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Leave Regulations

Purpose

This amplifies the principal requirements of law and regulation and provides procedural guidance for the administration of hours of work and leave. The levels of delegation reflects the authorities to make human resources management decisions, to administer human resources management programs and activities, and to effect personnel actions as cited in DAO 202-250, excluding those for which administrative approval is still required within the Office of the Secretary. In citing reasons for any action, direct reference the laws and regulations below.

Related Laws and Regulations

Chapter 55 of Title 5, U.S. Code;

Chapter 61 of Title 5, U.S. Code;

Chapter 63 of Title 5, U.S. Code;

5 CFR 550, Pay Administration (General);

5 CFR 610, Hours of Duty; and

5 CFR 630, Absence and Leave.

Coverage

Material on hours of work in this Handbook applies to all employees of the Department except:

  • Presidential appointees whose pay is fixed at Level V or above of the Executive Schedule, i.e., those compensated on an annual basis without regard to hours worked;
  • Commissioned Foreign Service Officers and members of the Senior Foreign Service (U.S. Department of State Foreign Affairs Manual, Volume 3, Chapter 410, has been adopted for use in Commerce);
  • Non-U.S. citizens employed in positions outside of the United States (U.S. Department of State Foreign Affairs Manual, Volume 3, Chapter 940, has been adopted for use in Commerce);
  • Commissioned officers of the NOAA Corps;
  • Wage marine employees paid under 5 U.S.C. 5348; and
  • Employees of the NOAA who conduct meteorological investigations in the Arctic region under 62 Stat. 286; 15 U.S.C. 327.

All employees of the Department are entitled to the leave benefits described in this Handbook, except the following:

  • Presidential appointees whose pay is fixed at Level V or above of the Executive Schedule, i.e., those compensated on an annual basis without regard to hours worked. Career Senior Executive Service and Foreign Service Officers who accept a Presidential appointment and elect to retain leave coverage are entitled to the leave benefits described in this Handbook;
  • Employees who do not have a regular, established tour of duty prescribed in advance (e.g., intermittent employees);
  • Temporary employees hired solely for the purpose of work on a specific construction project and paid at hourly rates;
  • Employees appointed without compensation;
  • Employees paid on a fee basis;
  • Commissioned officers of the NOAA Corps; and
  • Employees serving as chiefs of mission in the foreign service.

Definitions

Absent Without Official Leave (AWOL). A period of absence without pay for which an employee did not obtain prior approval.

Accrued Leave. Leave earned by an employee during the current leave year that is unused at any given time in that leave year.

Accumulated Leave. Unused leave remaining to the credit of an employee at the beginning of a leave year.

Advanced Leave. Annual or sick leave hours granted for use prior to being earned.

Approving Official. An official who has delegated authority to take or approve action affecting an individual’s status or pay in the Federal Service, as identified in DAO 202-250, or to any manager or supervisor to whom specific authority has been delegated and is reflected in an official organizational statement, internal delegation of authority, or his or her position description or performance plan.

Emergency Employee (formerly essential employee). An employee who occupies a position that has been determined to be critical, i.e., job that may be vital to public health, safety, welfare, national defense, or the operation of essential facilities or functions.

Excused Absence. An approved absence from duty without loss of pay and without charge to an employee's leave.

Family Member Leave. An umbrella term used to describe who, in relation to the employee, may receive entitlements under the Voluntary Leave Transfer Program, the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA), the Emergency Leave Transfer Program, unpaid leave (LWOP) for family friendly purposes and for use of sick leave for general family care or to care for a family member with a serious health condition. Under the Voluntary Leave Transfer Program, the Emergency Leave Transfer Program and for sick leave for general family care or to care for a family member with a serious health condition, family member includes the employee’s: 1) spouse and parents; 2) children, including stepchildren and adopted children, and their spouses; 3) grandparents; 4) brothers and sisters, and their spouses; and 5) and any individual related by blood or affinity whose close association with the employee is the equivalent of a family relationship. Under the FMLA, family member is restricted to the employee’s: 1) spouse; 2) son or daughter; 3) or parent. When using unpaid leave (LWOP) for family friendly purposes, family member is anyone related by blood or marriage.

Leave under the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA). A maximum of 12 administrative workweeks of unpaid leave during any 12 month period for one or more of the following: (1) birth of a child and care of the newborn, (2) adoption or placement of a child, (3) treatment of one's own serious health condition, (4) care of a family member with a serious health condition.

Funeral Leave. Leave in conjunction with the burial of a military member or veteran and sick leave used for bereavement, i.e., to arrange or attend the funeral of a family member.

Furlough. The administrative placing of an employee in a temporary status without duties and pay due to lack of work or funds or other non-disciplinary reasons.

Leave Without Pay (LWOP). An approved absence from duty in a non-pay status requested by an employee.

Leave year. A period beginning with the first day of the first pay period which begins wholly in the new calendar year and ending with the day immediately before the first day of the first pay period which begins wholly in the following calendar year.

Non-pay status. Any day(s) or hour(s) for which an employee is not entitled to get paid. The employee is on the agency's rolls, but not in pay status; i.e., employee is on LWOP, AWOL, suspension, or furlough.

Restored Leave. Annual leave that was previously forfeited because of the employee's exceeding the maximum leave accumulation for carryover into a new leave year, but that has now been restored to the employee's account. Restored annual leave is not added to an employee's current annual leave balance, but is maintained in a separate account(s).

Sick leave for expanded family care. Sick leave to care for a family member with a serious health condition. A full-time employee is entitled to 12-weeks of sick leave for this purpose, if certain conditions are met (prorated for part-time employees and those with an uncommon tour of duty). Any amount of sick leave used for general family care or bereavement must be deducted from the 12-week entitlement for expanded family care.

Sick leave for general family care. Sick leave entitlements formally under the Family Friendly Leave Act (FFLA) and the Treasury, Postal Service and General Government Appropriations Act for Fiscal Year 1995. The first authorizes sick leave to provide general care for a family member or to arrange for a family member's funeral (family friendly sick leave). The second authorizes sick leave for adoption and also establishes an additional leave entitlement for bone marrow and organ donation.

Suspension. The placing of an employee for disciplinary reasons in a temporary status without duties or pay.

Uncommon tour of duty. Any tour of duty in which a full pay period consists of other than 80 hours.

United States. The 50 states and the District of Columbia.

Unscheduled Leave Policy. A provision that permits employees other than those who are designated as "emergency" to take annual leave, accrued compensatory time, or leave without pay without the prior approval of supervisors when the agency is open for business but circumstances such as adverse weather make it impracticable for employees to report for work as scheduled.

Basic Premises

Supervisors are to respond timely to employees' requests to be absent. Employees must provide reasonable notice of their leave plans if they expect leave to be approved, and a reasonable explanation if they request emergency leave.

An employee may not be placed on enforced leave as a disciplinary action; as a prelude to disciplinary action; during an investigation of suspected wrongdoing; because he or she does not appear to be ready, able and willing to work; during an administrative closing of an office; or when, in an emergency, there is a temporary lack of work or funds. Supervisors must consult with their human resources office (HRO) when determining an appropriate action under these or similar situations.

An employee may not be charged with FMLA leave unless they expressly invoke their entitlement.

Denial or cancellation of leave must not be disciplinary in character or used as a punitive measure. Employees are responsible for the cost of telegrams, telephone calls, and faxes when making application for leave, extension of leave, etc.

Applying for Leave

Except for the Office of Personnel Management's Forms 1637 and 1638 (Application to Become a Leave Recipient Under the Emergency Leave Transfer Program and Request to Donate Annual Leave Under the Emergency Leave Transfer Program, respectively), the SF-71 (Application for Leave) is the only form authorized by the Department for requesting and approving leave. Unless otherwise stated or negotiated, it is a matter for supervisory discretion whether or when an employee is required to submit an SF-71. The employee's initials and the supervisor's certification on the Time and Attendance Report will be sufficient to indicate approved leave taken. Note that the SF-71 must be used to invoke entitlement to Family and Medical Leave and OPM forms 1637 and 1638 (Application to Become a Leave Recipient Under the Emergency Leave Transfer Program and Request to Donate Annual Leave Under the Emergency Leave Transfer Program, respectively) must be used to apply for and receive annual leave donations under the Emergency Leave Transfer Program.

Charges to Time and Leave

Charges to annual and sick leave accounts may not be made in increments of less than one hour unless an operating unit head has elected another practice. Components of the Department of Commerce have the option of charging annual or sick leave in increments of 15 minutes. This option does not extend to military, home or shore leave but may extend to charges of AWOL. Inasmuch as practice in this area is discretionary with operating units, it does not require approval at the Department level.

Absence Due to Injury While Serving Abroad

Absence without charge to leave for a period up to one year is allowed to an employee who cannot work due to an injury which results from war, insurgency, mob violence, or similar hostile actions occur-ring while the employee was working abroad. This entitlement is independent of any claim or entitlement of the employee under Chapter 81 of Title 5, U.S. Code, relating to injury compensation.