HR: Employee Handbook: Sick Leave for Family Care or Bereavement
 

Sick Leave for Family Care or Bereavement

Entitlement

A covered full-time employee may use a total of up to 104 hours (13 workdays) of sick leave each year to:

  • Provide care for a family member as a result of medical, dental or optical examination or treatment,
  • Provide care for a family member who is incapacitated as a result of physical or mental illness, injury, pregnancy or childbirth, or
  • Make arrangements necessitated by the death of a family member or to attend the funeral of a family member.

Part-time employees and employees with uncommon tours of duty are also covered, and the amount of sick leave permitted for family care and bereavement purposes is prorated in proportion to the average number of hours of work in the employee's scheduled tour of duty each week.

Definition of Family Member

"Family member" for general family care and bereavement purposes, 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.

Administration

At the discretion of the agency, an employee may be advanced up to 104 hours of sick leave each leave year (or a proportional amount for an employee on a part-time schedule or uncommon tour of duty) for family care or bereavement purposes.

An agency may grant sick leave only when supported by evidence administratively acceptable by the agency. For absences in excess of 3 days or for a lesser period when determined necessary by the agency, an agency may require a medical certificate or other administratively acceptable evidence.

Reference

5 CFR 630.401

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

Entitlement

Most Federal and Trust Fund 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 has previously used a portion of the 13 days (104) hours of sick leave for general family care or bereavement 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 in the leave year, he/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 leave year for all family care purposes.

Definition of Family Member

"Family member" is defined as:

  • Spouse, and his/her parents
  • children, including adopted children, and their spouses
  • Parents
  • Brothers and sisters, and their spouses, 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 the 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.

Documentation of Leave

Supervisors may require supporting evidence before approving family leave for general family care or leave for bereavement purposes. In addition, each time sick leave is used for family care purposes, the employee must enter the applicable leave type and transaction code on their WebTA timecard. The employee should state the purpose for which the leave is used (i.e., to care for a family member or for bereavement purposes.

When using sick leave to care for a family member with a serious health condition, SAO employees are required to submit to Human Resources a completed standard U.S. Department of Labor, Certification of Health Care Provider for Family Member's Serious Health Condition within 15 calendar days of their first absence from work. In addition, the employee must also provide Human Resources with a copy of the WebTA certified summary for the relevant pay periods.

Advance Notice

Employees are responsible for giving as much advance notice as possible when requesting any type of leave, including general family care, bereavement leave, and to care for a family member with a serious health condition.

Administration

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.

References

5 CFR 630.401 and 630.1202

Sick Leave for Adoption

Entitlement

An employee may use sick leave for purposes related to the adoption of a child. The agency may advance up to 30 days of sick leave for adoption-related purposes.

Examples may include, but are not limited to:

  • Appointments with adoption agencies, social workers, and attorneys
  • Court proceedings
  • Required travel
  • Any periods of time the adoptive parents are ordered or required by the adoption agency or by the court to take time off from work to care for the adopted child, and
  • Any other activity necessary to allow the adoption to proceed.

Adoptive parents who voluntarily choose to be absent from work to bond with or care for an adopted child may not use sick leave for this purpose. Parents may use annual leave or leave without pay for these purposes. An agency may request administratively acceptable evidence for absences related to adoption.

Employees must request sick leave for adoption purposes on their WebTA timecard.

Other Entitlements for Using Leave

  • Upon presenting satisfactory medical information, an employee is entitled to seven days each calendar year to serve as a bone marrow donor. This means that an employee's request for seven days of excused absence for these purposes may not be denied if the employee provides medical documentation to support the absence. The length of absence for such purposes will vary depending on the medical circumstances of each case. For medical procedures and recuperation lasting longer than seven days, supervisors are encouraged to grant additional time off, which may be in the form of further excused absence, sick and/or annual leave (including advance leave), as appropriate, or leave without pay.
  • Public Law 106-56, the Organ Donor Leave Act, permits Federal employees up to 30 days of paid time off for the donation of an organ. This 30 days of paid time off for organ donation will be recorded as administrative leave. Smithsonian policy permits extending this 30 days of paid leave to any Trust Fund employee who becomes an organ donor.

Additional Information

Any questions regarding these entitlements should be directed to Linda McDonald in the Human Resources Department at (617) 496-7605.

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