Rules Corner – Annual Leave vs. Sick Leave

Full-time state employees and designated positions are eligible for leave benefits. It is important to understand when to use each type of leave and the stipulations in place. For both types of leave, management may not require employees to maintain a minimum balance of accrued leave. However, management may separate an employee from employment after 18 weeks of cumulative leave are used within 24 months, regardless of paid leave status, unless prohibited by state or federal law.

DHRM Rule R477-7-3 states, “an employee may not use annual leave without advanced approval by management.” Employees can use this type of leave for any situation, but prior approval is required. The number of annual leave hours accrued is based on years of service. Employees shall only accrue up to 320 hours of annual leave – Any additional hours will be forfeited at the end of the fiscal year.

Government Operations – Human Resource Management R477-4 outlines sick leave rules. Unlike annual leave, there is no balance limit for sick leave hours; however, accrual shall not exceed 4 hours per pay period. Employees must “contact management prior to the beginning of their scheduled workday if the employee will be absent due to illness or injury.” If an employee takes sick leave for three or more consecutive days, management may ask for acceptable documentation or validation to support the absence. Management may approve sick leave requests for:  

  • Preventative health and dental care
  • Maternity
  • Paternity
  • Adoption care
  • Absence from duty because of illness, injury, or disability of
    • Employee, spouse, children, parents, an individual for who the employee is a legal guardian
  • Qualifying FMLA purposes & medical emergencies

If there is reason to believe an employee is using sick leave for reasons not listed above, management may require documentation (i.e. a doctor’s note) to validate the absence.  

Each agency has different requirements for requesting time off. Check with your supervisor or HR representative for agency specifics.