Yesterday, the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) issued a memorandum instructing federal agencies to allow their employees to take leave without pay to attend to educational and medical needs of a same-sex partner’s child or elderly relative. Under a 1997 order by President Clinton, federal employees have been permitted to take up to 24 hours of unpaid leave for family support purposes, such as attending parent-teacher conferences or accompany a child or elderly relative to a routine checkup – purposes for which employees would otherwise have to use vacation time. Yesterday’s announcement makes such leave equally available to federal employees with same-sex domestic partners.
President Obama included this benefit in his June 2010 memorandum identifying additional benefits that could be extended to the same-sex partners of federal employees without additional action by Congress. However, extending key benefits – such as health insurance and retirement plans – does require legislation, and HRC continues to push Congress to pass the Domestic Partnership Benefits and Obligations Act, a bill that would ensure that LGBT federal workers and their families have access to those critical protections.
More information for federal workers on how to utilize family support leave is available here.