HR: Employee Handbook
Paid Parental Leave

Paid Parental Leave

The Federal Employee Paid Leave Act (FEPLA) became effective October 1, 2020. FEPLA provides federal employees with the opportunity to take up to 12 workweeks of paid leave within any 12 month period in connection with the birth or placement for adoption or foster care of a child. All SI employees (federal and trust), in full or part-time positions are eligible for PPL, but must meet the eligibility criteria below.

Any use of paid parental leave will run concurrently with the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA). The purpose of paid parental leave (PPL) is to enable employees to care for and bond with a newborn, newly adopted or newly placed child in foster care.

Eligibility Criteria

  • Employee must have completed at least 12 months of prior federal or trust service (the 12 months need not be consecutive), and
  • Employee must be a full- or part-time employee of the Smithsonian. Intermittent and temporary employees (those who service under an appointment with a time limitation of one year or less) and interns are not eligible for this benefit.

In addition, Smithsonian employees must meet one of the following criteria:

  • Have given birth to a child;
  • Be the spouse or committed partner of someone who has given birth to a child; or
  • Have adopted a child or have been placed with a foster child (in both cases, the child must be 17 years of age or younger).
Note: adopting a spouse's child is excluded from this policy.

Smithsonian Policy

Eligible Smithsonian employees will receive a maximum of 12 administrative workweeks of PPL for the birth, adoption, or placement of a child/children. Experiencing a multiple birth, adoption, or placement in one instance (e.g., twins, or adoption/placement of siblings) does not increase the 12-week amount of PPL granted for that event. In addition, in no case will a parent-employee receive more than 12 weeks of PPL in a rolling 12-month period, regardless of whether more than one birth, adoption or foster placement event occurs within that 12-month timeframe. SI employees who are spouses and parents of the same child are each entitled to a separate 12-workweek entitlement.

Note: For regular full-time parent-employees with 80 hours in a scheduled tour of duty over a biweekly pay period, the hours equivalent of 12 administrative workweeks total 480 hours. For part-time employees, the 12 administrative workweeks are calculated based upon the number of hours in the employee's scheduled tour of duty.

Each week of PPL is compensated at 100% of the parent-employee's regular, base weekly pay. PPL will be paid on a biweekly basis on regularly scheduled pay dates. PPL is not applied to days designated as holidays and other non-workdays when the SI parent-employee would otherwise be excused from duty. Approved PPL must be used no later than the end of the 12-month period beginning on the child's date of birth, adoption, or placement with the parent-employee. Any unused balance of PPL permanently expires and is not available for future use.

Employees may take PPL intermittently; however, all PPL must be taken during the 12-month timeframe indicated above. Any unused PPL will be forfeited at the end of the 12-month time frame.

At the request of the supervisor, the employee may be required to provide documentation to show that their use of PPL is directly connected with a birth or placement that occurred.

Invoking Paid Parental Leave

Where foreseeable, an employee must provide written notice (a completed, signed PPL Request Form) as soon as practicable, but no less than 30 calendar days, regardless of how far in advance the leave is requested. In cases where leave is unforeseeable, SI employees shall provide notice within a reasonable amount of time.

Smithsonian employees are responsible for invoking their entitlement to PPL each time the employee wishes to use by submitting their PPL leave in WebTA (using code 62, as appropriate for the situation) each time the employee wishes to use the applicable leave type. PPL is a substitution for unpaid FMLA leave granted in connection with the birth of an employee's son or daughter or placement of a son or daughter with the employee for adoption or foster care. In all cases, supervisors should advise the employee of leave options as applicable to the circumstances.

Note: FMLA may be used for a separate medical emergency. However, the amount of FMLA leave available will be reduced by the amount of PPL time taken for birth or placement purposes. For example, if an employee invokes FMLA for the care of a covered family member for 6 weeks, then the same employee gives birth to a child, the employee would be able to use only 6 weeks of PPL during the 12-month period commencing on the date of birth or placement.

Return to Work Obligation

By electing to use PPL benefits, employees must agree in writing (Work Obligation Agreement) that they will continue to work for the Smithsonian for at least 12 weeks after their last day of PPL leave. The 12-week work requirement is fixed, regardless of whether the employee has used the full allowable for PPL. Failure to complete the 12-week work obligation may result in an employee being required to make a repayment to SI. The repayment is equal to the total and full amount of SI's contribution paid to maintain the employee's health insurance coverage under their respective health plan during the period that paid parental leave was used.

If an employee suffers a serious health condition from the birth of placement of a new child that was the basis for PPL, the Smithsonian may waive the 12-week work requirement. Prior to making a determination on a requested waiver, SI may require supporting documentation by a healthcare provider. If an employee is terminated or separates from the Smithsonian at any point while using PPL, he/she will not be paid for any unused paid parental leave for which they were eligible.

Please direct any questions not covered above to

Leave Without Pay (LWOP)/Family and Medical Leave (FMLA)

Employees may use LWOP, not under FMLA and as approved by supervisor, for absence from work due to pregnancy and childbirth, and to care for or bond with a healthy newborn.

Each parent is entitled to use a total of up to 12 weeks of Leave Without Pay (LWOP) under the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) for the birth of a child and care of the newborn. Medical certification requirements of FMLA must be met. An employee's entitlement to FMLA leave expires 12 months following the date of the child's birth. Subject to the supervisor's approval, FMLA leave may be used on an intermittent basis for absences related to cihldbirth and care of the newborn. An employee may elect to substitute Annual and/or Sick Leave for any or all of the LWOP used under the FMLA, consistent with the laws and regulations for using Annual and Sick Leave.

Medical certification of the mother's incapacity must be provided by the mother's attending physician on the applicable Department of Labor certification form and should be provided to the SAO Benefits Office no later than 15 days of the child's birth date.

Time charges in WebTA should reflect the appropriate use of Leave Without Pay, Sick Leave with FMLA or Annual Leave with FMLA. Questions relating to FMLA usage should be directed to the SAO Benefits Office, (617) 495-7371 or (617) 496-7605.

For further details about the Family and Medical Leave Act and its job and benefits protections, refer to the FMLA section of the Employee Handbook.


Section Photo