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NOAA Workforce Management Office

Serving NOAA's Most Valuable Asset - People

Effects of Leave Without Pay (LWOP)

LWOP-Definition: LWOP is a temporary nonpay and nonduty status (or absence from a prescheduled tour of duty) granted at the employee's request.

Documentation: All requests for LWOP must be requested and approved on an OPM-71 (formerly SF-71), Application for Leave form. In addition, an SF-52, Request for Personnel Action, must be processed and an SF-50B, Notification of Personnel Action, issued if the LWOP is in excess of 30 calendar days. The effective date of the personnel action is the first day of LWOP.

Health Benefits: An employee enrolled in a health benefits plan can continue coverage for one year if he/she pays the employee share of the premium. Payment can be made during the period of nonpay status by submitting a check to the Benefits Services Office, or upon return to duty. Coverage will be terminated if LWOP exceeds 365 days.

Life Insurance: An employee with FEGLI coverage can continue it for 12 months in nonpay status. The employee pays no premium. Coverage will be terminated if LWOP exceeds 365 days.

Service Computation Date (SCD) for CSRS, CSRS OFFSET, FERS, RIF and Leave: Service credit does not change for retirement, RIF or leave accrual purposes unless LWOP exceeds 6 months in a calendar year. Then the employee's SCD is adjusted by the amount of nonpay time in excess of the 6 months. The excess time is added to the employee's SCD.

Thrift Savings Plan (TSP): If an employee has requested a percentage contribution, the amount withheld will be a percentage of the actual gross salary earned in the pay period. If no work is performed, then no contribution will be made. If an actual dollar amount has been allotted, the NFC system will take the dollar amount if enough income has been generated. Remember that taxes, child-support court orders, garnishments for education or taxes and other mandatory deductions are higher priority.

Federal Employee Dental and Vision Insurance Program (FEDVIP): When pay is insufficient for deductions of premiums, BENEFEDS will make two consecutive attempts to deduct the premiums. If unsuccessful, BENEFEDS will bill the enrollee directly. Employees paying premiums through this direct billing are not eligible for premium conversion because premiums are paid with post-tax dollars.

Flexible Spending Account (FSA): FSA allotments are not withheld while on LWOP. Employees are responsible for notifying FSA when they go on LWOP or other non-pay status and when they return to pay status. If an account is not pre-paid prior to LWOP, the account will be frozen and the employee will not be eligible for reimbursements of any healthcare expenses incurred until the Benefit period ends or the employee returns to pay status and begins to make payments. See FSAFEDS for more information.

Long Term Care (LTC): During LWOP, LTC will direct bill an employee for non-receipt of premiums that cannot be deducted from an employee’s biweekly salary. They will not make adjustments to the employee’s current payroll deductions to make up for missed premiums. For more information please see

Probationary Period (Initial Appointment or Supervisory/Managerial): Any nonpay time in excess of 22 workdays extends the probationary period by that number of days.

Career Tenure: Any nonpay time in excess of 30 calendar days extends the service date for career tenure by that number of days. This applies to each period of absence.

Leave: If a full-time employee is in nonpay status for an entire pay period, no annual or sick leave is accrued for that pay period. If nonpay time occurs during part of one or more pay periods, the employee continues to earn leave until the nonpay time totals 80 hours. Part-time employees accrue leave based on the actual hours worked during the pay period.

Within-Grade Increases (General Schedule): The waiting period and allowable LWOP time before delaying Within-Grade Increases are as follows:

Excess LWOP beyond these limitations will extend the within-grade increase. For example, if the employee is in a 2 year waiting period and has 161 to 239 hours of LWOP, the within-grade will be extended one pay period. If the employee has 240 to 319 hours of LWOP, the within-grade will be extended two pay periods.

Within Grade Increases (Federal Wage System): The waiting period and allowable LWOP time before delaying Within Grade Increases are as follows:

Page last edited: March 13, 2018

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