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Flexibilities Available for Childbirth

U.S. Office of Personnel Management

The Federal Government offers numerous leave and work scheduling flexibilities to assist employees in meeting their work and family obligations. The administration of these flexibilities typically is addressed in agency internal policies and/or collective bargaining agreements.


Sick Leave


A birth mother is entitled to use accrued sick leave for medical appointments, hospitalization, and her period of incapacitation following childbirth. A birth father may use a total of up to 12 weeks of accrued sick leave each year to accompany the mother to prenatal appointments, to be with her during her period of hospitalization, and/or to care for her during her recovery period. (Most doctors certify that the recovery period is about 6 weeks.) An agency may request administratively acceptable evidence of the mother’s period of incapacitation for the use of sick leave.

Both parents may use up to 12 weeks of sick leave each year to care for a child with a serious health condition. Both parents may use up to 13 days of that 12-week period to care for a child with a minor illness or to accompany a child to a medical, dental, or optical appointment. An agency may request administratively acceptable evidence of a child’s illness or treatment. Parents may not use sick leave to be absent from work to bond with or care for a healthy child.

A mother may use accrued annual leave for pregnancy and childbirth, a father may use accrued annual leave to care for the mother during pregnancy and childbirth, and both parents may use accrued annual leave to be absent from work to bond with or care for a healthy newborn. The use of annual leave is subject to the right of the supervisor to approve a time at which annual leave may be taken.


Advance Annual and/or Sick Leave


An agency may advance employees annual and/or sick leave for purposes related to childbirth. An agency may advance the amount of annual leave an employee would accrue during the remainder of the leave year. An agency may advance a maximum of 30 days of sick leave to a mother during her period of incapacitation for pregnancy and childbirth or to care for a child who is ill. An agency also may advance up to 30 days of sick leave to a father to care for the mother during her period of incapacitation for pregnancy and childbirth or to care for a child who is ill.


Family and Medical Leave


Each parent is entitled to use a total of up to 12 weeks of leave without pay under the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) for the birth of a child and care of the newborn. Subject to the supervisor’s approval, FMLA leave may be used on an intermittent basis for absences in connection with childbirth and care of the newborn. An employee may elect to substitute annual leave and/or sick leave for any or all of the leave without pay used under the FMLA, consistent with the laws and regulations for using annual and sick leave. (See SICK LEAVE, above, for the limitations on the use of sick leave for family care.) An employee’s entitlement to FMLA leave expires 12 months following the date of birth of a child.


Donated Leave under the Voluntary Leave Transfer and Leave Bank Programs


If either the mother or father exhausts her or his sick and/or annual leave, she or he may receive donated annual leave under the employing agency’s voluntary leave transfer and/or leave bank programs. These programs allow Federal employees to donate annual leave to assist another Federal employee who has a personal or family medical emergency (including pregnancy and childbirth) and who has exhausted her or his own available paid leave. An employee may receive donated annual leave from both the agency leave transfer and leave bank programs. Donated annual leave may be used only for a medical emergency – e.g., the mother’s period of incapacitation or the illness of a child – and may not be used to care for a healthy child.


Leave Without Pay


Subject to supervisory approval, both parents may use leave without pay for pregnancy and childbirth or to be absent from work to bond with or care for a healthy newborn. Supervisors should refer to agency internal policy and negotiated bargaining union agreements prior to approval.


Flexible Work Schedules


If the work requirements and agency needs permit, an employee may consider working a flexible work schedule. Flexible work schedules enable employees to select and alter their work schedules to better fit their personal needs and help balance work, personal, and family responsibilities.


Teleworking


Under an agency’s telework policy, new parents may be permitted to work at home or from a remote telework site. Teleworking can provide employees with valuable additional time to spend with their family members by reducing commuting time. However, teleworkers should not be caring for family members while they are working from their home or alternative worksite.


Return to Leave and Holidays page.


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