President Joe Biden on Thursday issued a memo encouraging federal agencies to support paid and unpaid leave for federal employees, even if they haven’t accrued enough time off, and in circumstances of dating violence.

Normally, workers must have worked for at least 12 months to be eligible for the Family and Medical Leave Act, so the memo targets those who have not yet met their one-year anniversary and prods agencies to report on how they will support employees within the year.

“Paid leave policies benefit both employees and employers and will strengthen our economy as a whole,” Biden said.

The announcement comes three days before the 30th anniversary of the FMLA. The law, signed in 1993 by former President Bill Clinton, expanded leave benefits for public agencies, schools and companies with 50 or more employees.

Under FMLA, most federal employees are entitled to up to 12 weeks of unpaid, job-protected leave in a year for the birth or care of a child, caretaking of an ill family member, personal medical needs or other qualifying hardships due to required military service.

“Federal employees need access to extended family and medical leave, particularly during their first year of federal service when they may not have accrued sufficient leave and are not yet eligible for leave under [FMLA],” Biden said in the memo.

The memo makes the case for employees who may be in dual roles that support a household financially and care for those who live in it. Coming out of the pandemic, one in four 18 to 34-year-olds became carers for the first time, according to the Carer Well-Being Index, a global research study.

Enhancing federal benefits have also become a tool for recruitment and retention especially if pay lags the private sector, as Federal Salary Council reports show it did by 24% last year.

The memo also charges the director of the Office of Personnel Management with providing recommendations to support access to paid or unpaid leave “for purposes related to seeking safety and recovering from domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault, or stalking.”

That can include, for example, getting physical or mental health treatment, seeking help from an outside organization, relocating, taking legal action or assisting a family member in any of that.

If FMLA isn’t an option, sick leave can be substituted for health issues, family care, bereavement and adoptions, though it is subject to certain caps depending on the situation.

There is no limitation on the amount of sick leave that can be accumulated. Full-time employees accrue half a day for each biweekly pay period. Part-time employees get one hour for each 20 hours of work.

Last month, the Pentagon declared service members can can take up to 12 weeks of parental leave in the year following the birth of a child, Military Times reported.

Molly Weisner is a staff reporter for Federal Times where she covers labor, policy and contracting pertaining to the government workforce. She made previous stops at USA Today and McClatchy as a digital producer, and worked at The New York Times as a copy editor. Molly majored in journalism at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

In Other News
Load More