Parental leave is a benefit that many federal contractors offer to their employees. A parental leave policy may include leave for an employee to take care of a newborn child, recently adopted child, foster child, or a child otherwise needing parental care. Parental leave is generally designed to be available regardless of medical need, and thus is distinct from pregnancy-related medical leave. These frequently asked questions (FAQs) address issues contractors should consider in developing and implementing a parental leave benefit. Please note that these FAQs do not address other forms of leave, such as pregnancy‐related medical leave.
- What does OFCCP require of federal contractors regarding parental leave?
- Can a contractor avoid discriminating on the basis of sex by eliminating "sex" from its written parental leave policy?
- How does OFCCP enforce contractor obligations not to discriminate concerning fringe benefits such as parental leave?
What does OFCCP require of federal contractors regarding parental leave?
The laws and regulations enforced by OFCCP make it illegal for a company doing business with the federal government to discriminate in the provision of parental leave on the basis of race, color, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, religion, national origin, disability, or status as a protected veteran. OFCCP’s sex discrimination regulations (41 CFR Part 60‐20) also specifically prohibit discrimination on the basis of sex with regard to fringe benefits, which includes parental leave (41 CFR 60‐20.6).
Can a contractor avoid discriminating on the basis of sex by eliminating "sex" from its written parental leave policy?
While parental leave policies should not include sex, or any other protected basis, as a consideration in granting or denying parental leave -- e.g., parental leave policies where only women are eligible, which is prohibited -- removing it from any written leave policy may not, on its own, prevent discrimination from occurring. Discrimination may also occur in the application of a parental leave policy, such as where parental leave requests are generally approved for women but not for men. For this reason, contractors should carefully train all employees and managers on application of the contractor’s parental leave policy.
How does OFCCP enforce contractor obligations not to discriminate concerning fringe benefits such as parental leave?
As a part of its compliance evaluation activities or in response to a complaint alleging discrimination, OFCCP will examine whether any parental leave policy is discriminatory, either on its face or in its application. OFCCP typically asks questions of employees and human resources officials regarding the provision of leave, and may request to view written policies. In assessing this information, OFCCP will evaluate whether a contractor has intentionally used a protected characteristic, such as sex, as a factor in its parental leave policies. OFCCP may also examine policies that appear to be neutral to determine whether they have a disparate impact as implemented or applied.
The contents of this document do not have the force and effect of law and are not meant to bind the public in any way. This document is intended only to provide clarity to the public regarding existing requirements under the law or agency policies.
Last updated on August 13, 2020