The U.S. Department of Labor’s Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs has released new guidance on parental leave requirements for federal contractors.

Many federal contractors offer parental leave as a benefit to their employees.

Parental leave policies may include leave for an employee to take care of a newborn child, recently adopted child, foster child, or others needing parental care. 

Parental leave is distinct from pregnancy-related medical leave and is generally available regardless of medical need.  

The guidance explains OFCCP’s sex discrimination regulations which specifically prohibit discrimination on the basis of sex with regard to fringe benefits, including parental leave benefits. 

OFCCP enforces laws and regulations that make it illegal for companies doing business with the federal government to discriminate in the provision of fringe benefits, including parental leave, on sex or other protected basis including race, color, sexual orientation, gender identity, religion, national origin, disability, or status as a protected veteran. 

When OFCCP examines parental leave policies it examines whether the written policy is discriminatory on its face as well as whether it is discriminatory in its application.

In addition to removing an employee’s sex or any other protected basis as a consideration in granting or denying parental leave in written policies, employers need to be sure that discrimination does not occur in the application and implementation of a parental leave policy, such as where requests are generally approved for women but not for men.

It is suggested that contractors carefully train all employees and managers on the application of the contractor’s parental leave policy because even a parental leave policy that appears to be neutral on its face may have a disparate impact as implemented or applied. 

 For more information, contact CBIA's Brian Corvo (860.244.1169).