OPM extends federal leave without pay to same-sex couples

Federal employees with same-sex partners now are eligible for leave without pay to handle routine education and medical needs of their families -- a benefit long available to heterosexual couples.

A Sept. 10 memo from Office of Personnel Management Director John Berry directs agency chief human capital officers to extend annually 24 hours of leave without pay to federal employees and their same-sex domestic partners. The benefit would allow employees with same-sex domestic partners to attend school functions, such as parent-teacher conferences and volunteer activities; accompany children to medical and dental appointments; and care for elderly relatives, including attending routine appointments and arranging for housing or food needs.

Berry said agencies should revise their LWOP policies to include language supporting these benefits for federal employees and their domestic partners.

Berry's memo follows a number of steps the Obama administration has taken to extend long-term care benefits and family and parental leave flexibilities to same-sex partners of federal employees. President Clinton in 1997 introduced the LWOP policy and encouraged Congress to add the guidelines as an amendment to the 1993 Family and Medical Leave Act, though the legislation never passed. President Obama in June reiterated support for the policy, extended it to employees with same-sex domestic partners and ordered OPM to act on a number of benefits that could be provided without further legislative change, including child care subsidies and services; noncompetitive job appointments overseas; evacuation payments; and employee assistance programs.

That action resulted from a 2009 presidential memo directing department and agency heads to begin internal reviews to determine if they could offer additional benefits to same-sex employees.

Leonard Hirsch, president of Federal GLOBE, an affinity group for gay and lesbian federal employees, said the LWOP benefit is another step toward the equal treatment of all workers.

"It's important for those day-to-day parental activities that contemporary families need to do," said Hirsch. "In terms of the amount of time taken, it's minimal, but what it does is, it increases productivity rather than be a drain. That's because it means people who might take this leave will be more productive in other hours, and they're not going to be worrying about how to explain something and whether or not their kid got to the doctor on time."

Stay up-to-date with federal news alerts and analysis — Sign up for GovExec's email newsletters.
Close [ x ] More from GovExec

Thank you for subscribing to newsletters from GovExec.com.
We think these reports might interest you:

  • Going Agile:Revolutionizing Federal Digital Services Delivery

    Here’s one indication that times have changed: Harriet Tubman is going to be the next face of the twenty dollar bill. Another sign of change? The way in which the federal government arrived at that decision.

  • Cyber Risk Report: Cybercrime Trends from 2016

    In our first half 2016 cyber trends report, SurfWatch Labs threat intelligence analysts noted one key theme – the interconnected nature of cybercrime – and the second half of the year saw organizations continuing to struggle with that reality. The number of potential cyber threats, the pool of already compromised information, and the ease of finding increasingly sophisticated cybercriminal tools continued to snowball throughout the year.

  • Featured Content from RSA Conference: Dissed by NIST

    Learn more about the latest draft of the U.S. National Institute of Standards and Technology guidance document on authentication and lifecycle management.

  • GBC Issue Brief: The Future of 9-1-1

    A Look Into the Next Generation of Emergency Services

  • GBC Survey Report: Securing the Perimeters

    A candid survey on cybersecurity in state and local governments

  • The New IP: Moving Government Agencies Toward the Network of The Future

    Federal IT managers are looking to modernize legacy network infrastructures that are taxed by growing demands from mobile devices, video, vast amounts of data, and more. This issue brief discusses the federal government network landscape, as well as market, financial force drivers for network modernization.

  • eBook: State & Local Cybersecurity

    CenturyLink is committed to helping state and local governments meet their cybersecurity challenges. Towards that end, CenturyLink commissioned a study from the Government Business Council that looked at the perceptions, attitudes and experiences of state and local leaders around the cybersecurity issue. The results were surprising in a number of ways. Learn more about their findings and the ways in which state and local governments can combat cybersecurity threats with this eBook.


When you download a report, your information may be shared with the underwriters of that document.