Annual Leave

Annual leave is accrued leave that may be requested and approved for any purpose, subject to the right of the supervisor to approve the timing of when the annual leave may be taken. Common uses of annual leave include vacations, rest and relaxation, personal business, emergencies, medical and family care (e.g., pregnancy, childbirth, recovery from childbirth, bonding with or caring for a new born child, adoption, foster care, elder caregiving or medical appointments), as well as situations in which other categories of accrued leave may be unavailable. Supervisors are strongly encouraged to evaluate and make final decisions on requests for annual leave in a timely fashion.

Eligibility: Annual leave is provided by law and accrues automatically to permanent employees and temporary employees who are serving under appointments that exceed 90 days. Temporary employees who are on appointments limited to 90 days or less become entitled to annual leave once they have been employed continuously for 90 days. This entitlement exists regardless of how many successive appointments the employee serves before completing the 90-day waiting period, provided there is no break in service between the appointments. Once an employee completes 90 days of work, s/he is credited with the leave that accrued to her/him during that period.

Accrual: Full-time employees earn/accrue annual leave at a rate that is based on their years of service. Employees with less than 3 years of service earn 4 hours of annual leave per pay period; employees with between 3 and 15 years of service earn 6 hours of leave per pay period; and employees with 15 or more years of service earn 8 hours of annual leave per pay period.

Part-time employees earn leave on a pro-rated basis. During the first 3 years, they earn 1 hour of leave for every 20 hours in a pay status. Between their 3rd and 15th year, they earn 1 hour of leave for every 13 hours in a pay status; and, after their 15th year, they earn 1 hour of leave for every 10 hours in a pay status.

An employee's accumulation of nonpay hours during a leave year can affect her/his accrual of annual leave. Specifically, employees in a nonpay status will have their credit hours reduced once their hours in a nonpay status equal at least the hours in a pay period. For example, when a full-time employee with an 80-hour biweekly tour of duty accumulates a total of 80 nonpay hours from the beginning of the leave year, the employee will not earn annual leave in the pay period in which that 80-hour accumulation is reached.

Charges to Leave: Army practice is to charge all time – including annual leave – in increments no smaller than 15 minutes. Supervisors may only charge annual leave for an absence occurring during days and times when an employee would otherwise be working and receiving pay. Annual leave may not be charged for absences on holidays or other non-workdays unless the employee received additional pay for standby tours of duty. In cases where an employee does not have sufficient annual leave available to cover the period of leave requested, the excess absence is charged first to any available compensatory time, and then to leave without pay (LWOP).

Limitations on Use: Generally, there is no limitation on the amount of accrued annual leave that may be requested and approved during a leave year. However, supervisors are responsible for the overall planning, coordination, and approving of their employees' annual leave throughout the leave year to ensure that the agency's mission and employees' needs are met, and employees do not approach the end of the leave year with a significant amount of annual leave that must be used or forfeited. In addition, implementation of a letter of leave restriction may impact the manner in which an individual employee's requests for annual leave are evaluated and approved.

Forfeiture and Restoration: Most full-time employees are eligible to carryover no more than 30 days (240 hours) of annual leave from one leave year to another. Unless hired locally, full-time employees who work outside of the United States are eligible to carryover no more than 45 days (360 hours) of annual leave from one leave year to another. Part-time employees working in the United States may carry over a maximum of 240 hours. Part-time employees working overseas may carryover a maximum of 360 hours. At the end of a leave year, employees forfeit any unused accrued leave that exceeds their applicable leave ceiling. For that reason, any amount of annual leave that exceeds an employee's applicable annual leave ceiling for a given leave year is typically called "use or lose."

Employees may seek to have forfeited annual leave restored if the forfeited leave had originally been scheduled and approved before the start of the third pay period before the end of the leave year, and one of the following criteria is met: (a) an exigency of the service (i.e., an urgent need for the employee to be at work) existed which prevented the employee from being able to take the scheduled and approved annual leave; (b) the employee was ill and unable to utilize the scheduled and approved annual leave; or (c) the agency made an administrative error that caused the loss of annual leave otherwise accruable (e.g., the agency corrected its own miscalculation of the employee's service computation date for leave purposes).

Employees at installations closing or realigning pursuant to the Defense Base Closure and Realignment Act (BRAC) of 1990, and emergency essential employees working in a combat zone may have excess leave restored whether or not such leave was scheduled. When DA closes BRAC designated bases, or when emergency essential civilian employees work in a combat zone, it is considered an exigency of the service permitting employees to carry over use-or-lose leave without meeting the criteria for restoration.

Regardless of the reason underlying the leave restoration, employees must use their restored leave within two years after the end of the leave year in which the leave is restored unless there is an extended exigency under OPM rules as defined in 5 CFR, Section 630.309.

Annual Leave Balances and Separation from Civilian Federal Service: Employees receive a lump-sum payment for any accrued annual leave that remains unused when they separate from Federal service, or enter active duty and elect to receive a lump-sum payment. This includes the regular carryover balances from the previous year, if any; the current leave year's unused earned leave; and, any unused restored leave that has not reached the two-year expiration date. Employees who receive a lump-sum payment and are then re-employed by the government before the end of the period covered by the payment must refund an amount equal to the gross compensation received for the unexpired portion of the lump sum leave period. This includes pay before deductions of any kind and, if applicable, differentials and allowances received as well.

Labor Obligations: For bargaining unit employees represented by a union, review and comply with any provisions regarding use of annual leave in the applicable Collective Bargaining Agreement.

DOD guidance on annual leave is found in DoDI 1400.25, Volume 630.

Additional information may also be found in the Defense Finance and Accounting regulation, DoD 7000.14-R, Financial Management Regulation, Volume 8, Civilian Pay Policy, Chapter 5.

Content last reviewed: 10/23/2015 CAG/FNW