To mark this week of the 31st anniversary of the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA), the Biden-Harris Administration is renewing our call for access to paid family and medical leave for all workers and continuing to make the federal government a model employer by ensuring access to leave for federal employees.
Today, millions of workers still face impossible choices between work and family or medical needs. This is especially true for women, who often shoulder disproportionate caregiving responsibilities. Comprehensive leave policies benefit employees and employers; support women, caregivers, and whole families; and strengthen our overall economy.
President Biden and Vice President Harris will continue to champion a national paid family and medical leave program and will also continue efforts to improve access to leave. Since taking office, the Administration has expanded the military parental leave program to ensure military personnel have access to 12 weeks of paid parental leave, issued new resources to help employees know their rights under the Family Medical and Leave Act, analyzed the benefits of paid leave programs, and supported efforts to pass paid leave legislation in states.
One year ago, President Biden issued a Presidential Memorandum on Supporting Access to Leave for Federal Employees, which encouraged the heads of federal agencies to provide access to leave for federal employees when they need it, including during their first year of service. The Memorandum made clear that unpaid leave can serve as a critical stopgap, allowing individuals to maintain their employment while attending to family or medical needs—from bonding with a new child to caring for a family member with a serious health condition to managing family affairs when a family member is called to active duty.
In response to the Presidential Memorandum, federal agencies have taken action to support federal employees’ access to leave by:
- Issuing new agency-wide guidance, policies, and practices on granting leave without pay, including for safe leave, or seeking safety and recovering from domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault, or stalking;
- Revising new employee and new supervisor training programs as well as other onboarding programs to include the expansion of leave without pay to newly hired employees within the first year of their appointments;
- Developing new resources to help employees understand their expanded range of leave options, including use of voluntary leave transfer programs and advanced leave, as well as leave without pay; and
- Convening leave policy working groups to address leave administration issues, identify potential solutions, and encourage access to leave without pay when an employee does not have eligibility for a paid leave category.
This Administration remains committed to championing access to family and medical leave so all Americans can care for and financially support their families.