Leave - Leave Without Pay (LWOP)
Leave without pay (LWOP) is a temporary non-pay, non-duty status granted
to an employee with supervisory approval. LWOP differs from absence without
leave (AWOL), in that LWOP is an approved absence from duty. Normally, an
employee must exhaust all annual leave before LWOP is granted. Exceptions
may be granted authorized in individual cases of a meritorious nature (see
circumstances cited below). A supervisor may authorize LWOP in a variety of
circumstances such as, but not limited to:
- training or continuing education that will be of benefit to the
- extended recovery time from serious illness or disability;
- job seeking when the employee’s spouse receives a transfer to
- personal court appearances;
- absences related to an on-the-job injury or occupational illness;
- military service, when military leave has been exhausted;
- sustaining employee status and benefits pending disability
- up to 24 hours of LWOP each year for school and early childhood
educational activities, routine family medical appointments, and elderly
relatives' health or care needs.
This entitlement may be
used to meet the needs of an employee’s same-sex domestic partner or the
Extended LWOP is a period exceeding 30 days duration. Extended LWOP
involves certain costs and inconveniences to the Government (i.e.,
encumbrance of a position, loss of needed services, complications of RIF
registers, etc.). Requests for extended LWOP must be examined closely to
assure that the value to the Government or the serious needs of the employee
offset these costs and administrative inconveniences. As a basic condition
to the approval of extended LWOP, there should be a reasonable expectation
that the employee will return to work at the end of the approved period.
Effect of Extended Leave Without Pay (LWOP) or Other Nonpay
Status on Federal Benefits and Programs
The amount of LWOP (or other nonpay status) that is considered
creditable service for purposes of determining an employee's entitlement
to or eligibility for the following Federal benefits and programs:
||The first 30 calendar days of each nonpay period are creditable
|Completion of probation
||A total of 22 workdays in a nonpay status is creditable service.
(requirements for promotion)
||Any nonpay status is creditable service.
A total of 6 months in a nonpay status in any calendar year
is creditable service. Coverage continues at no cost to the
employee while in a nonpay status.
When an employee is in a nonpay status for only a portion of
a pay period, contributions are adjusted in proportion to
his/her basic pay (5 U.S.C. 8332 and 8411).
Enrollment continues for no more than 365
days in a nonpay status.
The nonpay status may be continuous or broken by periods of
less than 4 consecutive months in a pay status (5 CFR 890.303(e)).
The Government contribution continues while an employee is in
a nonpay status.
The Government also is responsible for advancing from salary
the employee share as well.
An employee may choose between paying the agency directly on a
current basis or having the premiums accumulate and withheld
from his or her pay upon returning to duty.
Coverage continues for 12 consecutive months in nonpay status
without cost to the employee (5 CFR 870.401(c)) or to the agency (5
The non-pay status may be continuous, or it may be
broken by a return to duty for periods of less than 4 consecutive
A total of 2 workweeks in a nonpay status in a waiting period
is creditable service for advancement to steps 2, 3 & 4 of the
General Schedule; 4 workweeks for advancement to steps 5, 6 and 7;
6 workweeks for advancement to steps 8, 9 and 10. (5 CFR 531.406(b).)
For prevailing rate employees (WG, WL & WS) a total of
in a nonpay status is creditable service for advancement to step 2,
3 weeks for advancement to step 3, and 4 weeks for
advancement to steps 4 and 5 (5 CFR 532.417(b)).
|Accrual of annual and sick leave
||When a full-time employee accumulates 80 hours of
LWOP during a pay period, the employee does not earn annual leave or
sick leave during that pay period. The employee earns leave in the
next succeeding pay periods until he or she again accumulates 80
hours of LWOP during a pay period (5 CFR 630.208). When a part-time
employee is in a nonpay status, he or she will accrue less annual
leave and sick leave, since a part-time employee earns leave on a
pro-rata basis--i.e., based on hours in a pay status (5 CFR 630.303
and 630.406). For purposes of computing accrual rates for annual
leave (i.e., 4, 6, 8 hours each pay period), 6 months of nonpay
status in a calendar year is creditable service (5 U.S.C. 6303(a)
|Reduction in force (determining
years of service)
||A total of 6 months of nonpay status in a calendar
year is creditable service.
||Nonpay status time is fully creditable for the
12-month continuous employment period to qualify for severance pay
(5 U.S.C. 5595(b)(1) and 5 CFR 550.705). However, for purposes of
computing an employee's actual severance payment, any time in a
nonpay status that is not creditable for leave accrual must be
excluded from his or her creditable service. (5 U.S.C. 5595(c)(1)
and 5 CFR 550.707-708.)
|Thrift Savings Plan (TSP)
||An employee should refer to the TSP Fact Sheet -
Effect of Nonpay Status on TSP Participation, available from the TSP
link listed to the right under References.
|Military duty or workers’
||Nonpay status for an employee who is performing
military duty or being paid workers' compensation counts as a
continuation of Federal employment for all purposes upon the
employee's return to duty.