Federal Employee Benefits

Federal Employee Benefits
Last Updated: November 13, 2023

Federal employee benefits are compensation packages ​provided to employees who work under or in an agency of the United States government in addition to their regular salary or wages. This extra compensation does not come in wage form. Employee benefits can come as medical insurance plans, post-retirement plans, paid days for vacation, and life insurance.

Whether or not you are considered for federal employee benefits depends on the nature of the work in question. It is also influenced by whether or not you are on a contract basis. Employees under the agencies of the United States Government are entitled to a range of benefits as a way to increase job satisfaction and also to be able to balance work and family obligations in the case of holidays and vacation days.

Some agencies under the US Government might modify their salaries and benefits packages to compete with other employers. This is because the competition is quite stiff.

A 2018 federal employee viewpoint survey indicated that employees responded negatively to pay, resources, and empowerment. This indicates that there are improvement gaps federal agents can target. Find a list of the most common federal employee benefits compiled below.

 Related: Benefits Enrollment: What you need to know

Most federal employees are entitled to eleven paid holiday days as part of their federal employee benefits. Holiday premium pay equals their regular rate of pay plus 200% for federal workers who work on a holiday. If you are originally paid $30 per day and work on a holiday, you will be paid $90. Employees can take time off to enjoy holidays, and financial incentives are availed for people to work on holidays. The eleven paid holidays are listed below in their order of occurrence.

  1. New Year's Day (January 1)
  2. Martin Luther King Junior Day (Third Monday in January)
  3. Washington's Birthday (Third Monday in February)
  4. Memorial Day (Last Monday in May)
  5. Juneteenth National Independence Day (June 9)
  6. National Independence Day (July 4)
  7. Labour Day (First Monday in September)
  8. Columbus Day (Second Monday in October)
  9. Veterans Day (November 11)
  10. Thanks, Giving Day (Fourth Thursday in November)
  11. Christmas Day (December 25)

Federal employees in Washington, DC, also get an extra holiday on top of the eleven paid holidays courtesy of inauguration day. The holiday is normally celebrated on January 20 after a new president is selected. This means that ever since the first presidential election back in 1965, this holiday is only observed every fourth year following a Presidential election. The holiday also only speaks to federal employees scheduled to work on Inauguration Day in the "Inauguration Day Area."

The inauguration day area is clearly defined for clarity at the convenience of federal employees. The following areas fall under the inauguration day area:

  • District of Columbia
  • Montgomery County
  • Prince George's County
  • Maryland counties
  • Arlington
  • Fairfax Virginia counties
  • cities of Alexandria,
  • Falls Church, and
  • Fairfax.

Employees not scheduled to work on Inauguration Day in the Inauguration Day Area will not receive the holiday. When Inauguration Day falls on a non-working day, the holiday is not considered.

Other employees scheduled to telework outside of the Inauguration Day Area on Inauguration Day will not receive this holiday as part of their federal employee benefits package. This means that even though their formal workplaces are in the Inauguration Day area, they are not eligible for this holiday.

This is because the holiday was passed to reduce traffic in the area where the inauguration takes place. Passing it to employees who have been scheduled to work elsewhere would therefore be of no use. Employees of this type are expected to work at their temporary duty location outside the Inauguration Day Area.

Related: Military Discounts: Everything You Need to Know

Federal Employee Benefits

Related: 13 Reasons why Every Employee Needs Paid Time Off



As part of federal employee benefits, employees under US Government agencies have access to thirteen paid vacation days each year. The amount of paid vacation days is related to the employee's length of service. This means that paid vacation days rise as service length increases. Employees can only carry over 30 vacation days into the next year. The table below illustrates the length of service ranges and the related paid vacation days.

Length of Service

Number of Paid Vacation Days

3 years and below

13 days

3-15 years


16-20 years


21-30 years




41+ years

23 days

Related: FMLA Leave: A Complete Guide

Extra Vacation Days

United States Government Agencies employees are entitled to 1.5 hours of vacation time for every overtime hour worked. ​Overtime pay instead of compensatory hours is also an option for federal employees. Overtime hours done by federal employees are compensated at one and one-half times their usual pay rate. A government employee's typical work week is 40 hours; thus, anything above that is compensated for. The number of vacation days available to federal employees is a key perk. It allows employees to take time off to relax and rejuvenate without worrying about work piling up.

Career Development Opportunities

Part of federal employee benefits is a wide range of opportunities for career development. Training and professional development resources are critical to all employees. The Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) agency provides a variety of professional courses, a career management program, fellows and graduate programs, tuition aid, a mentorship program, and possibilities for skill development through short-term postings to different jobs.

The Training and Executive Development Group of the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) creates policies to ensure that the United States Government's employee learning and development programs support strategic human capital investments in Leadership, Knowledge, and Talent Management.

The Office of Personnel Management (OPM) helps by building policy frameworks and flexibilities to establish Government-wide mechanisms to support effective learning and development programs in agencies, notably leadership development programs for managers and executives.

Sick Leave

Federal employees also get 13 days of paid sick leave per year as part of their compensation package. This applies to everyone employed under US Government agencies regardless of how long you have served. The 13 days of paid sick leave cover the care of sick family members, personal medical needs, and the birth or adoption of a child. Federal employees are allowed to carry over sick leave days from year to year but only up to a maximum of 30 days and are not taxed at the federal level.

Related: 11 Reasons why Employees Fake Sick Leave

Alternative Work Schedules

One of the federal employee benefits is that the government provides two alternate work schedules to assist employees in balancing their job and personal duties. Flexible and compressed work schedules are the two primary types of alternative work schedules.

  • Flexible Work Schedules enable employees to create their schedule as long as they work 40 hours weekly. Employees are needed to work during normal business hours (10 a.m. to 3 p.m.). Work may be done at any time between 7 a.m. and 10 p.m.
  • Compressed work schedules allow you to work 40 hours a week but not necessarily over five days. Employees on compressed schedules typically work nine-hour days and get a three-day weekend every other week. Some organizations may allow 10-hour days, resulting in four days of labor each week.

Health Care Benefits

Federal employees can choose between about 200 health insurance programs. Federal employees can choose suitable programs through the Federal Employees Health Benefits Program.

Requirements to enrol in one of these federal health plans are minimal, and there is no waiting period. There are also no age or physical condition limits for insurance programs. The federal program also provides guaranteed protection against health plan cancellations. Most healthcare costs are covered by federal agencies, which typically range between 70% and 75%.

Repayment of Federal Student Loans

Agencies participating in the Federal Loan Repayment Program may provide up to $60,000 in student loan repayment assistance as part of their federal employee benefits. Employees must work for that agency for at least three years in exchange.

All 15 Cabinet-level departments support the program and more than 20 independent agencies. Many agencies specify which degrees are eligible for the student loan program, adjusting their recruitment strategies to attract highly qualified people for difficult-to-fill positions. Federal Family Loans and Direct PLUS loans are the most frequently repayable college loans.

Related: Federal Employee Loans: A Guide

Benefits of Retirement

The Federal Employees Retirement System (FERS) is a comprehensive retirement benefits package the government provides its employees. The scheme contains three separate retirement contributions, as outlined below.

Basic Benefit Plan

Employees contribute little to the Basic Benefit Plan each pay period, and their employer contributes 1% of their yearly salary. This plan also extends to immediate family. To access these benefits under the Basic Benefit Plan, employees must have worked for the government for at least five years.

Thrift Savings Scheme

The Thrift Savings Plan has similar benefits to a regular 401k plan. Whether or not an employee contributes, agencies contribute 1% of their compensation. Agencies will also match a portion of employees' contributions up to 5% of their salaries each pay cycle.

Social Security benefits

Social Security pays compensation to persons who are retired, unemployed, or disabled and includes disability and survivor protection. Federal employees pay Social Security taxes and accumulate Social Security account credits. As per the Social Security Administration (SSA), 1.7 million federal retirees and their families were getting Social Security benefits.

There are a variety of federal employee benefits that help employees to save up their salaries. Federal employee benefits can assist employees in sustaining a healthy life, saving for retirement, and taking time off to rejuvenate. Federal employees also get help in furthering their careers and learning new skills. A Federal Employee Viewpoint Survey (FEVS) survey ​indicated that 83% of federal employees believe that learning and development opportunities are important to their job performance.

Cindy Baker
Tiffany Maruva
I am a Strategy and Performance Consultant at Industrial Psychology Consultants. I hold a Bachelor's Degree in Business and Computer Science. Key skills acquired include client management, Canva, HR Analytics, Article Writing, Proposal Writing, and Software Demonstrations. Proficient in using Zoom and Microsoft 365 (Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Outlook, and Teams). I have basic knowledge of Bill Quick and Trello. I aspire to become a project manager one day. I intend to further my education in this direction in order to realize my aspirations in the near future. After a hectic week of emails, I bake during the weekend or make a special meal. Socially, I am an extrovert with a dream to be a global citizen one day.

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