2013 Use or Lose Leave Guidance

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By law, the maximum amount of annual leave that most FEMA employees may carry into the new leave year (effective the first day of Pay Period 01, Sunday, January 12, 2014) is 240 hours.  Foreign Service employees, serving overseas, have a ceiling of 360 hours and certain members of the Senior Executive Service (SES), Senior Foreign Service, Senior-Level and Scientific and Professional positions, as well as Presidential Appointees retaining SES benefits, have a ceiling of 720 hours.

"Use or lose" annual leave is the amount of annual leave in excess of 240 hours or the employee's applicable annual leave ceiling. 

Any accrued annual leave in excess of the ceiling will be forfeited if not used by the final day of the leave year, Saturday, January 11, 2014, the end of Pay Period 26.

Scheduling “Use or Lose” Annual Leave

All employees and supervisors must schedule their “use or lose” annual leave before the end of Pay Period 23, Saturday, November 30, 2013.  Specifically, an employee with “use or lose” annual leave must place the leave request in WebTA no later than midnight on November 30, 2013.  The “use or lose” annual leave must be scheduled so that it is used no later than January 11, 2014. 

Restoration of Unused Annual Leave Only Under Limited Circumstances

Under limited circumstances, the Agency may restore “use or lose” annual leave that has been forfeited.  For example, if an employee is unable to use properly scheduled “use or lose” annual leave prior to January 11, 2014 because of an exigency of the public business or the employee’s sickness or injury, the forfeited “use or lose” annual leave may be restored after the beginning of the new leave year, January 12, 2014.  Supervisors should grant restoration of leave sparingly.  OCCHCO will distribute additional guidance to request restoration of forfeited leave that meet the following circumstances.

Exigency of the Public Business:  If an urgent mission-related need arises and the employee is required to be at work, the employee may have the leave restored provided that: 

  • The employee with “use or lose” annual leave has entered the leave request in WebTA no later than the end of Pay Period 23, November 30, 2013 at midnight and the “use or lose” annual leave is scheduled to be used no later than January 11, 2014; and  Prior to the date by which the “use or lose” leave would be taken, the supervisor denies the leave in WebTA (even if the supervisor had originally approved it) and the supervisor documents the reason for the denial in WebTA.  The head of the Agency or his designee must make the determination that an exigency of the public business requires the employee to be at work.  PLEASE NOTE: The pressure of normal workloads, seasonal variations in work, or other situations which careful scheduling might obviate, do not constitute an exigency of the public business.
  • Government Shutdown:  If “use or lose” annual leave was properly scheduled and some or all of the leave cannot be rescheduled for use before the end of the leave year, Saturday, January 11, 2014 because of the furlough of employees between October 1-16, 2013, the employee may request restoration of the “use or lose” annual leave because of an exigency of the public business.  Documentation of the leave request in WebTA is required.  In addition, if an employee is unable to reschedule previously approved annual leave that was cancelled during the lapse in appropriations, and it is forfeited at the end of the leave year, the amount of annual leave that was canceled during the lapse in appropriations may be considered for restoration.  Documentation of the leave request in WebTA is required.
  • Employee’s Sickness or Injury:  If sickness or injury occurs late in the leave year or was of such duration that the “use or lose” annual leave could not be rescheduled for use before the end of the leave year, the employee may request restoration of the “use or lose” annual leave with documentation of the sickness or injury, provided that the employee with “use or lose” annual leave has entered the leave request in WebTA no later than the end of Pay Period 23, November 30, 2013 at midnight, and the “use or lose” annual leave is scheduled to be used no later than January 11, 2014.

FERS/CSRS Retirees

Employees who plan to retire on or after January 12, 2014 must schedule their “use or lose” annual leave in accordance with this notice to avoid forfeiture.  If annual leave is forfeited and does not meet the requirements for restoration, it will not be included in the employee’s lump sum payment for accrued annual leave. 

How to Donate Unused Annual Leave

As an alternative, employees may donate “use or lose” annual leave to approved recipients under the Agency’s Leave Transfer Program.  Click here for specific guidance.

Leave donations made for this purpose are limited to no more than the number of hours remaining in the leave year for which an employee is scheduled to work (non-leave) and receive pay.
Should you have further questions regarding “use or lose” leave or donating your annual leave, please contact OCCHCO Operations-Payroll Unit at 1-866-896-8003 or email: FEMA-HC-MYPAYSOLUTIONS@DHS.GOV.  Employees may also work with their local designated timekeepers or Time & Attendance Organization Representative to address “Use or Lose” leave questions.

Last Updated: 
11/15/2013 - 13:38
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