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While the current federal leave year doesn’t end until January 1 for most employees, the last date for scheduling “use or lose” annual leave is Saturday (November 20).

Generally, employees may carry forward no more than 30 days (240 hours). Employees stationed overseas may carry up to 45 days; and SES, senior level, and senior scientific and professional employees may carry up to 90 days.


An agency may restore annual leave subject to forfeiture if the employee was unable to take it due to an “exigency of the public business” but only if the leave was scheduled before the start of the third to last pay period in the leave year.

Under rules OPM issued last year, employees who would be in a use or lose situation will have their excess annual leave deemed to have been scheduled in advance and eligible for restoration if the employing agency deems that they were needed to remain on the job “to support the nation during a national emergency.” Those rules were issued specifically in response to the Coronavirus pandemic but apply generally to all national emergencies.

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