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Leave FAQs


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Requesting Leave

Before taking leave, you should complete an OPM 71, Request for Leave or Approved Absence and submit the form to your first level supervisor for approval.
If your absence exceeds your original estimate, you should ask for more time and tell your supervisor when you expect to return to work.
If you have a personal or family emergency, or if you are too ill to report for duty, you should contact your supervisor or the person who has been identified as the designated alternate within two hours of your scheduled reporting time. When you talk to your supervisor you should explain how long you expect to be absent and provide a reason for your absence.
Yes. Also in the case of an unplanned personal or family emergency or illness, you should submit the completed  OPM 71, Request for Leave or Approved Absence to your supervisor upon your return to duty.
Leaving a message on your supervisor’s voice mail or talking to a co-worker or the office administrative assistant is not an acceptable way to notify your supervisor. You should never assume you are on approved leave unless you have personally talked to your first level supervisor or the individual officially designated to act on your supervisor’s behalf. At a minimum, leave a message and a number where you can be reached. Call again if you don’t hear from your supervisor within the first two hours of your official reporting time. If you don’t reach your supervisor, you should prepare to report to work. Remember that if your leave is not approved, you may be charged Absent Without Approved Leave (AWOL).

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Sick Leave

You earn one hour of sick leave for every 20 hours worked. If you are a full time employee who works 40 hours per week, you earn four hours every pay period -- 104 hours per year -- a total of 13 days. There is no limit to the total amount of sick leave you may accumulate. Part-time employees earn one hour of sick leave for each 20 hours in a pay status.
A serious illness is defined as incapacitation due to illness or injury, pregnancy or exposure to a communicable disease.
Under some circumstances you may have to provide your supervisor with a doctor’s certification when requesting sick leave (e.g. if you are absent for more than three days, if you are using donated leave, if you are requesting leave under the Family Medical Leave Act, or if you have been directed to provide such documentation under a Letter of Requirement).
Yes, you may use your sick leave for routine medical, dental, optical or therapy appointments. This type of request should be made at least 24 hours in advance of your scheduled appointment.
If you are a full time employee, you may use up to 40 hours of sick leave each leave year to provide care for a family member. If you maintain a minimum balance of 80 hours of sick leave in your account, you may be eligible to use an additional 64 hours. The total amount of sick leave that a full-time employee may use for family care is limited to the maximum amount of leave you earn in one year -- 13 days (104 hours ) -- or a prorated amount for part-time employees.
Yes, you may take sick leave for bereavement purposes. You may use any or all of the hours available for family care to make the arrangements or attend the funeral of a family member.
Yes. A family member is defined as your spouse; your parents or your spouse’s parents; your children, including adopted children and their spouses; your brothers and sisters and their spouses; or any individual related by blood or affinity whose close association is the equivalent of a family relationship.
Yes, you may borrow up to 240 hours of sick leave or the amount equal to what you earn in one leave year. If you are serving under a temporary or term appointment, you may only borrow an amount of sick leave equal to what you are projected to earn. Submit a request to your supervisor using the Advance Leave Request Form.
If you had a break in service, you are entitled to a recredit of sick leave -- that is if your leave was forfeited and you returned to Federal employment on or after December 2, 1994.
There is no limit to the amount of sick leave you can accumulate. However, leave should only be used for a serious personal or family illness. Employees who exhibit a pattern of excessive absences may be counseled and/or placed on strict leave use requirements. If the problem is not corrected, supervisors may take progressive disciplinary action -- even removal.
Employees under the Civil Service Retirement System (CSRS) have accrued sick leave credited to their time in service for purposes of computing retirement annuities, but this sick leave time cannot be used to meet minimum time requirements for retirement. This provision does not apply to the Federal Employees Retirement System (FERS).

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Excused Absence

Excused absence is an authorized absence from duty without loss of pay and without charge to other paid leave. This type of leave is granted sparingly.
Employees may be excused from duty without charge to leave in cases of extreme hazardous weather conditions. When such cases, which are only approved at the command level, result in in the shut-down of a work site, employees may be dismissed or excused without charge to leave for a specified period of time or for the entire workday.
Supervisors have the authority and may occasionally excuse time off for periods of less than one hour, 59 minutes or less. However, this type of excused absence should be granted sparingly and may not be combined with breaks, lunch periods, or any other type of leave.
If you participate in a blood donor program, you may request to be excused from work without charge to leave for the time necessary to donate blood and recuperate from giving blood, not to exceed four hours. This provision does not cover donations for personal use or donations for compensation.
You may request to report to work up to three hours after the polls open or leave work three hours before they close, whichever period involves less time away from work.

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Time off Awards Frequently Asked Questions

Time Off Awards are scheduled and used just like annual leave. However, you must use your awarded time off within 52 weeks of receipt. If you don’t use the time off within one year, you will lose the time and it can not be restored. If you transfer to another agency, your Time Off Award will be lost.

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Court Leave Frequently Asked Questions

Federal employees who serve as a member of a jury are allowed to be absent from from work without any charge to leave.
If you have to serve as a witness in a judicial proceeding involving the US Government, state, or local government, you may be absent from work without loss of pay. Employees who appear in court on behalf of the government are considered to be on official duty rather than on leave. If you are involved in a trial not involving any government entity, however, you must use your own leave.

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Family Medical Leave Frequently Asked Questions

You can protect your position for up to 12 weeks, if you request sick leave under the Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA). The FMLA allows you to take up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave each year if you have a serious health condition, including pregnancy and childbirth. You may also request this type of leave for the birth or adoption of a child or to care for a family member with a serious health condition.
To apply for FMLA you must submit a OPM 71, Request for Leave or Approved Absence along with a Department of Labor Certification Form to your supervisor. A current leave and earning statement and doctor’s certification must accompany your request.
No. You may substitute paid leave (e.g. annual leave, sick leave, donated leave and advance leave) for unpaid leave, by checking the appropriate block on your OPM 71 . However, please remember that paid leave may not be substituted for unpaid leave retroactively -- you must request paid leave at the time you request FMLA.