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Letter to Senator Maybank on Vacation Leave Privileges of Federal Employees.

April 25, 1952

[Released April 25, 1952. Dated April 24, 1952 ]

Dear Senator Maybank:

I am writing to urge your careful attention to a matter of great importance to the proper management of the Government and to the welfare of our many hard working Federal employees. This matter relates to the bill before your Subcommittee on Independent Offices Appropriations, which would have the effect of prohibiting accumulations of annual leave by reinstating a provision in the statutes which was expressly repealed no longer ago than October 30 of last year.

After extensive hearings and careful study of the subject of annual leave, the Congress enacted a new leave program expertly designed to meet the needs of the Federal Service. This Act, the Annual and Sick Leave Act of 1951, provided for a graduated system of leave based upon length of service. Although the statute reduced the total amount of leave earned per year by most Federal employees to thirteen days or twenty days, depending on length of service, it was accepted as a fair and reasonable approach to the leave problem. This acceptance was based partially at least on the fact that as part and parcel of this system, arbitrary restrictions upon the accumulation of leave up to the sixty-day maximum were removed.

It strikes me as particularly unfair to Federal employees and to those who were heard in Congress on their behalf, to remove the accumulation privilege and thus deprive these employees of their fair consideration for the cutback in the amount of leave earned. Unfortunately, however, that is the effect of a provision in the Independent Offices Appropriations Act of 1953 enacted by the House of Representatives on March 21, 1952. Moreover, the effect of this provision is especially harsh inasmuch as the accumulation of annual leave is the only cushion the Federal employee has at the present time against unemployment. Until some form of severance pay or unemployment compensation similar to that required by Federal law for private employees is provided for Federal workers, the only protection against the hardships of unemployment which they can rely on is whatever amount of annual leave they are able to save.

furthermore, I am convinced that a careful study of the long-range effect of this provision would indicate that it would increase cost to the Government because it would complicate emergency recruiting and would result in amounts of overtime at premium rates.

Inasmuch as I know of your long-standing concern for a healthy and economical Federal establishment based upon fair standards, I am taking this opportunity to urge upon you the advisability of removing this unfair provision from the bill under consideration.

Very sincerely yours,


[Honorable Burner R. Maybank, United States Senate, Washington, D.C.]

Note: Senator Maybank was Chairman of the Subcommittee on Independent Offices Appropriations of the Senate Committee on Banking and Currency.

For the President's statement upon signing the Independent Offices Appropriation Act of 1953, see Item 201.

The Annual and Sick Leave Act of 1951 was approved on October 30, 1951 (65 Stat. 679).

Harry S. Truman, Letter to Senator Maybank on Vacation Leave Privileges of Federal Employees. Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/node/230583

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