Skip to main content




The commonly used word by millennials to describe performing activities once so far outside the realm of daily life that now when you actually do them you think you’re completing some monumental task.


There are certain tasks that despite completing high school, receiving my undergraduate degree and now having finished one year of my Masters, I still do not know how to do. These always seem like the really necessary skills in life too, like filing your taxes, making an insurance claim, using annual vacation and sick leave, etc. Well in the case of the latter I finally now know and understand the inner workings of annual vacation and sick leave. Having worked in several government offices and grown up with retired federal employees, I regularly hear the terms “use or lose” or “annual leave”. Yesterday as my supervisor was assigning a task to me she explained the inner workings of them. I am not sure if this was because of the dumbfounded look on my face, or because she just recognized it was all confusing to her when she originally entered the workforce. Understanding this sort of process is the epitome or “adulting”. No longer can I just request random days off, or call in sick, I need to understand this stuff because of the rainy day occurrence when I am going to really need to know it.

This is a warning now, this blog post may be very boring, but to be honest writing it down in a place that will be posted on the internet will help me because I can now refer back to it. Currently, I am earning 4 hours of leave for each pay period, this will continue for about 3 years and then I will start earning 6 hours per pay period. I will earn 6 hours for quite some time until I reach a supervisory level in which I will eventually earn 8 hours per pay period. Every year employees can carry over 240 hours of paid leave. This 240 hours is your “safety net” anything over this amount you lose at the end of the year if you do not use it (hence the “use or lose” term). At the beginning of your career you want to really try to save up your leave to build up this safety net. If you never use this safety net you will get a cash payout when you retire. Between the 240 hours you earn as leave, and the 208 hours you will earn your last year of work you will use this to live before your pension kicks in after retirement. Now sick leave is completely different, you earn this and you never lose it, but you cannot cash it out either. My supervisor’s husband for instance rarely ever used sick leave and after 10 years had earned about 9 months of it. Now while the temptation of many may be to “call in sick” every once in awhile, she warns against it. As a breast cancer survivor herself, she was happy she had sick leave and her safety net saved up when she had to go through treatment. She told me the story of an employee that was injured (not on the job) and had been working for the park service for some 30 years, who got into an accident off-duty and by the second day out of work was looking for leave-share (which is a whole other bag of worms). Now I know that was boring, but I appreciated the life lesson, cause you never know where life will take you and it’s important to plan ahead (…still don’t know how to do taxes though…).


Comments are closed.