Traveling on a federal holiday


Q: I am being required to travel on a federal holiday to attend training.  My Human Resources department has advised me that I will not be given travel compensation time off  or paid overtime based on a 2005 OPM directive.  That is:  “Although most employees do not receive holiday premium pay for time spent traveling on a holiday (or an “in lieu” holiday), an employee continues to be entitled to pay for the holiday in the same manner as if the travel were not required.  Thus, employees may not earn compensatory time off for travel during basic (non-overtime) holiday hours because they are entitled to their rate of basic pay for those hours.  Compensatory time off for travel may be earned by an employee only for time spent in a travel status away from the employee’s official duty station when such time is not otherwise compensated.”  My background in contracting tells me that the government cannot accept “free” services.  By forcing me to travel on my own time (holiday), the government is basically accepting free services. Seems like I’m being short-changed a holiday or, at least, pay for hours worked.  I believe  Human Resources is interpreting this guidance incorrectly, i.e., “ . . . when such time is not otherwise compensated.” If I receive no compensatory time off or overtime, how am I being “otherwise compensated“ – the pay for the holiday is already earned by law.  I have been unsuccessful in researching the OPM Web site for newer guidance.  Can you comment on or confirm the validity of this policy?

 A: The OPM quote that your agency provided you is both true and current.



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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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