Click here to skip navigation Home  |  Subject Index  |  Important Links  |  Contact Us  |  Help

U.S. Office of Personnel Management - Ensuring the Federal Government has an effective civilian workforce

Advanced Search

Final Regulations on Family and Medical Leave

This page contains PDF files.  Go to get help with Acrobat.

The Office of Personnel Management (OPM) has issued final regulations implementing Title II of the Family and Medical Leave Act of 1993 (FMLA). OPM's final regulations were published in the Federal Register on December 5, 1996, and were effective on January 6, 1997.

For further information, please contact OPM's Compensation Administration Division on (202) 606-2858 or FAX: (202) 606-0824 or send an email note to

Summary of Major Revisions in Office of Personnel Management's (OPM) Final Regulations on the Family and Medical Leave Act of 1993 (FMLA)

(Final Regulations Issued 12/05/96)

Health care provider. The definition of "health care provider" has been revised to include providers who are recognized by the Federal Employees Health Benefits Program, certified under Federal or State law, recognized as a Native American "traditional healing practitioner," or who practice in a foreign country.

Serious health condition. The definition of "serious health condition" has been revised significantly, consistent with the Department of Labor's (DOL's) regulations, and includes chronic conditions, such as asthma, diabetes, and conditions requiring multiple treatments, such as chemotherapy or kidney dialysis.

Spouse. The definition of "spouse" has been revised to comply with the definition of "spouse" in the Defense of Marriage Act (Public Law 104-199, September 21, 1996). "Spouse" means an individual who is a husband or wife pursuant to a marriage that is a legal union between one man and one woman, including common law marriage between one man and one woman in States where it is recognized.

Notification of Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) Entitlements. In response to concerns that employees are not fully informed of the provisions of the FMLA, the regulations have been clarified to require agencies to inform employees of their entitlements and responsibilities under the FMLA.

Leave entitlement. Office of Personnel Management regulations clarify that an employee must invoke his or her entitlement to Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) leave, subject to the notification and medical certification requirements. An employee may not invoke entitlement to FMLA leave retroactively for any previous absence from work.

Substitution of paid leave. The regulations no longer permit compensatory time off and credit hours earned under a flexible work schedule to be substituted for leave without pay under the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA). However, an employee may continue to choose to substitute annual or sick leave, or advance annual or sick leave, consistent with current law and regulations for granting and using annual and sick leave. An employee may use earned compensatory time off and credit hours in addition to the period of FMLA leave.

Protection of employment and benefits. The regulations have been revised to permit agencies to establish a uniformly applied practice or policy that requires all similarly-situated employees (i.e., same occupation, same serious health condition) who take Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) leave for a serious health condition to provide medical certification to return to work. The information on the medical certification to return to work must relate only to the serious health condition for which FMLA leave was taken.

Other minor clarifications were made in the regulations to assist agencies in administering the Family and Medical Leave Act.

This information was published in a memorandum for Directors of Personnel, CPM 96-16, December 6, 1996.

To Compensation Administration Main Page