The Federal Employees Family Friendly Leave Act, or Family Friendly Leave Act, became effective in 1994. It expired three years later, but its concepts of sick leave for family care and bereavement absences are incorporated in present law at 5 USC 6307 and OPM's sick leave regulations at 5 CFR 630.401. The sick leave definitions are at 5 CFR 630.201.
Sick leave for family care or bereavement grants Federal employees up to 104 hours (13 days) of sick leave, each year, to adopt a child, to care for a family member, or to arrange for or attend the funeral of a family member.
- Leave used under these provisions is paid sick leave and is normally available for up to 104 hours. For part-time employees or employees with uncommon tours of duty, the leave time is generally limited to the number of hours of sick leave normally accrued during a leave year.
- Employees who provide care for a family member with a serious health condition may take up to 480 hours of sick leave. Part-time employees or employees with uncommon tours of duty, may be take a leave amount that is equal to 12 times the average number of hours in their scheduled tour of duty each week.
- The 480 hours (12 weeks) allowed to care for a family member with a serious health condition is reduced by any sick leave up to 104 hours that is taken for family care or bereavement.
- Employees who use the full 480 hours to care for a family member may not use further sick leave for family care or bereavement.
The sick leave entitlement for family care or bereavement must be recalculated based on changes to employees’ tour of duty.
- The sick leave for family care or bereavement provisions allows employees to take sick leave when they:
- Are incapacitated from illness, injury, pregnancy or childbirth
- Provide care for a family member who is incapacitated by a health condition, or to attend to a family member receiving medical, dental or optical treatment.
- Provide care for a family member with a serious health condition.
- Attend or arrange a family member's funeral.
- Must be absent for reasons relating to the adoption of a child. This includes appointments with adoption agencies, social workers and attorneys; court proceedings; required travel; and any other activities necessary to facilitate the adoption.
The sick leave for family care or bereavement provisions range of eligible family members includes siblings, in-laws, and "any individual related by blood or affinity whose close association with the employee is the equivalent of a family relationship". A presidential memorandum issued on June 17, 2009, called on agencies and OPM to include same-sex domestic partners wherever practical in federal benefits. Previous practice allowed agencies and supervisors to use their judgment as to whether or not to include same-sex partners in the category "any individual related by blood or affinity." On Sept. 14, 2009, OPM issued proposed regulations that would change the definition of family member and immediate relative for purposes of sick leave, funeral leave, voluntary leave transfer, voluntary leave bank, and emergency leave transfer. The regulations provide more specific examples of relationships that are covered under "any individual related by blood or affinity." Examples include same- and opposite-sex domestic partners, grandparents, and grandchildren.
- The term "serious health condition" has the same meaning as used in OPM's regulations for administering the Family and Medical Leave Act of 1993 (FMLA). That definition includes such conditions as cancer, heart attacks, strokes, severe injuries, Alzheimer's disease, pregnancy, and childbirth. It is not intended to cover short-term conditions for which treatment and recovery are very brief. The common cold, the flu, earaches, upset stomach, headaches (other than migraines), routine dental or orthodontia problems, etc., are not serious health conditions unless complications arise. The agency may require medical certification of a serious health condition.
- When required, a maximum of 30 sick leave days may be advanced to full-time employees for a serious disability or ailment, or for the adoption of a child.
- The maximum amount of sick leave an agency may advance part time employees or employees on uncommon tours of duty must be prorated according to the number of hours in the employees’ regularly scheduled administrative workweeks.
Employees may be issued Letters of Requirement and directed to obtain medical certification for every instance of sick leave use if it is suspected they may be abusing the sick leave for family care or bereavement provisions.