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Home leave

For Foreign Service employees, also refer to Volume 3, Foreign Affairs Manual, Section 450, Home Leave.


Home leave is a period of approved absence with pay authorized by 5 U.S.C. 6305 for employees stationed abroad. Home leave is for use in the United States, or if the employee's place of residence is outside the area of employment, in the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico or the territories or possessions of the United States.


Continuous creditable service begins with the date of the employee's arrival at a post outside the United States, or on the date of the employee's entrance on duty if recruited abroad. Continuous creditable service ends on the date of the employee's departure from the post for separation or assignment in the United States, or on the date of separation from duty when separated abroad. 

Month means a period which runs from a given date in one month through the day preceding the numerically corresponding date in the next month.

Service abroad means service by an employee at a post of duty outside the United States and outside the employee's place of residence if his or her place of residence is in the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico or a territory or possession of the United States.

When computing an employee's continuous creditable service, full credit is given for the day of arrival at and the day of departure from a duty station or post abroad and includes:

  • Nonpay absence not to exceed two workweeks within each 12 months of service abroad;
  • Authorized leave with pay;
  • Time spent in the Armed Forces which interrupts other-wise creditable service (but only for eligibility, not leave-earning, purposes); and 
  • Periods of details.

Eligibility for Home Leave

Employees serving outside the United States who meet the requirements of 5 U.S.C. 6304(b) for the accumulation of a maximum of 45 days (360 hours) of annual leave are eligible for home leave benefits.

Accrual of Home Leave

The rate at which an eligible employee earns home leave depends on the conditions or terms of the appointment (position or assignment) accepted by the employee. The number of days of home leave that may be earned by an employee for each 12 months of service abroad and the conditions or terms that are used to determine the employee's rate of earnings are as follows:

15 days - for an employee who accepts an appointment, or occupies a position requiring the employee to accept assignments anywhere in the world as needed by the agency; is serving with a U.S. mission to a public international organization; or is serving at a post for which payment of a post differential of 20 percent or more is authorized by law or regulation.

10 days - for an employee who does not meet the requirements for the accrual of 15 days, but is serving at a post for which payment of post differential of at least 10 percent but less than 20 percent is authorized by law or regulation.

5 days - for an employee who is otherwise entitled to accrue home leave but does not meet the specific requirements of 1 or 2 above.

No home leave will be accrued for an employee who would normally meet the requirements for the accrual of home leave, when the period of service abroad is interrupted by a tour of duty in the United States Armed Forces. However, the time spent in the Armed Forces will be counted towards "continuous creditable service." 

The decision that an employee qualifies for 15 days of home leave for each 12 months of service abroad, on the basis they are obligated to accept assignment anywhere in the world, shall be made by ap-pointing officers of the operating units. The employee concerned shall execute a written statement of understanding of this requirement. 

The following chart provides the rate at which home leave will be accrued based on "full months" of service abroad. The leave shall be credited to an employee's leave account, in multiples of 1 day, as it is earned.

Months of Service Earning Rate 15 days Earning Rate 10 days Earning Rate 5 days
1 1 0 0
2 1 1 0
3 1 1 1
4 2 1 0
5 1 1 1
6 1 1 0
7 1 1 0
8 2 1 1
9 1 1 0
10 1 1 1
11 1 1 0
12 2 1 1

When an employee moves from one home leave earning rate to another during a month of service abroad, or when there is a change in the rate of percent for the authorized post differential during a month of service abroad that results in a change in the home leave earning rate, the agency shall credit the employee's home leave account with the leave accrual to which he or she was entitled to earn before the change became effective. 

Home leave accumulates for future use without specific limitation.

Scheduling and Granting Home Leave

An employee may not be granted home leave until he or she has completed a basic service period of 24 months (18 months for Foreign Service employees) of continuous creditable ser-vice outside the United States.

The basic period of service is terminated by a break in service of one or more work-days; or an assignment (other than a detail) to a position in which the employee is no longer subject to 5 USC 6305(a).

Home leave is to be granted only when an employee is expected to return an to overseas assignment. 

The approval of home leave shall be at the discretion of officials authorized to approve the leave. Home leave may be granted in combination with other leaves of absence in accordance with established agency policy.

The minimum charge for home leave is one day; any additional charges shall be made in multiples of one day.

The agency may grant home leave only for use during an employee's period of service abroad, or within a "reasonable" period of time upon the employee's return from service abroad when it is expected that he or she will return to service abroad immediately or on completion of an assignment in the United States.

Home leave not granted during service abroad or within a reasonable time after return, may be granted only when the employee has completed a further period of service abroad of not less than the tour prescribed for the post of assignment. However, an earlier grant of home leave may be approved, as warranted by unusual individual circumstances.

Refund of Home Leave

An employee is indebted for any home leave used when he or she fails to return to service abroad after a period of home leave, or after the completion of an assignment in the United States. The indebtedness can be liquidated by a charge against the employee's annual leave or by cash payment to be arranged by and with the consent of the agency and may be subject to a request for waiver (see 4 U.S.C. Subchapter G, Standards for Waivers of Claims for Overpayment of Pay and Allowances).

An employee is deemed not to be indebted for any home leave used when the:

  • Employee completed not less than six months of service in an assignment in the United States following the period of home leave;
  • Agency determines that the employee's failure to return was due to compelling personal reasons of humanitarian or compassionate nature, such as may involve physical or mental health or circumstances over which the employee had no control; or
  • Agency which granted the home leave determines that it is in the public interest not to return the employee to an overseas assignment.

Transfer and Recredit of Home Leave

Accrued home leave shall be transferred by the losing agency or recredited by the gaining agency to the leave account of an employee who moves between agencies or is reemployed in the Federal service without a break in service in excess of 90 days.

Home leave may not be the basis for terminal leave or a lump sum payment.