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Leave (HR Links)

This page provides instructions for entering leave requests (also known as absence requests) in HR Links and information on the various types of leave.

You can also see your remaining leave balances in HR Links (shows up to the right while making a vacation request) and in your leave balance on your paystub in Employee Express.

You must be on the GSA wireless network or on the Windows virtual desktop (accessible through VMWare Horizon or Cisco AnyConnect) to log into HR Links. For instructions on accessing your virtual desktop through VMware Horizon, go here. For instructions on accessing your virtual desktop through Cisco AnyConnect, go here.

  1. Open your web browser (Safari is preferred for HR Links)
  2. Go to HR Links or find it under “Tools” on the InSite home page
  3. Click login icon (a new tab will open)
  4. Click on GSA and GSA CABS

Entering a leave request

  1. Click on the Employee Time tile
  2. Click Request Absence/OT
  3. Select Filter by Type: Annual Leave
  4. Select Absence Name: Annual Leave
  5. Enter Dates/Times
  6. Enter Comment
  7. Click submit

Note: When your leave request is approved, you’ll receive a “The absence request has been approved…” email

Modifying a leave request

It’s simple, but slightly counter-intuitive. Here’s how:

  1. Cancel the initial request you’re trying to edit.
  2. Edit the canceled request.
  3. Resubmit the canceled-and-edited request.


Employees must report to work or have leave approved every scheduled work day. Leave requests should be submitted to your supervisor in HR Links at least three business days in advance. Requests should be submitted for any duration of leave, as little as one hour.

Should an unforeseen emergency or illness arise requiring the use of leave not previously approved, contact your supervisor no later than two hours after the start of your typical work day to request permission for the absence. Unless other arrangements were made, requests for annual or sick leave must be made on each day of absence. Failure to properly request leave in accordance with this procedure may result in the denial of leave and a charge of absence without leave (AWOL), and may be the basis for disciplinary action. Absence without leave is an absence from duty that is not authorized or approved.

Leave checklist

Before taking leave, be sure to:

Returning from leave

Upon returning from leave, remember to:

Annual leave

An employee may use annual leave for vacations, rest and relaxation, and personal business or emergencies. Annual leave accrues based on how long you’ve worked for the government:

The maximum annual leave that can be carried over is 240 hours, and if you’ve transferred to TTS from another federal agency, your accrued annual leave will transfer with you. (It may take between two and four pay periods before Employee Express will display your accrued annual leave.) More information is available on OPM’s Pay and Leave website.

Sick leave

All federal employees, no matter how long they have worked, accrue four hours of sick leave per pay period. There is no maximum amount of sick leave you can accrue, and if you’ve transferred to TTS from another federal agency, your accrued sick leave will transfer with you. (It may take between two and four pay periods before Employee Express will display your accrued sick leave.) More information is available on OPM’s Pay and Leave website.

Funeral leave

Employees can take 3 days (24 hours) of funeral leave to plan or attend services of an immediate relative who has suffered a combat-related death. Additionally, veterans can take funeral leave to participate in a funeral ceremony for a member of the Armed Forces.

Employees can take up to 13 days (104 hours) per year of sick leave for bereavement, funeral planning, and/or attending the funeral of a family member.

Further funeral leave information can be found in OPM’s Fact Sheets:

Extended leave

Unpaid leave

Unpaid leave, also called Leave Without Pay (LWOP), is exactly what it sounds like. Employees can request unpaid leave of less than four weeks at any time. To take a leave of absence without pay, you’ll need justification, supervisory oversight, and, for longer terms, supervisory approval.

Parental leave

Parents can use any combination of sick leave, annual leave, and/or leave without pay for up to 12 weeks a year. Please note that leave without pay requires prior approval. Please contact for more information.

For more assistance with parental leave, reach out in the #parental-leave chanel

Family and Medical Leave Act

The Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) allows most federal employees to take up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave per 12-month period for: the birth or care of a child, an adoption or placement of child for foster care, the care of a spouse/son/daughter/parent with a serious health condition, a serious health condition of an employee, or a qualifying exigency from spouse, child or parent of an employee on covered active duty in the Armed Forces. An employee is entitled to taking FMLA when they have been an employee of the federal government for at least 12 months.

Former members of the military and/or a military service academy can receive credit for their time. They’ll need to fill out form FERS 3108. An employee who has transferred from another agency can use their time to count toward the 12-month restriction.

The Department of Labor has a detailed guide to FMLA, including this FMLA FAQ.

For complete details, see this recent guidance. For a human, readable summary:

Both parents may use their annual or sick leave after the birth of a child, for the period of the mother’s incapacitation. The length of the medically necessary leave is ultimately determined by a doctor’s note, but six weeks for a vaginal birth and eight weeks for a cesarean birth is common. After parents exhaust their annual and sick leave, they can run a sick leave deficit of up to the amount they will accrue during their tenure.

Employees may also apply for annual leave donations from other federal employees within their agency. Leave donations may only be used for a medically necessary leave period, as determined by the doctor’s note. Leave donations from federal employees outside GSA are considered on a case-by-case basis. Additionally, if spouses are both employed by the federal government, they may donate unlimited annual leave to each other, regardless of the agencies they work for. Leave donations can be used to backfill sick leave and annual leave deficits.

If you’d like TTS to send out an email notifying your colleagues about your request for donated leave, fill out this form. It’s editable, so when you return to work you can fill in an end date.

In addition to the paid leave described above, employees can take leave without pay (under the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA)) for up to 12 weeks per calendar year. Once you’ve been an employee of the federal government for at least 12 months, you’re eligible to take FMLA, provided your supervisor approves it. You can take this leave within one year of the birth of your child. You do not need to take it all at once. Employees are eligible to take intermittent leave within the first year of their child’s birth. For instance, you could take unpaid leave on Tuesdays and Thursdays for several weeks in a row.

Donating leave

Under the Voluntary Leave Transfer Program (VLTP), a covered employee may donate annual leave directly to another employee who has a personal or family medical emergency and who has exhausted their available paid leave.

To donate leave (this process is new as of 8/19/19):

  1. If you haven’t registered with, click Register Now at the top right of that homepage and follow these instructions to register your PIV card to enable login (or use the email option if you don’t yet have a PIV card reader), then:
  2. Go to, and
  3. Follow the system prompts.

If you have any questions, check the GSA IT Alert email sent 8/8/19 with the subject line “Aug. 19: New way to access VLTP” or contact Jim Mulvaney at

Also, don’t hesitate to ask in #parental-leave in Slack.

If the system is down, you can submit donation requests directly to Lakita Rivero.

Advanced leave

Advanced annual leave

An employee may only take advanced annual leave in the amount they will earn back by the end of the current leave year, and the advanced leave may not exceed 80 hours.

Please note: You may receive an exception in HRLinks that “temporary appointment employees cannot be advanced annual leave.” Policy allows the approval of advance leave for employees on limited appointments, but the amount of advance leave approved must not exceed the NTE or end of the leave year. The system will always give you an exception message when your leave balance is in the negative. When your supervisor goes into the system to approve your time, it is their responsibility to make a remark in the comment box noting their approval of advance leave.

Screenshot reflecting negative leave balance exception

You can find Leave Year beginning and end dates in this Office of Personnel Management (OPM) fact sheet.

Advanced sick leave

In cases of serious disability or ailment, and when the exigencies of the situation so require, an employee may take advanced sick leave in an amount not to exceed 30 work days (240 hours). This advance may be granted whether or not the employee has any annual leave to their credit except where an application for disability retirement has been submitted to the Office of Personnel Management.

For employees serving under a limited appointment (term appointments) or one which will be terminated on a specified date, they may be advanced sick leave up to the total amount of sick leave which would otherwise be earned during the term of that appointment.

Additional advanced leave resources

Court leave (including jury duty)

Religious observance

Adjusting work schedules for religious observances is handled differently than leave. If you need to miss regular work hours for religious observance, you should notify your supervisor in writing in advance of the time you’ll need to miss, along with the schedule of the time you will work outside of normal hours to compensate. For details, please see the relevant OPM policy.

Time tracking

18F employees taking planned leave should follow guidance to Tock when on leave. For unplanned leave such as sudden illness or family emergency, do what you can to contact your supervisor, and they can help manage the rest on your behalf.

HR Links is GSA’s out of office request system and is separate from Tock, which is TTS’s own timekeeping system. If you’re taking time off, you’ll need to make sure you’re accounted for in both systems.

For more information on leave, see the Benefits class and the GSA Tools and Equipment class.