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Frequently Asked Questions Pay & Leave

Leave Policy

  • Yes. OPM's regulations at 5 CFR 353.208 implementing the Uniformed Service Employment and Reemployment Rights Act (USERRA) state that an employee performing service with the uniformed services must be permitted, upon request, to use any accrued annual leave, military leave, earned compensatory time off for travel, or accrued sick leave (consistent with the statutory and regulatory criteria for using sick leave), during such service. An employee is entitled to use annual leave, military leave, earned compensatory time off for travel, or sick leave intermittently with leave without pay while on active duty or active/inactive duty training.
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  • Employees who are called to active duty in support of the ongoing national emergency are entitled to military leave under two separate provisions.

    A Federal employee who is a member of the National Guard or Reserves is entitled to 15 days (120 hours) of paid military leave under 5 U.S.C. 6323(a) each fiscal year for active duty, active duty training, or inactive duty training. An employee on military leave under section 6323(a) receives his or her full civilian salary, as well as military pay. This leave accrues at the beginning of each fiscal year, and all Guard or Reserve members, including those on extended active duty, should be credited with 15 days of paid military leave on October 1 of each year.

    An agency now may charge military leave under 6323 (a) only for hours the employee otherwise would have worked. An employee no longer "loses leave" on weekends and other nonworkdays and will be paid his or her full civilian pay for all 120 hours. (See fact sheet on Military Leave at http://www.opm.gov/oca/leave/HTML/military.asp. This guidance does not apply to employees of the U.S. Postal Service.)

    In addition, effective November 24, 2003, employees who perform full-time military service as a result of a call or order to active duty in support of a contingency operation* as defined in section 101(a)(13) of title 10, United States Code, are entitled to 22 days of military leave under 5 U.S.C. 6323(b). Under this provision the employee is entitled to the greater of his military or civilian pay. (See Question 6.)

    Employees also are entitled to use any accrued or accumulated annual leave for periods of active military duty. Employees using annual leave will receive their full civilian pay, as well as compensation for their military service.

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  • The intent of OPM's regulations governing the use of sick leave for family care is to allow an employee to provide physical care and other assistance to a family member, as appropriate. This may include, for example, providing transportation and/or accompanying a family member to a health care provider's office or to a hospital or other health care facility, providing assistance during examination and/or treatment, and providing care and assistance during recovery. Under agency policies, managers and supervisors must use their judgment in administering the use of sick leave for family care or bereavement in a fair and equitable manner. It is not possible for OPM to regulate or specify the criteria for every situation that may arise.
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  • When the need for leave is foreseeable, an employee must give 30 days notice of his or her intent to take FMLA leave. When the need for leave is not foreseeable, an employee must provide notice as soon as is practicable. In addition, an agency may require an employee on leave for a serious health condition to provide initial medical certification and recertification every 30 calendar days. If the health care provider has specified on the initial medical certification a minimum duration of the period of incapacity, the agency may not request recertification until that period has passed unless other conditions arise that permit the agency to require recertification more frequently. (See 5 CFR 630.1207(h)(2)(i).)

    An agency's policies or procedures for notification of FMLA leave or medical certification may not be more stringent than required by OPM's regulations. If an employee who has been placed on leave restriction invokes his or her entitlement to FMLA leave, the agency must follow OPM's rules for notification and medical certification of FMLA leave.

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  • Yes. An employee may apply for and receive donated annual leave while their application for disability retirement is being processed. Under the Federal leave transfer and leave bank programs, an employee who is experiencing a personal or family medical emergency and who has exhausted his or her available paid leave may request to become an approved leave recipient and receive donated annual leave. Once the disability retirement application has been approved by the Office of Personnel Management, the leave recipient may no longer receive or use donated annual leave beyond the end of the pay period in which the agency receives the notice of allowance of disability retirement.

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  • See the annual leave fact sheet at - http://www.opm.gov/oca/leave/HTML/ANNUAL.asp
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  • No. An employee is entitled to the greater of his civilian or military pay, not both. Under 5 U.S.C. 5519, the military pay received by an individual who has been activated in support of civil authorities or a contingency operation must be credited (less any travel, transportation, or other per diem allowances) against any Federal civilian pay the employee received during the 22 workdays of military leave. An agency may calculate the amount of military pay (less any travel, transportation, or per diem allowances) an employee will receive for the time period that corresponds to the 22 workdays of military leave and reduce the employee's civilian pay by that amount during the 22 workdays of military leave. In contrast, many agencies choose to continue to pay the employee his or her full civilian pay during the 22 workdays of military leave. At the end of the 22-day period of military leave, the agency requires the employee to refund to the agency an amount equal to the amount of military pay received (less any travel, transportation, or per diem allowances) up to the amount of his or her civilian pay for the time period that corresponds to the 22 workdays of military leave.
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  • The Family and Medical Leave Act of 1993 (FMLA) entitles covered Federal employees to a total of 12 workweeks of unpaid leave (leave without pay) during any 12-month period for certain family and medical needs, including the birth and care of a newborn. An employee may elect to substitute paid leave (e.g., annual or sick leave) for the unpaid FMLA leave, but only to the extent such paid leave is permitted under current law and regulations. If an employee chooses to invoke his or her entitlement to FMLA leave to care for a healthy newborn, he or she may only substitute annual leave for the unpaid leave, as there is no authority to use sick leave to care for a healthy child. An employee's entitlement to FMLA leave expires on the first anniversary of the child's birth.


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  • Agencies do not need to process any personnel actions (SF 50s) for periods of annual leave, military leave, earned compensatory time off for travel, or sick leave since the payroll system documents an employee's use of paid leave. Agencies should document an employee's use of leave without pay (LWOP) to perform duty with the uniformed services by processing a personnel action (SF 50) using nature of action "LWOP-US" (nature of action code 473). The effective date is the first day the employee begins to use leave without pay for duty with the uniformed services.

    Employees may use annual leave, military leave, compensatory time off for travel, or sick leave (consistent with the statutory and regulatory criteria for using sick leave), intermittently with leave without pay while performing duty with the uniformed services. OPM does not require that agencies process return-to-duty actions for each period of paid leave. Periods of "LWOP-US" may be interrupted by periods of annual leave or military leave without the need to process any additional personnel actions.

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  • Yes. Each agency has discretionary authority to determine when it is appropriate to grant a reasonable amount of excused absence to employees who are unavoidably delayed in arriving for work. Factors such as distance, availability of transportation, and the success of other employees in similar situations should be considered in determining the amount of excused absence to grant. Employees are responsible for notifying their supervisors of their situation. 

    It is up to each supervisor to determine what is a reasonable amount of time to allow for excused absences for late arrival to ensure that the employee's work requirements are fulfilled and that the agency's operations are conducted efficiently and effectively. 

    Employees designated as "emergency employees" are expected to report for work on time.  However, agencies may, at their discretion and as circumstances dictate, grant a reasonable amount of excused absence to emergency employees who arrive late for work.

    The Washington, DC, Area Dismissal and Closure Procedures, available at https://www.opm.gov/oca/compmemo/dismissal.pdf, discusses the “unscheduled leave/unscheduled telework” announcement in more detail.

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