Expanded Sick and Bereavement Leave for Federal Workers’ Domestic Partners
June 15, 2010
Yesterday, the Office of Personnel Management issued a final regulation expanding sick and bereavement leave programs to include the domestic partners of federal employees. This change was first proposed last September, as part of OPM’s implementation of a June 2009 memorandum issued by President Obama directing federal agencies to identify benefits they could extend to the same-sex partners of their employees under existing law. Two weeks ago, OPM also finalized regulations opening up the federal employees’ long-term care insurance program to domestic partners. That change, as well as the expansion of sick and bereavement leave, were recommendations in HRC’s Blueprint for Positive Change. Under the new policy, federal employees will be able to use sick or bereavement leave in conjunction with the illness or death of a partner, as well as that partner’s children or parents. The expanded policy goes into effect on July 14. Today’s policy changes are a small but significant advance for LGBT federal employees, and have been praised by the National Treasury Employees’ Union (NTEU), a major federal employees’ union, as “important steps in helping ensure fairness in the federal workplace.” Of course, the same-sex partners of LGBT federal workers are still denied many important benefits, such as health insurance and retirement, that cannot be extended without action by Congress. HRC continues to push for the passage of the Domestic Partnership Benefits and Obligations Act, which would ensure LGBT federal workers and their families have access to those critical benefits.