While the current federal leave year doesn’t end until January 3 for most employees, the last date for scheduling “use or lose” annual leave is Saturday (November 21).

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 interim rules OPM issued in August, employees who would be in a use or lose situation because the agency deems they were needed to remain on the job “to support the nation during a national emergency.” including the Coronavirus pandemic. will have their excess annual leave deemed to have been scheduled in advance and eligible for restoration.

Last month legislation (HR-8457 and S-4777) was introduced to more broadly protect all employees against losing leave because of the pandemic, on grounds that some employees who would not qualify under the OPM standard have not been able to take time off because of heavy workloads, while others have had to cancel planned vacations because of restrictions on travel. Those measures have not advanced, however.

Leave that otherwise would be forfeited could instead be donated to agency leave-sharing programs for employees facing health or other emergencies who have used up their own leave.

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FERS Retirement Guide 2021