Family Medical Leave Act

The Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) entitles most Federal employees up to twelve (12) workweeks of unpaid leave, Leave Without Pay (LWOP), during a twelve (12) month period for:

  • the birth of a son or daughter of the employee and the care of such son or daughter;
  • the placement of a son or daughter with the employee for adoption or foster care;
  • the care of spouse, son, daughter, or parent of the employee who has a serious health condition; or
  • a serious health condition of the employee that makes the employee unable to perform the essential functions of his or her positions.
  • any qualifying exigency arising out of the fact that the spouse, or a son, daughter, or parent of the employee is on covered active duty (or has been notified of an impending call or order to covered active duty) in the Armed Forces.

An employee may also request to use paid leave (annual or sick leave) as appropriate, for any portion of Leave Without Pay (LWOP).

A serious health condition includes, but is not limited to, the following conditions:

  • cancer;
  • heart attack;
  • stroke;
  • severe injuries;
  • Alzheimer's disease;
  • pregnancy;

The term serious health condition is not intended to cover short-term conditions involving a brief recovery, the common cold, an upset stomach, earaches, or routine dental issues, unless complications arise.

On October 1, 2020, Paid Parental Leave (PPL) became available to federal employees in connection with a qualifying birth or placement (for adoption or foster care).  As a result, the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) provisions were amended in Title 5, United States Code (U.S.C) to provide up to 12 weeks of paid parental leave to eligible Federal employees in connection with the birth or placement of a child occurring on or after October 1, 2020. 

The Paid parental leave (PPL) provision of the Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA) entitles eligible employees to substitute up to 12 weeks of PPL for their unpaid FMLA entitlement. An employee must first invoke FMLA for the birth or placement of a child with the employee for adoption or foster care. PPL may be used only in connection with the birth or placement, which results in the employee assuming a parental role with respect to the newly-born or newly-placed child (5 U.S.C. § 6382(d)(2)(B)).

Prior to the use of the PPL, employees should request, in writing, their intention to use PPL. The request will include:

  • the employee identifying information;
  • the plan to substitute PPL for FMLA;
  • the anticipated dates of use;
  • the intent to use PPL continuously or intermittently; and
  • the planned return-to-duty date.

Prior to substituting PPL, the employee must sign a 12-week work obligation, agreeing to work for the Department of Defense (DoD) for not less than 12 weeks, beginning immediately after the PPL concludes.

Paid Parental Leave Frequently Asked Questions


Job Benefits and Protection:

When returning from an absence under the FMLA, an employee must be returned to the same position or to an equivalent position with equivalent benefits, pay, status, and other terms and conditions of employment.

Additionally, an employee who takes FMLA leave is entitled to keep health benefits coverage. An employee on unpaid FMLA leave can arrange to pay the employee share of the premiums of health insurance with payroll on a regular basis or upon return to work.

Advance Notice and Medical Certification: An employee must provide notice of his or her intent to take family and medical leave not less than 30 days before leave is to begin or, in emergencies, as soon as is possible.

How do you apply?

To apply for an absence under the FMLA, complete an OPM-71, Request for Leave or Approved Absence, and attach medical documentation to support the absence. Medical documentation must include the diagnosis, prognosis, duration or expected duration if exact dates are unknown, of absence, and expected date of return to duty. Submit the OPM-71 to the immediate supervisor for approval. The Employee Relations Section will review absences of LWOP of thirty (30) calendar days or more.

Questions: For more information about the Family and Medical Leave Act, please contact the DoDEA, Human Resources Regional Service Center, Employee Relations Section at (703) 696-1681/82/83.

References: DoDEA Regulation 5630.9, 5 USC Part 630