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Federal Government Employees and Volunteer Activities

Mon, Aug 3, 2015

Washington, District Of Columbia

CUNA Compliance Blog



Q: Many of the members of our federal credit union’s board are employed by a federal agency (our federal credit union has an SEG affiliation with the agency), and would like to use administrative leave rather than using vacation leave to attend board meetings.  Is this allowed?  Are there any federal government resources available that provide guidelines on taking leave for volunteer activities?

A:  It depends. This decision is ultimately left to each federal agency/department to determine.  Guidance issued by the U.S. Office of Personnel Management (OPM) suggests that administrative leave may be granted by as long as it is not prohibited by law and satisfies at least one of the following criteria:

  • the absence is directly related to the department or agency's mission;
  • the absence is officially sponsored or sanctioned by the head of the department or agency; 
  • the absence will clearly enhance the professional development or skills of the employee in his or her current position; or 
  • the absence is brief and is determined to be in the interest of the agency.

OPM also advises that agencies should review their internal guidance on administrative leave and any applicable collective bargaining agreements.

For more information, please review OPM’s fact sheets on administrative leave and volunteer activities:

Fact Sheet: Administrative Leave

Fact Sheet: Guidance on Scheduling Work and Granting Time Off to Permit Federal Employees to Participate in Volunteer Activities.

The Comptroller General has issued many decisions acknowledging that agencies have the authority to grant administrative leave, unless prohibited by law.  In 1984, the Comptroller General issued a decision pertaining to federal employees providing advice and support to federal credit unions.  In that opinion, it made clear that grants of administrative leave are usually for short periods of time (hours and not days) – and concluded that federal agencies may grant administrative leave to its employees “to render limited advice and support to federal credit unions, and that it is within the agency’s discretion to specify the types of acts for which administrative leave may be granted.”

To read the 1984 opinion letter from the Comptroller General of the United States on the issue of administrative leave and federal employees providing advice and support to federal credit unions, please click here

Keep in mind that we are making the assumption that the official of the federal credit union is not compensated. Please consult the bylaws of your federal credit union for the one official (position) that may receive compensation for performing duties or responsibilities for which they have been elected.