No More Banking 120 Days of Leave: The Navy Is Beginning to Rein In Those COVID-Era Rules

Amphibious assault ship USS Makin Island
Quartermaster Seaman Camden Wills unties rope to hoist a flag aboard amphibious assault ship USS Makin Island, Dec. 5, 2022. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Nadia Lund)

The Navy is changing the COVID-19-era policy that allowed sailors to bank up to 120 days of leave, according to an administrative message.

"Service members will lose any [special leave] in excess of 90 days ... on Sept. 30, 2023," said the message, released last Thursday. A Navy spokeswoman also confirmed this to in an email.

In April 2020, the Navy started letting sailors accumulate up to 120 days of leave -- as opposed to the usual 60 -- because the COVID-19 pandemic made travel nearly impossible.

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Lt. Sarah Niles, a spokeswoman for the Chief of Naval Personnel, said that sailors whose leave balance was more than 90 days at the end of 2022, however, would keep those days "through the current expiration date or no later than Sept. 30, 2026."

Niles added that the changes "were mandated by law and are in line with DoD policy updates."

The message noted that the revision in how many days sailors may bank is "the most impactful of the upcoming changes," but the Navy is planning on making other alterations to the special leave policy in the future.

One change the message previews is being able to hold on to special leave for two years instead of three, and that the first flag officer in a sailor's chain of command will need to approve special leave being given out in most cases going forward.

The message stressed that it is intended as a heads-up to give sailors time to use the leave they have earned and that "unit commanders should continue to minimize the loss of leave within the constraints of operational requirements."

Typically, all active-duty service members earn 30 days of leave per year and, while some of that time is allowed to roll over year-to-year, any unused leave over 60 days is normally lost every year.

-- Konstantin Toropin can be reached at Follow him on Twitter @ktoropin.

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