Do You Know How Your Annual & Sick Leave Work?

If you have questions GPIS is here to help!

Do You Know How Your Annual & Sick Leave Work?

Annual Leave

An employee can use annual leave for vacations, relaxation, personal business use and emergencies. Annual leave must be scheduled and approved by a supervisor prior to commencing. Employees should always request annual leave in a timely manner to ensure proper planning and scheduling with their supervisor.

Annual Leave Accrual Rates for Employees

Annual leave accrual is based on time of service within the federal government. A new, full-time employee will earn 4 hours per 80 hours (two-weeks) worked. This is approximately 13 days of paid annual leave per year. After gaining tenure, the amount of leave earned increases. You can see the table below, per OPM, on years of service and leave amounts granted per year.

Annual Leave Carryover

For most federal employees, 30 days is the maximum amount of annual leave that can be carried over into the new leave year. There is a “use or lose” provision. Any leave that hasn’t been used, and is above and beyond the ceiling allowed, will be forfeited.

Annual Leave Payouts at End of Career

At the end of their career, federal employees will receive a lump-sum payment for any accumlulated leave time. Typcailly, they are paid out at the employees’ hourly salary rate.

Transfer of Annual Leave

On OPM’s website, “a covered employee may donate annual leave directly to another employee who has a personal or family medical emergency and who has exhausted his or her available paid leave. Each Agency must administer a voluntary leave transfer program for its employees.”

Typically, there is not limit on the amount.

If you would like to inquire about either receiving or donating leave time, check with your supervisor and/or agency on the specific details for the program. Ultimately, your employing agency will approve or deny the application.

Sick Leave for Federal Employees

Federal employees are entitled to use sick leave for personal medical needs, family care or bereavement, care of a family member with a serious health condition, and adoption related purposes.

Sick Leave Accrual Rates for Employees

Per OPM’s website, the following accrual rates are applicable for full time, part time and tours of duty.

Sick Leave Carryover

There is no limit to the amount of sick leave a federal employee can accumulate.

Sick Leave Use at End of Career

At the end of a federal employees working career, sick leave can be used towards year and months of service purposes. However, it’s important to note that sick leave cannot qualify employees for retirement eligibility based on years of service. Only after the thresholds have been reached can sick leave add to years of service computation time.

Make sure you don’t lose those sick days. Work with one of our specialists to determine how to maximize your sick leave, while also not leaving and days on the table.


Due to COVID-19, check with your agency on your leave options. Due to COVID-19, if you have been unable to work due to circumstances resulting from COVID, you may have additional leave time available. Also, if you’ve been unable to take time off due to working long hours (being short-staffed due to COVID) you may have additional leave carried over.

Interested in learning more about YOUR leave numbers?

Schedule your FREE federal benefits review and retirement analysis here.

For more information, you can contact your friends at GPIS by calling 866-201-7829 or by sending an e-mail to

-Sam Wiss, Retirement Income Certified Professional (RICP ®)




We are here to help. Our goal is to provide you with the knowledge and tools to make educated decisions when it comes to your benefits and retirement. Contact us today!

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