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  4. Leave

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Leave Transfer Program

In 1988, Congress passed a law providing a way for federal employees to share leave. The Leave Transfer Program is available so that if you - or a family member - experience a medical emergency, and as a result miss more work days than are covered by your own leave, you can avoid the additional hardship of lost income by using leave hours donated by others.

Leave Transfer Program Essentials

You can use donated annual or restored annual leave when you have met the following conditions:

  • You are ill or incapacitated, or caring for an incapacitated family member
  • All your accrued sick and annual leave is used up
  • You have been or anticipate that you will be on unpaid status for at least 24 hours.

You have to apply to receive donated leave, and your application must be approved by your supervisor and your servicing Human Resources Office.

Leave transfers may be done within the Department and between most other Executive-branch agencies. You can also accept leave donations from family members (if they are federal employees). There are some exceptions.

Donors can contribute only their own accrued annual leave and/or accrued restored annual leave

Donors may not donate sick leave.

When your medical emergency is over, any donated leave that you didn’t use is prorated and returned to the donors.

If you’re involuntarily separated from your job, you may be able to use donated leave to stay on the agency’s rolls long enough to qualify for retirement or continued health benefits.

Strict privacy rules apply to all files maintained about leave transfers, and the identity of donors and recipients.

Qualifying, Applying, and Finding Donors

Only certain medical emergencies allow you to participate in the Leave Transfer Program. For example, elective surgery doesn’t qualify but normal pregnancy, childbirth and recuperation qualify as a medical emergency.

You can only receive donated leave if your application is approved. You can’t accept leave donations beforehand and save the leave for future use. To apply, use the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) form OPM-630:

  • The form includes the number of hours you’re requesting, and a short description of the medical emergency (yours or your family member’s)
  • The form has to be completed no more than 30 calendar days after the end of the medical emergency.
  • Your supervisor checks the application and forwards it to the servicing human resources office, and they have 10 working days to notify you in writing that they approve or disapprove your application.

After you’re approved as a recipient, it’s up to you to find volunteer donors.

  • If you’re incapacitated another employee can be authorized to represent you, as your representative, and find volunteer donors.
  • Your supervisor is supposed to give you a reasonable amount of time to find donors to contribute the leave you need.
  • If you return to work without having had enough transferred leave to cover your absence, your servicing human resource office can approve a 45-day extension to receive additional leave donations. To do this, you have to make a request in writing to your servicing human resources office through your supervisor.

Donating Leave

Anyone in the Department can be a donor, but of course you can’t pressure people in any way to donate hours. There are very serious penalties if you do, or if you aren’t absolutely truthful about the situation.

If you want to donate annual leave to somebody who has been approved as a recipient, you must complete form OPM-630A.

  • You submit the completed form to your servicing human resources office.
  • You will be notified in writing within 15 working days whether your application to donate annual leave hours has been approved or not.

If you want to donate leave to an employee of a different federal Executive agency, you must complete a different form: OPM-630B.

  • You submit this form to your own servicing human resources office, along with a copy of the recipient’s approved application.
  • Your servicing human resources office arranges the donation with the other agency.

How Much Leave You Can Donate

The maximum annual leave you can donate is half the leave you would accrue in the year the donation is made. Find detailed rules about end-of-year donations and waivers of rules here.

You can’t donate leave to your immediate supervisor.

Using Donated Leave

You can receive and use up to one calendar year of donated leave (2,087 hours) for a particular medical emergency.

  • Leave recipients with part-time or uncommon tours of duty are limited to receiving, for any given medical emergency, the number of hours they would have been expected to work during the year (based on an average of the hours worked in the previous 12 months).

You can use donated leave to:

  • Pay back advanced annual or sick leave, and even earlier leave without pay that resulted from the medical emergency.
  • Use for days that you would otherwise be working.

You can’t use donated leave for any other purpose, such as personal days.

While you’re on donated leave, you still accrue annual and sick leave. The leave you accrue is “set aside” in a special account and you may use it when you run out of donations or once the emergency is over.

When You Can’t Use Donate Leave

If your absence is covered by unemployment compensation, you can’t receive leave donations.

If you’re eligible for donated leave after an injury, and it’s later determined that you can receive workers’ compensation, you can use the donated leave until the workers’ compensation is approved, and later pay it back. The key fact is that you can’t get double compensation.

While You’re Out on Donated Leave

While you’re absent, you have to submit a status report every three months to your supervisor, who may request certification by your doctor along with your status update. Your supervisor forwards the report to your servicing human resources office. If you’re incapacitated and can’t submit a report, a representative will have to do so.

When the Medical Emergency is Over

In most situations, you go back to work on the date stated in your original application for donated leave.

The set-aside amounts of annual and sick leave that accrued while you were using donated leave and that you have not already used, will be transferred into your regular accounts.

The leave transfer program officer in your servicing human resources office will do a detailed audit of balances and tell your supervisor and office timekeeper how hours should be allocated.

If there’s donated leave in your account that you didn’t use, your servicing human resources office will arrange to return those hours to the donors, using a formula to calculate how many hours will be returned. Donors have some choice in how they receive these restored hours.

If a personal medical emergency ends in your resignation, retirement, disability retirement, death, or disability retirement, your servicing human resources office should be notified immediately.

Files and reports

Servicing human resources offices must maintain files on leave transfers separate from each recipient’s other personnel files. The leave transfer case files may be destroyed one year after the year in which the case closes. Check here for details on what documents must be kept in leave transfer files.