Paid Parental Leave

With the implementation of the National Defense Authorization Act of 2020, effective 1 October, Exchange associates that meet the criteria outlined in the Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA) may receive up to 12 weeks of paid parental leave for the birth, adoption or placement of a child.

Eligibility Requirements

  • Have completed at least 12 months of employment with the Exchange
  • Have worked at least 1,250 hours during the 12 month period immediately preceding the date the paid parental leave is scheduled to begin 
  • Be a Regular Full-Time, Regular Part-Time, or Intermittent associate
  • Have an appointment of more than 1 year in duration

Associates that invoke Paid Parental Leave must agree and sign a 12 week service agreement with the Exchange that begins at the conclusion of the paid parental leave use period. 


FAQs:


1. What is Paid Parental Leave (PPL)?

Grants up to 12 weeks of paid leave to eligible associates in connection with the birth, adoption, or foster care placement of a child that occurs on or after 1 October 2020. Associate must meet the eligibility requirements defined under the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA). This policy will run concurrently with Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) leave. 

2. If an associate gives birth before 1 October 2020, may they use PPL? 

No, PPL may only be granted in connection with birth or placement events on or after 1 October 2020.


3. Who may be granted PPL? 

Associates who meet eligibility requirements to invoke FMLA based on 5 CFR 630.1203(a)(1) or (2) may substitute their FMLA unpaid leave with PPL, in accordance with the title 5 rules and regulations. This applies to the mother and father. 


4. When can PPL be granted? 

PPL can be granted to associates following FMLA invocation based on a qualifying birth, adoption, or placement event. It may only be granted for time when an associate has a parental role. A parent who does not maintain a continuing parental role with respect to a newly born or placed child would not be eligible for paid parental leave once the parental role has ended. Placement for adoption of foster care must be a new placement. 


5. Can I use PPL before the birth or placement of my child occurs? 

No, PPL can only be substituted after the birth or placement event. An associate may use FMLA unpaid leave prior to the birth, if qualified under FMLA. However, use of FMLA unpaid leave in these cases will affect how much PPL an associate can receive after the birth event. An associate may request to use annual leave or sick leave through their supervisor without invoking FMLA. 


6. Can PPL be used for recovery following childbirth? 

PPL may be used during periods of recovery from childbirth as long as the associate maintains a continuing parental role with respect to a newly born child. The interim regulations state that PPL continues to be available only as long as the associate has a continuing parental role with respect to the newly born or placed child. Therefore, PPL may not be used exclusively for the purposes of recovery from childbirth. For example, in cases where an associate serves as a surrogate, the associate would not be eligible for PPL. 


7. Are associates required to use all available sick and annual leave before using PPL? 

No, associates are not required to use their sick or annual leave, prior to using PPL.


8. Are associates required to use PPL immediately following the birth or placement event? 

No, associates may invoke their FMLA leave, with the substitution of PPL, at any time during the 12- month period following the birth/placement event, in accordance with applicable rules and regulations. For example, an associate may use their sick leave for their recovery from childbirth prior to invoking FMLA and substituting PPL. 


9. Can associates use PPL intermittently? 

The regulations allow for the use of PPL intermittently when both the supervisor and the associate agree to intermittent use. 


10. Are the total number of weeks for PPL reduced for RPT and INT associates? 

Example: Are the 12 weeks reduced to 6 weeks or less for RPT and INT associates. No, if a RPT or INT associate is eligible for FMLA and would like to use PPL they may use up to 12 weeks of PPL. The amount of PPL hours that can used is equal to what the associate would normal be scheduled. 


11. What if an associate has multiple birth and/or placement events? If an associate has multiple children born or placed on the same day, the multiple-child birth/placement event is considered to be a single event that initiates a single entitlement of up to 12 weeks of paid parental leave. If an associate has one or more children born or placed during the 12-month period following the date of an earlier birth or placement of a child of the associate, each event will generate a 12-week leave entitlement to be used during the 12-month period following birth/placement; however, any use of paid parental leave during an overlap period (i.e., period contained within more than one 12- month period following birth/placement) will count toward the 12-week limit for each birth/placement involved. In other words, usage of paid parental leave may count toward multiple 12-week limits to the extent that there are simultaneously in effect multiple ongoing 12-month periods beginning on the date of an applicable birth/placement. 


12. Can a request for PPL be denied? 

No, PPL is an entitlement. As long as all of the requirements contained in 5 CFR, part 630, are met, an associate’s invocation of FMLA and substitution of PPL cannot be denied. 


13. What are associates required to provide before using PPL? 

Associates must sign a written work obligation agreement (Exchange Form 1400-002) stating that they will work for the Exchange for not less than 12 weeks, prior to the use of PPL. An email, text or verbal agreement is not acceptable in place of the associate’s signature; the work obligation agreement MUST be signed by the associate. Additionally, associates should submit a written request (Exchange Form 1400-002) detailing their anticipated use of PPL. 

Associates must also provide legal documentation regarding the date of birth and/or placement events prior to the processing of the authorized PPL. 


14. Are associates automatically authorized 12-weeks of paid leave under the Federal Paid Leave Act? 

No, any FMLA leave for purposes other than the birth or placement of the child during a 12-month period may reduce the FMLA leave available. In this case, it would also reduce the amount of available PPL, since the substitution of PPL requires the use of FMLA leave. 


15. When does PPL conclude? 

The date PPL concludes is either:

  • The workday on which the associate finishes using 12 administrative workweeks of PPL during the PPL eligibility period (the 12 months after the birth or placement). 
  • Or, if the associate does not use the entire 12 administrative workweeks of PPL during the PPL eligibility period, the day that is the last workday on which the associate used PPL.


16. What time counts toward the service obligation? 

Only time that an associate is in duty status counts toward completion of the 12-week work obligation. That means that the following periods do not count toward completion of the work obligation: 

  • Paid or unpaid leave
  • Time off (including holiday time off)
  • Other non-duty status, such as furlough or absence without leave
  • Any periods of work between intermittent uses of PPL (because work time does not count toward the work obligation until the use of PPL has concluded)


The PPL regulation does not prevent associates from using paid or unpaid leave during the period the associate is completing the service obligation, if it is requested and approved. That leave just will not count toward completion of the 12-week service obligation. This means that the associate may use annual leave after PPL concludes, but that use of leave will push the service obligation completion date out by the same amount of annual leave used.



17. What if the associate fails to complete the service obligation? 

If the associate fails to return for the required 12 weeks of work after PPL concludes, the Exchange may recover from the associate the total amount of the Exchange contributions paid on the associate's behalf to maintain health insurance coverage during the period(s) when PPL was used. An associate who separates from the agency before completing the required 12 weeks of work is considered to have failed to complete the service obligation. 


18. What if the associate is not enrolled in the Exchange’s Group Health Insurance? 

There is no authority to seek reimbursement if the associate is not enrolled in the Group Health Insurance. For example, if the associate is instead covered by their spouse's health insurance program, there would be nothing to recover from the associate if the service obligation is not completed.


Examples:


Eligibility

Example 1. An associate gives birth to a baby on 3 October 2020 and is a full-time associate with two years of service. They are eligible for FMLA leave. They are immediately eligible for PPL and may substitute FMLA unpaid leave for PPL. 

Example 2. An associate gives birth to a baby on 28 September 2020 and is a full-time associate with two years of service. They are eligible for FMLA leave. However, they are not eligible for PPL because the qualifying event (the birth) occurred prior to 1 October 2020. None of their FMLA unpaid leave based on the birth may be substituted with PPL 

Example 3. An associate gives birth to a baby on 3 October 2020 and is a full-time associate with 11 months of service. On 3 November 2020, the associate completes 12 months of federal service and becomes eligible for FMLA leave. When FMLA leave eligibility is established on 3 November 2020, the associate becomes eligible for PPL and may substitute PPL for unpaid leave used on or after 3 November 2020. 

Leave Entitlement 

Example 1. An associate has not previously invoked FMLA. On 12 October 2020, their qualifying birth event occurs. They invoke FMLA unpaid leave on 12 October 2020 and substitute PPL on the same date. In this example, the FMLA period is from 12 October 2020 – 11 October 2021. The one-year period based on the birth/placement event is also from 12 October 2020 – 11 October 2021. The associate would be entitled to substitute 12 weeks of PPL during this period. 

Example 2. An associate has not previously invoked FMLA. On 12 October 2020, their qualifying birth event occurs. The associate takes six weeks of sick leave for their recovery from childbirth. They do not invoke FMLA during this time since it is not necessary to do so. The associate invokes FMLA leave on 23 November 2020 and substitutes PPL, starting on the same date. In this example, the FMLA period is from 23 November 2020 - 11 October 2021. Even though the associate did not invoke FMLA on the day of the birth event, the FMLA period must end 12 months after the birth event. The associate would be entitled to substitute 12 weeks of PPL between 23 November 2020 – 11 October 2021. 


Example 3. An associate invoked FMLA to care for a sick family member on 20 April 2020 and used 2 weeks of FMLA leave. On 12 October 2020, their qualifying birth event occurs. On 12 October 2020, they invoke FMLA unpaid leave based on the birth of their child and substitute 10 weeks of PPL. In this example, FMLA leave and the substitution of PPL is limited to 10 weeks, since the associate already used 2 weeks of FMLA leave, and they may not exceed a total of 12 weeks of FMLA leave during the FMLA period. The FMLA period is from 20 April 2020 – 19 April 2021. The one-year period based on the birth/placement event is from 12 October 2020 – 11 October 2021. On 20 April 2021, a new FMLA period begins and the associate may invoke FMLA and substitute 2 weeks of PPL for FMLA leave at this point, since they have 2 additional weeks of PPL still available. The remaining PPL must be used from 20 April 2021 – 11 October 2021. 

Example 4. An associate has not previously invoked FMLA. On 12 October 2020, their qualifying birth event occurs. The associate immediately invokes FMLA unpaid leave on 12 October 2020, and substitutes PPL on the same date. The associate substitutes 12 weeks of PPL for FMLA leave. The associate’s FMLA period and the one-year period based on the birth/placement event is from 12 October 2020 – 11 October 2021. On 23 August 2021, the associate adopts a child. Since the date of the placement is within the one-year period based on the previous birth, and the associate has already utilized 12 weeks of PPL, the associate would not have any PPL or FMLA leave available for use. On 12 October 2021, the associate may invoke FMLA based on the placement event and the new FMLA period begins. The associate may then substitute 12 weeks of PPL for 12 weeks of FMLA leave. The PPL must be used during the new FMLA period from 12 October 2021 – 22 August 2022. 


Example 5. An associate adopts an infant from China. She travels to China in mid-November 2020 for the pre-adoption process. The adoption paperwork is completed on 1 Dec 2020. The associate is eligible for FMLA and PPL beginning on 1 Dec 2020. FMLA/PPL does not cover pre-adoption activities. 

Example 6. An associate began fostering a child on 1 Feb 2020. She later decides to adopt the child she has been fostering and the adoption takes place on 1 Nov 2020. The associate is not eligible for PPL because the adoption on 1 Nov 2020 is not a new placement. 

Service Obligation 

Example 1. An associate with a Monday - Friday tour of duty starts substituting PPL on the day of her child's birth, Nov. 2, 2020. She uses the 12 weeks all at once and returns to work on Jan. 26, 2021. The associate’s PPL use will have concluded on Jan. 22, 2021. The associate will start completing her work obligation on Jan. 26, 2021, when she returns to duty. 

Example 2. However, if the associate continues her absence by, say, using annual leave or leave without pay approved by the agency, she will not begin completing her work obligation until she actually returns to duty status. 

Example 3. The associate uses one week of FMLA leave for bed rest just prior to the birth and then only has 11 weeks of FMLA leave available. She uses the 11 weeks immediately after the birth, substituting PPL for that time. One week before the end of the PPL-eligibility period, the associate will have one more week of FMLA available. She uses that time, substituting her remaining week of PPL. She would not start completing her work obligation until after she uses that final week of PPL. The fact that she has worked more than 12 weeks prior to using that final week of PPL is not relevant. She cannot complete -- or even begin to complete -- her work obligation before she finishes using PPL.



Types of Supporting Documentation for the Use of Paid Parental Leave 

(The documents mentioned below are examples. Documentation must be a legal document that provides the date of birth or placement.) 

As described in the Paid Parental Leave regulations (5 CFR 630.1703(h)), at the request of the Exchange, an associate must provide the appropriate documentation that shows that the associate’s use of paid parental leave is directly connected to a birth or placement that has occurred. 

This is not an exhaustive list however provides examples that can be used for determining what documentation is sufficient proof of entitlement. 


Childbirth

  • Birth certificate
  • Document naming employee as second parent, such as declaration of paternity or court order of filiation
  • Appropriate court documents
  • Consular report of birth abroad
  • Documentation provided by the child’s healthcare provider
  • Other documentation approved by the Exchange


Adoption

  • Documentation provided by the adoption agency confirming the placement and date of placement
  • Letter signed by the parent’s/parents’ attorney confirming the placement and date of placement
  • Adoption placement agreement
  • Other documentation approved by the Exchange


Foster Care

  • Foster care placement record
  • Other documentation from the foster agency confirming the placement and date of placement
  • Foster care placement letter issued by the relevant local department of social services or authorized voluntary foster care agency
  • Other documentation approved by the Exchange