Reg Jones Expert's View

Several times recently I’ve written about annual leave, including how you accrue more of it annually after passing certain thresholds of years of service: after three years of service, it increases from 13 to 20 days pre year, and after 15 years, it goes up to 26 days (for a full-time employee; part-time employees are prorated).

What’s less well known is that non-federal work or armed forces experience can, in some cases, be counted toward passing those thresholds.


Rather than quoting all the formal and repetitive language in OPM’s guidance, I decided to boil part of it down for ease of reading and understanding. In short, it says that service credit for annual leave accrual purposes can be given to newly appointed employees, employees who have returned to government service after a break of at least 90 calendar days.

This isn’t an entitlement. It’s a discretionary authority that an agency can use to meet its strategic human capital needs.

At this point, it’s best to let OPM speak for itself:

“The head of an agency, or his or her designee, must determine that the skills and experience the employee possesses are –

essential to the new position and were acquired through performance in a non-Federal or active duty uniformed service position having duties that directly relate to the duties of the position to which he or she is being appointed; and necessary to achieve an important agency mission or performance goal.

“The head of an agency, or his or her designee, must make the determination to approve an employee’s qualifying prior work experience before the employee enters on duty – the determination cannot be made retroactively.” (My italics.)

The amount of service credit granted can’t exceed the actual time the individual performed the duties that are directly related to the job to which he or she is being appointed. Once the employee completes one full, continuous year of employment, that time is permanently creditable for determining the annual leave accrual rate for the rest of the employee’s career.

However, if the employee leaves the federal service (or transfers to another federal agency) before completing one full, continuous year of service with the agency that awarded the annual leave credit, that credit will be subtracted and a new service computation date for annual leave established.

Note that this applies to annual leave accrual only, and not for service crediting toward a retirement benefit.