Time Off Awards for Federal Employees

Time off awards are a unique form of award agencies can grant Federal employees. (The other forms of awards are cash, honorary items, and informal recognition items). Agencies decide when and how to use time off awards to enhance their overall awards program and support the achievement of the agency’s goals and mission. Major features of time-off awards include the following: `

Time off awards do not require additional funding or cash disbursement by agencies. Because the form of the award is time off from duty and it does not have explicit cash value, agencies do not have to provide additional funding or disburse additional cash. However, they do need to remember these are salary dollars being paid for time not worked, so there is a cost involved.

Agencies cannot convert time off awards to cash under any circumstances. Agencies need to ensure employees will value, and are able to use, these awards. For example, if an agency grants a time off award to an employee who plans to leave 2 months later, the agency cannot convert the award to cash, even though the employee might not be able to use the time off award before leaving the agency.

OPM does not set Government wide limits on the amount of time off an employee may receive. Agencies must establish their own guidelines and limitations on how much time off is appropriate for various employee contributions. Such guidelines should also contain any timeframes within which employees must use the award, which the agency determines are appropriate.

Agencies may combine time off awards with other forms of awards. Agencies may grant time-off awards along with other forms of awards as long as the total value of the awards given is commensurate with the contribution being recognized. For example, an employee might receive an award consisting of both a day time off award and $50 as recognition for a single contribution as long as the combined value of the awards is commensurate with the employee’s contribution.

Time off awards are among the awards prohibited for certain employees during Presidential election periods. Section 4508 of title 5, United States Code, prohibits non career Senior Executive Service employees or appointees in confidential or policy determining (Schedule C) positions from receiving certain awards during a Presidential election period. This period is from June 1 of any year in which there is a Presidential election through January 20 of the following calendar year.

Eligibility Criteria

Most Federal employees are eligible for inclusion in a time off award program. Federal agencies may grant time off awards to any Federal civilian employee, either as an individual or member of a group, who meets the definition of employee in Section 2105 of title 5, United States Code. This definition includes an individual appointed in the civil service by:

The President,

A member of Congress,

A member of a uniformed service,

An employee,

The head of a Government-controlled corporation, or

An adjutant general designated by the Secretary concerned under section 709c of title 32.

In addition, to meet the definition of employee, the individual must perform a Federal function and be subject to the supervision of an individual cited above while performing official duties. The definition of employee also includes employees who are individuals employed at the U.S. Naval Academy in specific jobs (see 5 U.S.C. 2105 for a more detailed description).

Basis for Granting Time off Awards

Agencies may grant time-off awards for:

a suggestion, invention, superior accomplishment, productivity gain, or other personal effort that contributes to the efficiency, economy, or other improvement of Government operations or achieving a significant reduction in paperwork; or

a special act or service in the public interest in connection with or related to official employment.

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