HR: Benefits: Trust Employees
Leave and Holidays

Eligibility Requirements

You must be serving under an appointment of 90 days or more and have a regularly scheduled tour of duty.

Annual Leave

The amount of annual (vacation) leave you earn is based on the length of time you have worked for Smithsonian. New full-time employees earn 4 hours each pay period (13 days per year) for the first 3 years of employment. Employees with 3 to 15 years of employment earn 6 hours per pay period (20 days per year) and employees with 15 or more years of employment earn 8 hours each pay period (26 days per year). Part-time employees earn annual and sick leave in proportion to the hours they work.

The manner in which annual leave is requested should be discussed with your supervisor.

Unused annual leave (not to exceed 240 hours) may be carried over into the next leave year. Senior Level employees may accumulate and carry forward a maximum of 90 days (720 hours) of annual leave. If you leave SAO, your balance of unused annual leave will be paid in a lump sum.

Sick Leave

Full-time employees earn 4 hours of sick leave each pay period (13 days per year) regardless of length of employment at Smithsonian. If you are a part-time employee, you will earn sick leave in proportion to the hours you work.

Limited amounts of sick leave may be used in the following instances:

  1. when the employee is incapacitated for work due to sickness, injury, pregnancy and confinement;
  2. to receive medical, dental, or optical examinations or treatment;
  3. to care for a family member who is ill;
  4. to make funeral arrangements or to attend the funeral of a family member;
  5. when participating in a drug or alcohol counseling program;
  6. for any and all purposes related to the adoption of a child; and
  7. to serve as a bone marrow or organ donor.

For more information about the total amount of sick leave that can be used in each instance, please email

The manner in which sick leave is requested should be discussed with your supervisor.

Unused sick leave (unlimited hours) may be carried over into the next leave year. If you leave SAO, your sick leave balance will be "frozen". If you return to another leave-earning, Trust Fund position in the future, your unused sick leave will be restored.

Other Types of Leave

Administrative leave, court leave, and military leave benefits are available to Trust Fund employees under the same conditions and terms outlined in Smithsonian's Leave Administration policy.

Leave Transfer Program

An employee may receive annual leave donations from other employees if the employee or a family member, is experiencing a medical emergency, and the employee is facing substantial loss of income because of the unavailability of paid leave. A medical emergency is a medical condition likely to result in prolonged absence of the employee and loss of pay for at least 10 workdays.

To establish eligibility, an employee who has been affected by a medical emergency (or a representative designated by the employee) must submit a Leave Recipient Application to the Human Resources Department for approval. Other Trust Fund employees may donate their annual leave to approved leave recipients by completing a Leave Donor Application. Federal employees and Trust Fund employees are only eligible to receive donations from employees covered by the same pay system.

Transferred leave will be used only after a recipient's accumulated annual and/or sick leave have been exhausted. Such leave may be substituted retroactively for leave without pay, and may be used to offset advance annual or sick leave granted for the medical emergency. Additional information about this program is available in the SAO Employee Handbook, which is accessible from the HR Main Webpage.

Family and Medical Leave Act of 1993

As a general rule, full-time and part-time employees are covered under the Family and Medical Leave Act of 1993 (FMLA) if they have 12 months of service in the personnel system in which they are currently working (Federal or Trust). The 12 months is not required to be recent or consecutive. Employees serving under appointments limited to one year or less or under intermittent appointments are not covered unless they have completed at least one year of service.

FMLA provides covered employees with an entitlement to 12 workweeks of unpaid leave during any 12-month period for the following reasons:

  1. the birth of a son or daughter of the employee and the care of such son or daughter
  2. the placement of a son or daughter with the employee for adoption or foster care;
  3. the care of a spouse, child, or parent of the employee who has a serious health condition; or
  4. a serious health condition of the employee that makes the employee unable to perform the essential functions of his or her position.

Military Family Leave Entitlements

Eligible employees with a spouse, son, daughter, or parent on active duty or called to active duty status in the National Guard or Reserves in support of a contingency operation may use their 12-week leave entitlement to address certain qualifying exigencies. Qualifying exigencies may include attending certain military events, arranging for alternative childcare, addressing certain financial and legal arrangements, attending certain counseling sessions, and attending post-deployment reintegration briefings.

FMLA also includes a special leave entitlement that permits eligible employees to take up to 26 weeks of leave to care for a covered service member during a single 12-month period. A covered service member is a current member of the Armed Forces, including a member of the National Guard or Reserves, who has a serious injury or illness incurred in the line of duty while on active duty that may render the service member medically unfit to perform his or her duties for which the service member is undergoing medical treatment, recuperation, or therapy; or is in outpatient status; or is on the temporary disability retired list.

Under certain conditions, FMLA may be taken intermittently, or employees may work under a reduced work schedule by taking family and medical leave for part of each workweek. An employee may elect to substitute other paid leave, as appropriate, for any of the 12 weeks of unpaid leave under the FMLA. Current law and regulations governing granting and using annual and sick leave (including advanced leave) apply.

An employee must provide notice of his or her intent to take family and medical leave not less than 30 days beforer leave is to begin, or in emergencies, as soon as is practicable. An agency may request medical certification for FMLA leave taken to care for an employee's spouse, son, daughter, or parent, who has a serious health condition or for the serious health condition of the employee. The standard Department of Labor forms are used for this purpose:

Upon return from FMLA leave, an employee must be returned to the same or equivalent position with equivalent benefits, pay, status, and other terms and conditions of employment. An employee who takes unpaid FMLA leave is entitled to maintain health benefits coverage, but must pay the employee share of the premiums upon return to duty.


The holidays recognized for all SAO employees are determined by the U.S. Office of Personnel Management in accordance with Federal policy:

  • New Year's Day, January 1
  • Martin Luther King's Birthday, third Monday in January
  • Washington's Birthday, third Monday in February
  • Memorial Day, last Monday in May
  • Juneteenth, June 19
  • Independence Day, July 4
  • Labor Day, first Monday in September
  • Columbus Day, second Monday in October
  • Veteran's Day, November 11
  • Thanksgiving Day, fourth Thursday in November
  • Christmas Day, December 25

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