Guidance From OPM on Extra Half Day Off on Christmas Eve

Most federal employees will have time off on the afternoon before Christmas. There are exceptions. This OPM memo explains some of the exceptions and why some employees may still be charged or lose some leave on the day before Christmas.

Getting extra time off for Christmas is good news for most federal employees. Who doesn’t want an extra few hours away from the office without having to take leave?

But, as with much of what government does, many people will be impacted in different ways.

In coordination with the president’s executive order on granting federal employees the time off on the last half of the scheduled workday on Thursday, December 24, 2015, with pay and without a charge to leave, Office of Personnel Management (OPM) Acting Director Beth Cobert has issued a memo (see below) instructing agencies on details impacting the federal workforce.

For most federal employees, for pay and leave purposes, the last half of the scheduled workday on December 24, 2015, will be treated as falling within the scope of statutes and Executive orders governing holidays for Federal employees. 

But, as usual, there are exceptions.

For example, some employees will not get the time off when, in the judgment of the head of the agency, they cannot be excused for reasons of national security, defense, or other essential public need.

What if you already had leave scheduled for this time the day before Christmas? There is good news from OPM as an employee who was previously scheduled to take annual leave on December 24th will not be charged annual leave (or any other form of paid leave, compensatory time off, or credit hours) for the last half of the scheduled workday.

But, another wrinkle in the complex federal human resources system: What if you have scheduled “use or lose” leave for the afternoon that is now a few free hours away from work?

This is bad news from OPM: “If an employee has scheduled “use or lose” annual leave for the last half of the scheduled workday on December 24, 2015, and is unable to reschedule that leave for use before the end of the leave year (i.e., January 9, 2016), the leave will be forfeited.” So, you got the time off but gave up several hours of your annual leave because,  when “use or lose” leave is forfeited under these conditions, the law does not permit restoration of the leave.

Questions on Pay and Leave Administration for Dec. 24 and 25, 2015

About the Author

Ralph Smith has several decades of experience working with federal human resources issues. He has written extensively on a full range of human resources topics in books and newsletters and is a co-founder of two companies and several newsletters on federal human resources. Follow Ralph on Twitter: @RalphSmith47