Press Releases

Wexton-Led Effort to Protect Federal Workers’ Annual Leave Benefits Included in NDAA

Washington, DC -- As a result of a 7-month long effort led by Congresswoman Jennifer Wexton (D-VA) to protect the earned benefits of federal workers impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic, most federal employees would be allowed to carry over an additional 60 hours of unused leave into 2021. The 2021 National Defense Authorization Act, which is being voted on by the House of Representatives today, includes a provision to allow federal employees to increase their accrued leave balance by up to 25%, for a total of 300 hours to be carried over. Currently, any leave accrued over the 240 hour cap for most federal workers is lost at the end of the benefit year, with limited exceptions.

Federal employees, including many in Virginia’s 10th District, have been unable to use hard-earned time off because of their essential work to aid the government’s COVID response as well as leave and travel restrictions.

“Federal workers are on the frontlines of this pandemic, standing up emergency food assistance programs, assisting struggling small businesses, getting stimulus checks out to Americans, and more. We owe it to them to protect their hard-earned benefits,” said Congresswoman Jennifer Wexton. “Pandemics don’t line up with benefit years and I’ve heard from many constituents who are concerned they will lose their annual leave -- that’s why I’ve been advocating for months to allow all federal employees to roll over their unused time off to next year. I’m proud that our federal workers can rest assured that Congress has their backs and will continue their important work to help Americans weather this crisis.”

“Federal employees have been doing their part to help control the spread of the coronavirus, including canceling vacations and staying home. That has left many with unused leave they would have to forfeit at the end of the year,” said AFGE National President Everett Kelley.  “Now thanks to a provision by Congresswoman Wexton, federal employees will be able to carryover an additional 25% of their unused leave an extra year. We appreciate the support of Congresswoman Wexton and all those in Congress who stand up for federal employees.” 

"As the clock ticked toward the end of the year, federal employees who worked throughout the pandemic were increasingly worried they would lose annual leave they had rightfully earned but couldn't use. Instead, Rep. Wexton stepped in and found a solution that allows them to carry over some extra hours of leave into 2021. Federal employees and NTEU are grateful for this sensible change that will ensure federal employees are not unfairly punished simply because they stayed on the job, day after day, serving the taxpayers," said NTEU National President Tony Reardon.

In May, Wexton introduced the Federal Frontline Worker Leave Protection Act to include work responding to COVID-19 as an instance that would allow federal workers to roll unused hours over. Following the introduction of Wexton’s bill, the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) issued a rule allowing certain essential federal employees during COVID-19 to hold onto their leave benefits. In October, Wexton along with her colleagues Reps. Derek Kilmer (D-WA), Don Beyer (D-VA), Gerry Connolly (D-VA), and Ed Case (D-HI), introduced the Federal Worker Leave Fairness Act to allow all federal workers to carry over the leave they have accrued when a national pandemic prevents employees from taking time off of work.