Skip Navigation

Your Environment. Your Health.

Vacation and Holiday

Fellows' Career Development

Vacation and Holiday

Fellows' Career Development

Family roasting marshmellows

(Source: NIH Office of Intramural Training & Education Handbooks)

Vacation, Sick Leave, and Family Leave for Trainees

Man in canoe

Trainees (IRTAs and Visiting Fellows) do not accrue annual or sick leave in the same manner as federal employees. However, they are excused for Federal holidays, illness, personal emergencies, and vacations when their training periods are longer than 90 days. For vacations, trainees receive a minimum of 2 weeks per year of excused absence. The number of days should be prorated for appointments of less than a year.

Eight weeks of excused absence with pay will be granted to either parent for the birth or adoption of a child or other family health care for IRTA/CRTA and Visiting Fellows. Different rules and regulations govern the amount of leave afford to research fellows and other full time employees. In addition, absences must be excused to accommodate a trainee's military obligations, e.g., active duty, active duty training, and inactive duty training not to exceed 6 weeks per year with pay.

Preceptors may exercise discretion in granting additional short absences (less than a week per year) as they deem appropriate. More extended absences must be approved by the IC Scientific Director. For more information about trainee vacation policies please visit sections Y and Z of chapter 2300-320-7 of the NIH Policy Manual.

Vacation, Sick Leave, and Family Leave for Employees

The regulations and policies governing the various leave programs available to civilian employees of the NIH can found in the NIH Leave Guide for Civilian Employees. A brief summary of the main points can be found on page 27 of the NIH Postdoc Handbook 2012.

NIH trainees who are appointed as employees (Research Fellows and Clinical Fellows) accrue both sick and annual (vacation) leave. The rate at which annual leave is accrued is a function of the length of time in Federal service (including the military).

Individuals who have been employed by the Federal government for less than 3 years earn annual leave at a rate of 4 hours per pay period or 13 days per year. Employees with more than 3 but less than 15 years of service earn 6 hours per pay period or 19.5-days per year. After 15 years of service, annual leave is accrued at the rate of 8 hours per pay period. All employees earn sick leave at a rate of 4 hours per pay period. This information applies to individuals working a 40-hour week. Part-time employees accrue leave on a prorated basis.

Annual leave allows employees time off for vacations, personal reasons, and emergencies. Sick leave can be used when an employee is incapacitated or contagious; for employee or family member medical, dental, or optical examinations; to care for a family member; or to arrange or attend a funeral. For a complete listing of allowed uses of sick leave and definitions of terms such as "family member," please see the NIH Leave Guide.

A maximum of 240 hours of annual leave may be carried over from one year to another. Leave in excess of this amount is termed "use or lose"; such leave is forfeited if it is not used by the end of the calendar year. In some instances an employee may be granted advance annual leave. This will not exceed the amount of leave the employee is expected to earn prior to the end of the appointment or the end of the calendar year, whichever comes first. It is also possible to request advance sick leave.

You should use the ITAS system to request approval from your Leave Approving Official, generally your supervisor, in advance, for use of annual leave and sick leave to cover appointments. Emergency sick leave should be requested, when possible, within an hour of the time at which you were expected to begin work.

The Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) of 1993 provides up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave for one or more of the following reasons: birth of a child, adoption or taking on a foster child, care of a family member with a serious health condition, or a serious health condition that prevents the employee from performing the functions of his/her position. Note that annual and/or sick leave can also be used for these purposes. The Federal Employees' Family Friendly Leave Act (FFLA) entitles an employee to use up to 104 hours of sick leave per year to care for family members experiencing an illness, injury, or other condition (pregnancy, childbirth, medical exam) that would be covered by sick leave were the employee experiencing it or for purposes relating to the death of a family member.

Employees can also use up to 24 hours of leave without pay per year to participate in school activities such as parent teacher conferences or to accompany a child or elderly relative to routine medical or dental appointments. Employees are entitled to meet the requirements of their religious beliefs without taking leave. They will be expected to make up this time by performing approved overtime work either before or after the religious observance. Other categories of leave include Military Leave, Court Leave, and leave for volunteer activities.