The Office of Personnel Management (OPM) last week published an interim rule allowing some federal employees to carry forward more than 30 days of annual leave into next year if they were unable to schedule that leave due to their duties responding to the coronavirus pandemic.
This rule would protect federal employees from losing annual leave under the normal “use or lose” rules. The new rule also establishes the same policies to future national emergencies.
The rule published in the Federal Register on Aug. 10 states:
The Office of Personnel Management is issuing interim regulations to assist agencies and employees responding to the National Emergency Concerning the Novel Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19) Outbreak and for future national emergencies. The regulations provide that employees who would forfeit annual leave in excess of the maximum annual leave allowable carryover because of their work to support the nation during a national emergency will have their excess annual leave deemed to have been scheduled in advance and subject to leave restoration.
Because of the unprecedented outbreak and spread of this virus and the efforts toward response and recovery, many Federal agencies and employees have been, and for the foreseeable future will continue to be, engaged in work vital to our nation and to the pandemic response. Under current rules, some of these employees will be unable to use sufficient annual leave to avoid exceeding the limit on annual leave that may be carried over into the next year. The Office of Personnel Management (OPM) is issuing interim regulations to assist such agencies and employees and to address any similar situations during future emergencies.
For most employees, the maximum annual leave that may be carried into the next leave year is 30 days (240 hours). Currently, an agency may restore annual leave that was forfeited due to an exigency of the public business or sickness of the employee only if the annual leave was scheduled in writing before the start of the third biweekly pay period prior to the end of the leave year (typically late November or early December). Any annual leave scheduled after that date will be forfeited if not used by the final day of the leave year.
The regulations provide that, once the agency head or designee has made appropriate determinations, employees who would forfeit annual leave in excess of the maximum annual leave allowable carryover because of their work to support the nation during a national emergency will have their excess annual leave deemed to have been scheduled in advance and subject to leave restoration.
To read the full text of OPM’s regulation, go here.