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Leave Administration

Annual Leave

Annual leave is time off for vacations, personal use, or as a substitute for leave without pay under the Family and Medical Leave Act. To be eligible to earn annual leave, you must have been hired for 90 days or more. The amount of annual leave you earn, referred to as your "leave category," depends on the length of your federal/military service as shown in the following chart. 

Years of Service Hours Earned Each
2-WeekPay Period*
Total Days Per Year

Up to 3

4 hours

13 days

3 to 15

6 hours**

20 days

15 and over

8 hours

26 days

*Part-time employees' earnings of annual leave are prorated in proportion to the number of hours worked.
**If you have 3 to 15 years of service you will earn an extra 4 hours of annual leave in the last pay period of the calendar year.

Carryovers: The total number of hours that may carry over from one leave year to the next is 240 hours for non-SES employees; SES employees may carry over up to 720 hours to the new leave year. Exceptions to these limitations may be approved under special circumstances provided for under leave restoration regulations contained in the DoC Handbook of Leave Administration.

Use: While you have a right to use the annual leave you earn, your absence on annual leave must be approved by your supervisor. Usually, you must get approval for leave in advance. In emergency situations, where you could not foresee the need to take leave, you must notify your supervisor as soon as possible. If you disregard these policies you may be placed on leave restriction. Repeated disregard of leave policies may result in a disciplinary action.

Lump Sum Payment: If you leave the federal service, you will be paid in a lump sum for any annual leave to your credit.

Sick Leave

Sick leave is time off when you are unable to do your job due to illness; for adoption of a child; for taking care of an immediate family member or as a substitute for leave without pay under the Family and Medical Leave Act.

Earnings: All full-time employees, regardless of their length of service, earn four hours of sick leave each two-week pay period. Eligible employees other than full-time earn sick leave at the proportional rate of one hour for each 20 hours in a pay status.

Use: Sick leave may be used only:

  • When you are unable to work because of sickness, injury, pregnancy, or confinement.
  • For medical, dental, or optical examination or treatment.
  • For medical, dental, or optical care of a family member
  • To make arrangements related to the death of a family member, to arrange for and/or to attend the funeral of a family member.
  • For adoption of a child (under the Family and Medical Leave Act).

There are a few simple rules on the use of sick leave:

  • If you are too sick to come to work, let your supervisor know before or as soon as possible after the time you are scheduled to report for duty.
  • Obtain a statement from the doctor who treats any problem that keeps you off the job for more than three days (including care of a family member).
  • Obtain a legal statement from an adoption agency or other legal authority when requesting sick leave for adoption purposes.

There is no limit on the amount of sick leave you can accumulate for use in succeeding years. It is to your advantage to preserve your sick leave in case you need it for a serious injury or a long illness. If you leave the government, there is no payment for unused sick leave, but such leave is recredited if you are reemployed with the federal government. If you retire from the federal government, any unused sick leave accumulated will be credited toward years of service for computing your annuity. For employees under the Federal Employees Retirement System (FERS) only, unused sick leave will be credited at a 50% rate through 2013; 100% credit will be given starting in 2014.


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Office of Human Resources Management
301-975-3000 Telephone
301-948-6107 Facsimile
100 Bureau Drive, M/S 1720
Gaithersburg, MD 20899-1720