Pay and Leave Guide

Federal Leave and Pay Basics

This guide provides an overview of common leave and pay issues federal employees encounter, and how to remedy them.

Entitlement to leave

All federal employees accrue leave during the course of their employment. The rate they accrue this leave is controlled by a schedule based on seniority.

Pay issues


Leave and Pay Problems — Usually part of a larger issue

Leave and pay issues can present themselves in a variety of ways in the federal sector.  For example, The Equal Pay Act, aims to prevent pay discrimination based on sex.  Additionally, many theories of discrimination cover leave and pay issues as well as other discriminatory harms. There are also independent laws that focus on leave and pay such as the The Family and Medical Leave Act of 1993 (FMLA), which entitles individuals up to 12 weeks of leave without pay (LWOP) within any 12-month period to attend to certain family medical needs.

Entitlement to retirement

Leave can also have a significant interplay with retirement eligibility and retirement benefits.  To illustrate, in some instances your available leave can entitle you to early retirement.  A misapplication of that leave, or improper calculation could prevent an employee from enjoying the benefit of early retirement.

Military leave (USERRA)

Additionally, there are even more specific laws related to leave. The Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act of 1994 (USERRA), for instance, includes protections for paid military leave and the crediting of wrongfully charged annual or sick leave, when military leave should have been charged.


Generally, leave and pay issues are a consequence of a larger issue such as discrimination, a disciplinary case, or a disability.


If you were the subject of discipline, such as a removal or suspension and that discipline was subsequently overturned or withdrawn you are likely eligible for back-pay.