Reg Jones Expert's View

Annual Leave End-of-Year Roundup
Attention please. The 2014 leave year ends on Saturday, January 10, 2014, and the 2015 leave year begins on Sunday, January 11. That makes this a good time to explain how your annual leave accrual rate is set, how much of that leave you can carry over from one year to the next, and how much you’ll get in a lump-sum payment when you retire.


All civilian service that is creditable for CSRS or FERS is creditable when setting an annual leave accrual rate. For non-retired members of the armed forces, full credit is also given for active duty service, including active duty for training. For retirees, credit is limited to actual service during a war declared by Congress or while participating in a campaign or expedition for which a campaign ribbon is authorized or for active duty service that was based on a disability received as a direct result of armed conflict or caused by an instrumentality of war incurred in the line of duty during a war. At an agency’s discretion, credit may also be given to newly appointed employees (or former employees who have had a break in service of at least 90 days), but only if they have skills or experience that relate to the duties of the position to which they are being appointed.

If you have fewer than three years of creditable service, you earn 4 hours per biweekly pay period (13 days a year). Between 3 and 15 years of service, 6 hours per pay period (20 days a year). After you reach 15 years of service, you earn 8 hours per pay period (26 days a year).

Senior Executive Service members and other senior level scientific and technical employees earn 8 hours of annual leave per pay period (26 days a year) regardless of their years of service.

The amount of leave you earn as a part-time GS, Wage or PS employee is based on your years of service and the time you are in a pay status.


How much annual leave you can carry over from one leave year to the next depends on your employment category. GS and Wage employees can carry over a maximum of 240 hours (30 days). Any leave above that level is called “use or lose.” If you don’t use it before the leave year ends, you lose it.

If you are in the Senior Executive Service, you have a 720 hour carryover limit (90 days) unless you had more than that amount on October 13, 1994 when the limit was created. That number is your personal limit. If you fall below that limit at the end of any leave year, the lower number becomes your new limit.

If you are employed overseas, you can carry over 560 hours (45 days).

If you are a Postal Service bargaining unit employee, you can carry over 440 hours (55 days). Postal Service Executive and Administrative Schedule employees can carry over a total of 560 hours (70 days).

Cashing In

If you retire before the end of the leave year, you’ll be given a lump-sum payment for all your accrued and unused annual leave. The amount will be based on the hourly rate of basic pay you would have received if you had stayed on the job until your leave ran out.

The rules are different for Postal Service bargaining unit employees. You can be paid for any leave you carried over from the previous year and any additional leave you earned during the year you retire, not to exceed the carryover limit for your bargaining unit.