Use-or-Lose Leave and the Partial Shutdown

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By on January 10, 2019 in Pay & Benefits with 0 Comments

Illustration of a person writing on a notepad labeled 'annual leave' at the top with a passport and calendar on a desk next to it

Use It or Lose It?

Readers have been asking questions about what will happen to their “use-or-lose” annual leave that could not be used due to the partial government shutdown. The question is important because, when there is a lapse in appropriations, all paid leave or other paid time off is canceled.

Some federal employees had scheduled leave to be taken before the end of 2018. Because this scheduled leave was canceled, these federal employees are wondering what will happen to the leave they had not yet used.

OPM to the Rescue

The Office of Personnel Management (OPM) has now answered that question.

OPM has issued a notice stating that “annual leave in excess of an employee’s annual leave ceiling ‘shall be restored’ (i.e., no agency discretion) if it is lost (forfeited) ‘because of . . . exigencies of the public business’ when the leave was ‘scheduled in advance.'”

In practice, this means an employee had to have scheduled the leave “before the start of the third biweekly pay period prior to the end of the leave year.”

OPM and the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) made the decision, in guidance issued prior to the lapse, that a lapse in appropriations is an “exigency of the public business” for purposes of annual leave restoration.

Restoring Forfeited Annual Leave

In short, as long as an employee had leave scheduled in advance, his or her employing agency is required to restore the annual leave that was forfeited because of the lapse in appropriations.

This will apply if the affected employees were furloughed or excepted from the furlough.

In order for forfeited annual leave to be considered for restoration under applicable regulations, the leave must have been scheduled in writing no later than November 24, 2018.

Restoration of Annual Leave…

© 2019 Ralph R. Smith. All rights reserved. This article may not be reproduced without express written consent from Ralph R. Smith.

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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

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