‘Use It Or Lose It’ Leave Policy Suspended For Service Members

Under Secretary of Defense for Personnel and Readiness Matthew Donovan has signed a department-wide authorization for service members to accrue and retain an additional leave balance of up to 120 days. Due to the Corona Virus restrictions, members of the Armed Services have not been able to use their leave balances.

Military personnel will not feel the pressure of “use it or lose it” in regard to annual leave policies currently in place. “Use or lose” annual leave is the amount of annual leave that is in excess of the employee’s applicable annual leave ceiling. Any accrued annual leave in excess of the ceiling will be forfeited if not used by the final day of the leave year. Forfeited annual leave may be restored under 5 U.S.C. 6304(d).

The Department of Defense domestic and overseas travel restriction for service members and their families is currently through May 11, 2020. The restrictive actions are in response to COVID-19 to protect the health and well-being of service members and to keep the military force effective and ready, according to a DOD memo.

The department’s actions to stem the spread of COVID-19 has significantly limited the ability of service members to take leave during this national emergency. Leave can now be accrued in excess of 60 days, but not more than 120 days, through September, 2023, Donovan states.



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