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Sick Leave for Adoption

Fact Sheet: Sick Leave for Adoption

Sick Leave Entitlement

An employee is entitled to use sick leave when he or she must be absent from work for purposes related to his or her adoption of a child. Examples of adoption-related purposes may include but are not limited to:

  • Appointments with adoption agencies, social workers, and attorneys;
  • Court proceedings;
  • Required travel;
  • Any periods of time the employee is ordered or required by the adoption agency or by the court to take time off from work to care for the adopted child; and
  • Any other activities necessary to allow the adoption to proceed.

Advanced Sick Leave

At the discretion of the agency, up to 240 hours (30 days) of sick leave may be advanced to an employee, when required by the exigencies of the situation, for purposes related to the adoption of a child. For further details, please see our fact sheet entitled Advanced Sick Leave.

Sick Leave Usage Limits per Leave Year

There is no limitation on the amount of sick leave that may be used for adoption-related purposes. Sick leave for adoption-related purposes does not count towards the 104-hour (13-day) limit of sick leave each leave year for family care and bereavement purposes or the overall limit of 12 weeks of sick leave each leave year for all family care purposes.

Requesting Sick Leave

An employee must request sick leave within such time limits as the agency may require. To the extent possible, an employee may be required to request advanced approval for sick leave for purposes related to the adoption of a child. If the employee complies with the agency's notification and medical evidence/certification requirements, the agency must grant sick leave.

Supporting Evidence for the Use of Sick Leave

An agency may request administratively acceptable evidence for sick leave used for adoption-related purposes. Employees should consult their agency-specific human resources guidance and review applicable policies set forth in collective bargaining agreements for information specific to their agency.

Bonding with Child

Sick leave may not be used by an employee who voluntarily chooses to be absent from work to bond with or care for a healthy adopted child. (An employee likewise may not use sick leave to voluntarily be absent from work to bond with or care for a healthy biological child.) There is no provision in law or regulation that permits the use of sick leave to care for a healthy child, bond with a healthy child, or for other child care responsibilities. Please see OPM's Handbook on Leave and Workplace Flexibilities for Childbirth, Adoption, and Foster Care for more information.

Other Available Leave Options and Work Schedule Flexibilities

Sick leave may be used only for those circumstances specified in law and regulation. The Federal Government offers a wide range of leave options and workplace flexibilities to assist an employee who needs to be away from the workplace. These flexibilities include annual leave, sick leave, advanced annual leave or advanced sick leave, leave under the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA), donated leave under the voluntary leave transfer program, leave without pay, alternative work schedules, credit hours under flexible work schedules, compensatory time off and telework. Agencies may also have a voluntary leave bank program.


  • 5 U.S.C. 6307(c) and (d)
  • 5 CFR 630, subpart D
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