Family and Medical Leave Act of 1987

T-CRO-87-1: Published: Apr 2, 1987. Publicly Released: Apr 2, 1987.

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GAO discussed its parental leave policy and found that before 1982: (1) departmental heads had complete discretion to approve or disapprove requests for leave-without-pay; (2) the majority of expectant mothers used a combination of accrued or advanced annual or sick leave for maternal absences; (3) management sometimes based leave approval on how long it could spare an employee or whether the employee was a superior performer; and (4) in other cases, management set 90 days as its maximum unpaid maternity leave and routinely approved that amount regardless of other considerations. GAO revised its policy to give more recognition to the needs of new parents, by providing that: (1) employees may request and automatically receive up to 26 weeks of unpaid leave, in addition to any accrued annual leave, for infant care; (2) male employees may also request up to 26 weeks of unpaid leave, although leave cannot begin until after delivery; (3) adoptive parents are entitled to the same leave provisions as natural parents; and (4) employees are entitled to continued employment in the same or a comparable position upon return from parental leave. GAO concluded that, while there would be additional costs associated with unpaid leave, the parental leave policy would help attract and retain good employees who might otherwise resign.

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