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Transfer and recredit of leave


Moving between different leave systems. When an employee moves without a break in service between positions under different leave systems, annual and sick leave will be transferred or recredited on an adjusted basis (i.e., seven calendar days of leave are equivalent to five workdays of leave). 

Minimum units. Only leave in whole hour units may be transferred between Federal agencies. Fractional hours of leave are transferable within the Department as long as the gaining organization has a reciprocal leave usage policy; otherwise, they must be forfeited. An employee who is being hired by a Department entity that maintains leave in whole hours or another Federal agency should be advised to request and take the leave necessary to even off his or her leave balances prior to transferring. 

Leave availability. When an employee whose leave record is being transferred from another Federal agency must take leave before the official leave record is received, the supervisor should determine whether the employee has enough leave available to cover the absence. Leave balances reflected on the employee's last Statement of Earnings and Leave are considered acceptable evidence. If it is not possible to make such a determination, the supervisor may grant an advance of leave to the employee to the extent permissible under the employee's current appointment or charge the absence to leave without pay pending receipt of the employee's official leave record. 

Transfer and Recredit of Annual Leave

Transfer. Unused annual leave transfers with the employee if the employee moves from one position to another which is covered by Chapter 63, Title 5, U.S. Code. 

When annual leave cannot transfer. When an employee moves to a position under which annual leave cannot transfer or can only be transferred in part, the employee may elect a lump sum payment of the untransferred leave or have it held for recredit pending the employee's return without a break in service of more than 52 continuous calendar weeks to the leave system under which it was earned. If the employee does not return within 52 weeks, the untransferred leave must be liquidated by lump sum payment. 

Reemployed before exhausting lump sum. If an individual who has received a lump sum payment for annual leave is reemployed before the expiration of the period covered by the lump sum payment in a position covered by Chapter 63 of Title 5, U.S. Code: 

  • Under the same leave system for which the lump sum was paid, the employee shall refund an amount equal to the compensation covering the period between the date of reemployment and the expiration of the leave period;
  • Under a leave system different from that for which the lump sum was paid, and not all of the leave is transferable, refund is required only up to the amount of recreditable leave (33 Comp. Gen. 209). A refund will be required even when the reemployment is in a temporary position for less than 90 days (32 Comp. Gen. 387); and

If an individual who has received a lump sum payment for annual leave is reemployed before the expiration of the period covered by the lump sum payment in a position not subject to Chapter 63, Title 5, no refund is necessary, and no recredit of leave is made (33 Comp. Gen. 709).

Refund with no recredit. When a refund is necessary and no recredit is made, the annual leave represented by the refund shall be recredited as follows:

  • In an amount equal to the amount represented by the refund, if reemployment is under the same leave system;
  • On an adjusted basis if reemployment is under a different leave system than that which the lump sum was paid.

Transfer and Recredit of Sick Leave

Transfer. Unused sick leave transfers with the employee when an employee moves from one position to another which is covered by Chapter 63, Title 5, U.S. Code. 

When sick leave cannot transfer. An employee who moves to a position under a leave system to which his or her sick leave cannot transfer, or can transfer only in part, shall, if reemployed in the Federal service on or after December 2, 1994, be entitled to the recredit of any sick leave to his or her credit at the time of leaving the service without regard to the length of the break in service provided the leave was not used in the computation of an annuity. 

District of Columbia service. A District of Columbia employee whose first employment by the D.C. government was before October 1, 1987, who has had a break in service, is entitled to a recredit of sick leave, regardless of the date of separation, if he or she returns to Federal employment on or after December 2, 1994, provided the sick leave was not forfeited by employment in the Federal government before December 2, 1994.

Before sick leave is recredited to the employee's account, the date of separation and the amount of the leave to be recredited must be documented, either by reference to records in the possession of the agency where it was earned or by reference to earnings and leave statements or other written documentation in the employee's Official Personnel Folder or in the employee's possession. The decision as to whether the documentation supports the recredit of leave shall be made by the HRO. If there is any doubt as to any part of the leave which might be recredited, it shall not be recredited. 

Transfers from Federal Government to the DC Government. An employee who transfers from the Federal government to the DC government is not entitled to a transfer of sick leave. The sick leave is held in abeyance until the employee returns to the Federal government. 

On retirement. When an employee under the Civil Service Retirement System (CSRS) retires, unused sick leave is converted to Federal service credit for annuity computation purposes. Such unused sick leave may not be used to meet the basic Federal service retirement eligibility requirement.

An employee who converts to the Federal Employees Retirement System (FERS) from the CSRS may also have unused sick leave converted to Federal service credit for annuity computation purposes. However, this conversion is limited to the amount of sick leave accrued at the time of retirement system transfer (or the actual sick leave balance at the time of retirement, if less). 

Employees with Federal service only under the FERS are not eligible for the sick leave Federal service credit. There is no authority for lump sum payment of unused sick leave.

Special Provisions for Employees Who Transfer to an International Organization

Employees serving under an appointment not limited to one year or less who transfer to an international organization with the consent of the head of the operating unit are entitled to elect to retain all accumulated and accrued annual leave to their credit at the time of transfer which would otherwise be liquidated by lump sum payment.

On the transferring employee's request at any time before reemployment, the employee shall be paid for any annual leave retained. Should the employee receive a lump sum payment and be reemployed within six months after transfer, the lump sum payment must be refunded to the agency. This provision shall not cause a forfeiture of retained annual leave following reemployment or deprive an employee of a lump sum payment which would other-wise be paid. 

Special Provisions for Employees on Extended Active Military Duty

When an employee leaves the active military service and is restored to a civilian position in accordance with applicable Executive Orders, laws, and regulations, his or her leave accounts will be reestablished as a credit or a charge without regard to the date the individual left the civilian position. 

An employee who enters on active military duty may elect to have his or her annual leave remain for recredit after restoration to duty or to receive a lump sum payment. Such an employee may not elect to be paid for part of accumulated and accrued annual leave and to have the rest reserved for recredit upon restoration.

When an employee elects to retain annual leave for recredit upon restoration, the amount is "frozen" regardless of the employee's leave ceiling. When the employee returns to civilian employment, the limitation on leave carry-over will be applicable at the beginning of the leave year following the leave year in which the employee is restored to duty.

Special Provisions under the Back Pay Act of 1966

If an employee loses leave as a result of an unwarranted or unjustified personnel action as determined by decision of an appropriate authority, he or she is entitled to be recredited with all annual and sick leave which accrued during the period. An appropriate authority includes a court, the Comptroller General of the United States, the Office of Personnel Management, the Merit Systems Protection Board, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, the Federal Labor Relations Authority and its General Counsel, the Foreign Service Labor Relations Board, the Foreign Service Grievance Board, an arbitrator in a binding arbitration case, and the head of an employing agency or another official of the employing agency to whom such authority is delegated. There is no limitation on the amount of annual leave which may be restored, and any leave in excess of the maximum allowable shall be credited to a separate leave account.

An employee who is restored to duty retroactively after erroneous separation must refund a lump sum payment for leave, and this payment is a proper setoff against a backpay award. The erroneous lump sum payment may be subject to waiver under 5 USC 5584 to the extent necessary to avoid a net indebtedness (59 Comp. Gen. 395; 57 Comp. Gen.464.)

Updated October 2002.