FMLA’s 24-Hour Leave Without Pay Policy Applies To Same Sex Domestic Partners

The Office of Personnel Management (OPM) has recently issued a memorandum requiring the federal government’s 24-hour leave without pay ((LWOP) family support policy be made available to federal employees’ same-sex domestic partners and their children.

In 1997, the 24-hour LWOP policy was established while changes to the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) were being discussed. The FMLA allows eligible employees to take up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave annually for individual’s own serious health conditions, to care for a family member’s serious health condition or for the birth or care of a newborn or adopted child.

Recently, the Department of Labor broadened the FMLA to allow same sex partners leave rights to care for non-biological children when they act “in loco parentis.” However, the FMLA was not amended to include the 24-hour LWOP provision.

In order to address this provision and in furtherance of President Obama’s intention, the OPM requested that agencies permit federal employees in same sex domestic partnerships to take up to 24 hours of LWOP in a leave year for school and early childhood educational activities, routine family medical purposes, and elderly relatives’ health or care needs.

As stated in the memoranda, each agency “should analyze its existing policies and make revisions as appropriate, to incorporate language that will support Federal employees’ with same-sex domestic partners use of up to 24 hours LWOP each leave year to support the three activities.”

Although the FMLA’s scope has been broadened it remains an extremely complicated law with a number of detailed requirements, including strict time limits, complicated notice obligations and medical certification notices.

For more information, or if you are considering requesting a leave of absence or a getting ready to return to work and are concerned about retaliation, contact Buckley Bala Wilson Mew LLP, a Georgia Law Firm dedicated to protecting employee’s rights.