the post-birth recovery period for an employee who gave birth to the child, the employee may be able to use FMLA leave, sick leave, or bereavement leave during certain periods of time.)

Bereavement leave may be on or after the date death of an employee’s child. In most cases bereavement leave is used continuously unless otherwise approved by the supervisor.

Eligible Employees
An individual is eligible for bereavement leave if the person meets the definition of “employee” in 5 USC 6381 at the time of the child’s death:

  •  The individual is serving under a permanent or term appointment (i.e., does not have a temporary appointment of 1 year or less);
  • The individual has an established part-time or full-time work schedule (i.e., does not have an intermittent work schedule; and
  • The individual has completed at least 12 months of service as an employee.

To be eligible to take bereavement leave, an employee must be in a pay status and cannot be placed in nonduty/nonpay status.

Leave Entitlement
Limitation in 12-month period. An eligible employee cannot receive more than two workweeks of bereavement leave in any 12-month period.

  • The 12-month period begins on date of the death of a child (or on the date of death for multiple children on the same day) and continues for 12 months. After that 12-month period expires, another 12-month period will not begin unless there is another later use of bereavement leave based on another child’s death.
  • If one or more children of an employee dies at a later time during a 12-month period associated with the earlier death of another child of the employee, each later death will result in the commencement of a corresponding 12-month period. Thus, an employee may have overlapping 12-month periods. Any use of bereavement leave during an overlap period including parts of more than one 12-month period will count against the 2-week limit for each affected 12-month period.

Definition of “son or daughter.”

  • Son or daughter means
    • A biological, adopted, step, or foster son or daughter of the employee;
    • A person who is a legal ward or was a legal ward of the employee when that individual was a minor or required a legal guardian;
    • A person for whom the employee stands in loco parentis or stood in loco parentis when that individual was a minor or required someone to stand in loco parentis.

Conversion to Hours. The two workweek leave entitlement is converted to hours based on the number of hours in the employee’s scheduled tour of duty (at the time the 12-month period of leave eligibility begins):

  •  For a full-time employee with an 80 hours scheduled tour of duty in a biweekly pay period, the two workweeks is 80 hours.
  • For a full-time employee with an uncommon tour of duty, the two workweeks is equal to the number of hours in the employee’s biweekly scheduled tour of duty (or the average hours if the biweekly tour hours vary over an established cycle).
    • For example, if an employee has an uncommon tour consisting of six 24-hour shifts (144 hours) per biweekly pay period, the leave entitlement would be 144 hours.
  • For a part-time employee, the two workweeks is equal to the number of hours over a biweekly pay period based on the employee’s scheduled tour of duty.
    • For example, if an employee has a part-time scheduled tour of duty that consists of 40 hours in a biweekly pay period, the leave entitlement would be 40 hours.

Change in tour of duty. If there is a change in an employee’s scheduled tour of duty before the employee has used the full 2-workweek allotment of bereavement leave, the remaining balance of bereavement leave is recalculated based on the change in the number of average hours in the employee’s scheduled tour of duty.

Ineligibility. An employee is ineligible for bereavement leave if the employee is found by proper authority to have deliberately caused the death of the child. Any bereavement leave provided to the employee prior to the finding of culpability must be retroactively canceled. Additionally, an employee who suffers a miscarriage or stillbirth is ineligible for bereavement leave, and may consider other available leave options including FMLA for the recovery/care of the mother.

Unused balance at transfer or separation. If an employee with an unused balance of bereavement leave transfers between eligible positions, the bereavement leave balance transfers with the employee as long as the employee is within the 12-month eligibility period for bereavement leave. If an employee has an unused balance of bereavement leave at the time of separation from Federal service, any right to the unused amount of leave is extinguished unless the employee returns to an eligible Federal position within the 12-month eligibility period. Cash payment cannot be issued for unused bereavement leave at any time, including transfer to another agency or separation from Federal service.