Benefits >> Browse Articles >> Family Flexibility


Sick Leave to Care for a Family Member with a Serious Health Condition

U.S. Office of Personnel Management


Most Federal employees may use a total of up to 12 administrative workweeks of sick leave each leave year to care for a family member with a serious health condition. If an employee previously has used any portion of the 13 days of sick leave for general family care or bereavement purposes in a leave year, that amount must be subtracted from the 12-week entitlement. If an employee has already used 12 weeks of sick leave to care for a family member with a serious health condition, he or she cannot use an additional 13 days in the same leave year for general family care purposes. An employee is entitled to a total of 12 weeks of sick leave each year for all family care purposes.

Definition of Family Member

“Family member” is defined as: spouse, and parents thereof; children, including adopted children, and spouses thereof; parents; brothers and sisters, and spouses thereof; and any individual related by blood or affinity whose close association with the employee is the equivalent of a family relationship.

Serious Health Condition

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. The term “serious health condition” 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.


At the discretion of the agency, an employee may be advanced a maximum of 30 days of sick leave (or a proportional amount for an employee on a part-time schedule or uncommon tour of duty) to provide care for a family member with a serious health condition.

Return to Sick Leave page.

Return to Leave and Holidays page.

Govcentral School Finder

Save time in your search for a degree program. Use Govcentral's School Finder to locate schools online and in your area.

* In the event that we cannot find a program from one of our partner schools that matches your specific area of interest, we may show schools with similar or unrelated programs.