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Paid Leave - FederalPay.org

Paid Leave

Paid leave is quite generous within the federal government. Despite generally lower wages and sometimes less opportunity for growth than in private companies, the total compensation offered by the federal government, when you take into account benefits like paid leave, is very competitive.

Annual Leave

The amount of annual leave, sometimes called personal leave or vacation time, that is accrued is based on time of service within the federal government. Annual leave is accrued increments of 4 to 8 hours per pay period. A pay period is every two weeks and typically 80 hours. If you work more or less than 80 hours in a pay period you will not accrue any annual.

Employees new to the government earn 4 hours of annual leave per 80 hours worked. If you are a full time employee, that equates to 13 days of paid personal leave per year. After 3 years to federal service employees earn 6 hours per pay period or 19.5 days per year. After 15 years of full time federal service employees earn 8 hours of paid personal leave per pay period which is equal to 26 days off per year.

When an employee leaves a government job – either for retirement or to peruse another non-federal job – the employee will receive monetary compensation for unused annual leave. Employees may only accrue so much annual leave. If stationed in the U.S. you can accrue no more than 30 days of annual leave; if you are stationed outside of the U.S. you may accrue no more than 45 days of annual leave; and if you are a member of the Senior Executive Service you may accrue up to 90 days of annual leave before the time is forfeited.

Sick Leave

Sick leave is always earned at a rate of 4 hours per pay period. Sick leave can only be used for an approved reason such as illness; illness of a dependent or family member; and maternity or paternity leave. Sick leave can be credited towards retirement time but employees will not be credited for unused sick leave when leaving the government for a non-federal job. There is no maximum amount of sick leave that an employee may accrue.

It is important to know that employees can use up to 12 weeks of sick leave for maternity or paternity leave but once sick leave has expired an employee will not be paid for the time off.

The rates above describing the amount of accrued annual and sick leave apply to employees on all pay scales except the Senior Executive Service (SES) schedule. Employees on the SES schedule receive 8 hours of sick and annual leave per pay period regardless of time in service.

Paid Holidays

In addition to paid annual and sick leave federal employees receive paid leave for the 10 federally recognized holidays. Even if these holidays fall on a weekend employees will still receive the Friday before or the Monday after off.

View when each Federal Holiday occures.

Employees who observe religious holidays that are not federally observed may work a temporarily modified schedule in order to have a particular day or part of the day off of work. The time missed must be made up and the modified schedule must be approved by a supervisor. Federal holidays are:

  • New Year’s Day – January 1st
  • Martin Luther King Jr. Day – Third Monday of January
  • President’s Day – Third Monday of February
  • Memorial Day – Last Monday of May
  • Independence Day –July 4th
  • Labor Day – First Monday of September
  • Columbus Day – October 12th
  • Veteran’s Day – November 11th
  • Thanksgiving – Third Thursday of November
  • Christmas – December 25th

In addition to leave with pay, under certain conditions employees may receive leave without pay (LWOP). Acceptable reasons for leave without pay are military deployment in the U.S. Armed forces or maternity or paternity leave. While under LWOP status individuals are still considered employees but do not receive pay and their time on LWOP does not count towards their time-in-service. Time-in-service is used to determine leave benefits, retirement benefits, vesting of retirement contributions and several other employee benefits.

Paid Leave Earned Per 2-Week Pay Period

Years In ServiceAnnual LeaveSick Leave
0 Years4 Hours4 Hours
3 Years6 Hours4 Hours
15+ Years8 Hours4 Hours


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** This Document Provided By www.FederalPay.org - The Civil Employee's Resource **
Source: www.federalpay.org/article/paid-leave