DOD announces changes to the special leave accrual policy for service members

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The Department of Defense announced changes to the special leave accrual policy for service members Aug. 25. The DOD Instruction 1327.06, "Leave and Liberty Policy and Procedures," was reissued incorporating change five to implement the provisions of section 701 of title 10 United States Code (U.S.C.) that was revised by section 632 of the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) for Fiscal Year (FY) 2023.

A service member may retain a maximum of 60 days of annual leave from one FY to the next FY. However, a service member who is assigned to certain duties that prevent he or she from taking annual leave may be eligible for SLA which qualifies the service member to retain more than 60 days of leave at the end of the FY. 

The revised provisions of section 701 U.S.C. title 10 reduced the maximum amount of accrued leave that may be retained by a service member at the end of the FY from 120 days (60 days of annual leave plus 60 days of SLA leave) to 90 days (60 days of annual leave plus 30 days of SLA leave). Also, the timeframe a service member may retain SLA leave was shortened from three FYs to two FYs following the FY in which the SLA qualifying duty ended. Further, a duty assignment in support of a designated contingency operation by itself is no longer a qualifying duty for SLA. These changes went into effect on Jan. 1, 2023.

The revised provisions of the law made by the FY2023 NDAA do not negatively impact the unused SLA leave of service members who accumulated SLA leave due to the Coronavirus Disease 2019 or due to other reasons that occurred before FY2023. Service members may continue to use this SLA leave according to the timelines previously established by their Service. 

Beginning in FY2023, a service member in an SLA qualifying duty such as an assignment to a designated deployable ship may retain a maximum of 90 days of accrued leave (60 days annual leave and 30 days of SLA leave) at the end of the FY if he or she receives written approval to do so from the first flag or general officer in their chain of command. The service member's leave that is approved as SLA will be forfeited unless used before the end of the second FY following the FY in which the SLA qualifying duty ended. For example, SLA leave that is approved for FY2023 will be forfeited unless used by Sept. 30, 2025.

Service members who have approved SLA leave that caused their accrued leave balance to exceed 90 days as of Dec. 31, 2022, may continue to carry SLA leave that is in excess of 90 days; however, any SLA leave that exceeds 90 days on or before September 30, 2026, will be forfeited. No service member may be authorized additional SLA at the end of the FY2023 if their accrued leave balance exceeds 90 days.

Enlisted Service members who would lose accumulated SLA leave in excess of 90 days may elect to be paid for SLA leave up to 30 days. This election can only be taken once in a career. The sell back counts toward the enlisted service member's cap of 60 days over a career.

Service members are encouraged to review the "remarks" section of their Leave and Earning Statement to monitor their SLA leave balance and to determine the expiration date of their SLA leave to avoid forfeiting days of SLA leave.

The reissuance of DoD Instruction 1327.06 incorporating change can be found here.