Leave, Holidays and Flexible Work Arrangements

Leave and Holidays

The federal government offers generous vacation, sick leave and holiday policies.


When you first enter the federal workforce, you will receive 13 days of paid vacation per year, and your number of vacation days increases with your length of service. You can also carry over up to 30 days of vacation time for the following year.

Length of ServiceVacation Days Per Year
1 to 3 years13 days
3 to 15 years20 days
15 or more years26 days

Sick Leave

Federal employees accumulate 13 days of paid sick leave each year regardless of length of service. You are not limited to the amount of sick leave that can add up over time. Sick leave can count for any of your own medical needs, if you need to take care of anyone in your family, are having a child or are going through an adoption process.


All federal employees receive 10 days of paid holidays per year. See the 2019 federal holiday schedule.

Flexible Work Arrangements

Do you despise the idea of working a traditional eight to five job? Are you worried about being in a stuffy office all day long? Or maybe you want to lessen your carbon footprint through reduced travel? No matter the case, one advantage of working in the federal government is the opportunity to have an alternative work schedule. Alternative work schedules help keep life balanced and, therefore, keep both agencies and employees happy and engaged.

Alternative Work Schedules

Alternative Work Schedules allow you to balance work and personal responsibilities. There are two main types of Alternative Work Schedules: Flexible Work Schedules and Compressed Work Schedules.

  • Flexible Work Schedules allow you to build a custom schedule as long as you maintain 40 hours per week. Agencies establish core hours of business, typically from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., during which employees are required to work. Their additional work time can then be completed anytime between 7 a.m. and 10 p.m.
  • Compressed Work Schedules give you the flexibility to work 40 hours per week in less than 5 days. Typical compressed schedules allow employees to work 9 hour days which means they can have a 3 day weekend every other week. Some agencies may even allow you to work 10 hour days resulting in 4 day work weeks every week.

Part-time Work and Job Sharing

Part-time work or job sharing allows you to facilitate the lifestyle you need while still progressing in your career.

  • Part-time employees work less than 40 hours per week.
  • Job sharing, a form of part-time employment, is a situation where a single position is filled by two or more part time employees. These federal employees each work up to 32 hours a week.


Telework is a benefit of federal employment that allows you to work from home or another convenient location. By law, each agency must establish a telework policy, so eligible employees can have the opportunity to utilize this advantage. For more information, see A guide to telework in the federal government.

Please be advised that not all agencies utilize the alternative work schedule. If this is a benefit that is important to you, make sure to do research ahead of time to verify that this is something the agency you are pursuing participates in.