Government Vacation Rewards Explains: How Many Vacation Days Do Federal Employees Get?


Not sure how many vacation days you can earn from Uncle Sam? We’re here to help.

Federal employees are privy to a wide range of excellent benefits, including generous salaries, excellent retirement plans — and, compared with the private sector, tons of vacation days!

Have you recently started a government job? We’ve assembled a brief guide to federal vacation benefits to help you plan your next trip.

Vacation and Sick Leave

Every federal employee is entitled to ten paid holidays each year, and that’s just the start! On top of that, federal employees will also receive 13 days of vacation in the first three years of service. After three years, you’ll have 20 vacation days at your disposal, and after the 15-year point, you’ll receive a whopping 26 vacation days, on top of paid holidays. When you have this many vacation days to work with, you better start planning some life-changing trips!

Regardless of how long you’ve been employed, as a federal employee, you are also entitled to 13 days of sick leave per year. If you don’t use those days, they’ll carry over into the next year, which means that many federal employees will amass a large amount of sick leave during their career. Upon retirement, unused sick leave can be exchanged for an increase in your pension payments. Military time also counts toward benefits — for example, three years of military service equates to four weeks of paid vacation.

If you use all of your sick leave for a major illness (or for childbirth), you’ll also find that the federal government provides a particularly generous vacation policy: six weeks of advanced leave for additional coverage (although the advanced leave has to be paid back through future sick leave). You’ll also have access to leave donation programs, which allow federal employees to donate their sick leave to colleagues who have severe medical conditions.

Paid Holidays

As mentioned above, federal employees enjoy ten paid holidays each year:

  • New Year’s Day (January 1)
  • Martin Luther King, Jr. Birthday (Mid-January)
  • Washington’s Birthday (February)
  • Memorial Day (May)
  • Independence Day (July 4)
  • Labor Day (September)
  • Columbus Day (October)
  • Veterans Day (November)
  • Thanksgiving Day (November)
  • Christmas Day (December 25)

When Does the Leave Year Begin For Federal Employees?

It may sound a little complicated, but a leave year begins on the first day of the first full biweekly pay period in a given calendar year. This period ends just before the first full biweekly pay period in the following calendar year.

Federal employees can accrue up to 240 hours of leave in one year, which can be carried over to the next year. If the total quantity of allotted annual leave is not used within the calendar year for which it is assigned, it will be forfeited. Just like the policy for unused sick leave, unused annual leave can be cashed in upon retirement for a generous lump sum payment.

After you’ve figured out just how long you can get away to relax, you’ll need to plan your vacation. Government Vacation Rewards has you covered: we offer unbeatable rates for all government employees, including active duty military members, veterans, civilian contractors, and more. We even offer exclusive deals and rewards programs for our members, and it’s free to sign up for an account! So, what are you waiting for? Book a trip through Government Vacation Rewards today.

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