Use or Lose Annual Leave
Most employees can carry a maximum of 240 hours of annual leave from one leave year to the next. "Use or lose" annual leave is the accrued annual leave above the maximum carry over amount.
- You must use your excess annual leave by the end of a leave year or you will "lose" it (or forfeit it).
In some cases, you may be able to get the lost leave restored, but only if it was forfeited because of:
- An exigency of the public business
- Your sickness
- An administrative error
You must have had the annual leave scheduled for use in writing before the start of the third biweekly pay period prior to the end of the leave year.
For leave purposes, a leave year begins on the first day of the first full biweekly pay period in a calendar year. A leave year ends on the day immediately before the first day of the first full biweekly pay period in the following calendar year.
Returning from an overseas post - When you return from an overseas post you are allowed to carry a maximum of 360 hours of annual leave into a new leave year. At the end of that year, if your leave balance is less than 360 hours, then that lower balance becomes your new maximum carry-over amount. As each year goes by, your lower balance at the end of the leave year then what you started with at the beginning of the leave year becomes your maximum carry-over amount. Once your balance gets to 240 hours, then that becomes the maximum carry-over amount and it will not decrease any more. This is true for the following employees:
- Persons directly recruited or transferred by the Federal Government from a United States area (i.e., from the US or its territories and possessions including the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico) for employment outside the area of recruitment or from which transferred.
- Persons employed locally who: (a) were originally recruited from a US area (other than the area of employment); have been continuously employed by other Federal agencies; US firms, interests, or organizations; international organizations in which the US Government participates; or foreign governments, and whose conditions of employment provided for the return transportation to the US area; or (b) were at the time of their employment absent for the purpose of travel or formal study from their residence in a US area, and who during such temporary absence have maintained residence in such area of origin but outside the area of employment.
- Persons who are not normally residents of the overseas area and who are discharged from service in the Armed Forces of the US to accept employment with the Department.
The date on which an eligible employee becomes subject to the 360 hours leave ceiling is the date:
- of entry on duty when employed locally
- of arrival at a post of regular assignment for duty, or
- on which the employee begins to perform duty in an overseas area when such duty is required to be performed en route to the post of regular assignment.
Employees in senior-level (SL) and scientific and professional positions (ST) compensated under 5 U.S.C. 5376 may carryover a 90 days (or 720 hours) of annual leave at the start of each new leave year.
Senior Executive Service (SES) and Senior Foreign Service (SFS)
- SES and SFS have a personal ceiling o 90 days (or 720 hours) of annual leave that may be carried into a new leave year.
- Some SES/SFS employees may carry a larger amount if they were grand fathered in with a leave balance in October, 1994. (Check with your HR office)
- If an SES/SFS employee’s leave accrual exceeds leave used in any leave year (figured at the end of the leave year), leave in excess of the 720 hours is forfeited. Any leave subsequently restored must be kept in a separate account and used in accordance with regulations governing restored leave.
Moving out of SES/SFS – If you are an SES/SFS employee and you move out of an SES/SFS position or a position under which your benefits were protected by 5 U.S.C. 3392, you are entitled to keep your leave balance on that date. This balance becomes your new personal leave ceiling (if it does not exceed 720 hours). Any leave accrued from the time you move out of the SES/SFS through the end of the leave year, must be used or it will be forfeited at the end of the leave year.
Moving into SES/SFS – If you are entering into the SES/SFS, the portion of your leave balance that is above the applicable ceiling at the time you enter the SES/SFS is subject to the ceiling. If you don’t use it, it will be forfeited at the end of the leave year.
Pro-ration of leave - Annual leave that was accrued for any pay period in which an SES/SFS employee served only a portion under an SES/SFS appointment will be prorated. The portion of the leave associated with service in the SES/SFS is subject to the SES/SFS maximum carryover limitation.
Full-time employees on an uncommon tour of duty – If you are a full-time employee assigned to a 72-hour workweek (and receiving pay under 5 U.S.C. 5545(c)(1)), the maximum amount of annual leave that you can carry into a new leave year is 432 hours.
If you are a full-time employee assigned a 56-hour workweek (and receiving pay under 5 U.S.C. 5545(c)(1)), the maximum amount of annual leave that you can carry into a new leave year is 336 hours.
If you are on an uncommon tour of duty and you move to a position under a common tour of duty, any annual leave which was accumulated under the uncommon tour of duty which is in excess of the limits applicable to a position under a common tour of duty, becomes your individual leave ceiling for carry-over into the new leave year. This ceiling is applicable until you carry a smaller amount into the next leave year, at which time the smaller becomes your new ceiling. Once your balance gets to 240 hours, then that becomes the maximum carry-over amount and it will not decrease any more.
Part-time employees – If you are a part-time employee, your maximum carry over amounts are the same as for your full-time counterparts.