Want time off? Get a job in government

Caroline May | Reporter

While the latest jobs numbers were better than expected, millions of Americans continue to look for work.

For the unemployed who are picky about paid time off, federal work just might be the way to go.

According to a recent analysis by the American Enterprise Institute (AEI), using the latest data from the Office of Personnel Management (OPM), in 2005 the average non-postal federal employee took 20.1 days of annual leave or 7.7 percent of base pay. Factor in compensation for unused leave and the total rises to 8.5 percent of direct pay.

By comparison, the average private sector employee received 4.9 percent of direct base pay for annual leave.

The time off does not stop there. AEI scholar Andrew Biggs, one of the authors of the analysis, noted in a blog post this week that federal employees who by chance get sick while on vacation have the ability to use sick days during their allotted vacation time.

“So let’s say you head down to Cabo for spring break, you eat some bad fruit and Montezuma gets his revenge,” Biggs postulated. “As a federal worker, it may be you who gets the last laugh since you can call in sick for that day. How many private sector jobs offer that kind of benefit?”

Overall, OPM reports that federal employees in 2005 took 9.4 sick days on average, or were paid 3.6 percent of their salary for no work. Corresponding pay for the average private sector employee, according to AEI, was 1.2 percent.

OPM declined to comment on the analysis.


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