Annual leave versus leave without pay


Q. Can a supervisor force an employee to take leave without pay over taking annual leave? The employee’s day care provider called in sick, and the employee had to stay home with a healthy 4-year-old child. The employee has exhausted sick leave but has an annual leave balance, as well as some comp and credit time. The supervisor denied the request for annual leave and instead put the employee on LWOP for the day. The employee called in and left a voice mail for the supervisor promptly on the day the child care provider was not available. Can the supervisor do this?

A. According to OPM, “An employee may use annual leave for any purpose, including vacations, rest and relaxation, and personal business or emergencies. An employee has a right to take annual leave, subject to the right of the supervisor to schedule the time at which annual leave may be taken.” Therefore, your supervisor was operating within authority in putting you on LWOP. However, there was no requirement that your supervisor do that.

Because there may be more going on in your supervisor-employee relationship than you’ve revealed in your email, you’ll need to discuss with your supervisor the reasons behind the decision.


About Author

Reg Jones was head of retirement and insurance policy at the Office of Personnel Management. Email your retirement-related questions to

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