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Earned Leave (EL)

Earned Leave, also known as Privilege Leave (PL) or Vacation Leave (VL), refers to paid time off that employees are entitled to annually based on their work tenure. Employees 'earn' these leaves in return for days worked during the year. Earned Leave is also sometimes termed as Annual Leave (AL) or Flexi Holiday by certain organizations.

Earned Leave or EL is one of the most important leave benefits for salaried employees in India. It allows employees paid time off from work to rejuvenate, pursue personal interests and attend to family responsibilities.

However, the EL policies and regulations differ widely depending on the type of employer – government or private sector. While government employees enjoy better EL benefits, private sector employees are often at the mercy of individual organizational policies.

This comprehensive guide provides complete information on EL for employees in India. Read on to gain clarity on how to maximize your EL entitlement and avoid any pitfalls.

What is Earned Leave?

Earned Leave (EL) refers to paid leave that employees are entitled to on completion of a year of continuous service. It is calculated at a specific rate for each month of service rendered by the employee.

EL is an important provision for salaried individuals in India as it allows them paid time off from work to recharge and attend to personal commitments. It is governed by specific rules and regulations based on the type of organization:

  • For government sector employees, EL is governed by Central Civil Services (Leave) Rules 1972.
  • For private sector employees, EL policies are defined by the organization’s HR policies and leave management rules.
  • Contractual workers are entitled to EL as per their contract terms.

EL goes by different names like Privilege Leave, Casual Leave etc. based on employer terminology. Essentially, it refers to the yearly paid leaves that employees can avail after completing 12 months of continuous service.

EL Eligibility and Entitlement

Employees across sectors in India are entitled to a defined number of Earned Leaves annually or per month of service. However, eligibility criteria like tenure, and permanent vs temporary status results in variances in EL across employee categories.

1. For government employees

  • All permanent central/state government employees are entitled to 30 days of EL annually or 2.5 days for every completed month of service.
  • EL gets credited to the employee’s account at the beginning of the year. Any unused leaves can be carried forward for up to 300 days.
  • Temporary government workers are eligible for EL on a pro-rata basis as per the tenure of the contract.

2. For private sector employees

  • Most private companies offer 12-30 days of EL per annum depending on the organization’s leave policy.
  • EL eligibility and calculation methods may differ. Some organizations offer 2.5 days leave for every month completed while others offer a fixed number of days annually.
  • Contractual and temporary workers earn pro-rata EL based on months completed.

3. For contractual employees

  • Contract workers in the government and private sector earn EL as per agreed contractual terms.
  • Usually, they are eligible for 1 EL per completed month of service. Some contracts may exclude EL benefits.
  • Unused EL lapses at the end of a contract or gets enchased as per policy.

Rules for Availing and Accumulating EL

The rules and policies for availing and accumulating Earned Leave differ across government, public sector, and private organizations in India. Understanding the norms on leave encashment, carry-forwards, and lapsing is crucial to optimize your EL benefits.

Carry forward rules

  • For government employees – Unused EL lapsable leaves can be carried forward up to 300 days for central government employees. For state government employees, the limit is 180 days.
  • For the private sector – Most companies allow the carry forward of lapsed ELs up to a limit of 30-60 days. Some may allow accumulation upto 120 days.
  • Lapse leaves cannot be claimed after the end of service tenure.

Encashment rules

  • Central government employees can encash EL after superannuation or retirement for up to 300 days. For non-gazetted staff, it is limited to 120 days.
  • For the private sector, encashment is at the company’s discretion. Some allow full encash while others cap it at 30 days of basic pay.
  • Contractual workers get limited EL encashment as per the contract.
  • On resignation/termination, private sector employees may not get full EL encashment.

How to Apply for EL

Though Earned Leave is an employee right, there are formal processes to be followed to apply for and obtain sanctioning of leaves. From documentation to approval authority, ensure you comply with your organization’s protocols for effortless EL approval.

Application process

  • In government sectors, employees must submit EL applications in a prescribed format to his/her controlling officer and department head.
  • In private companies, employees apply online on the HR portal or email the manager. Some require applications to be recommended by a supervisor.
  • Advance notice of at least 7 days is ideal before taking EL in all organizations.
  • For planned longer EL, apply at least 1 month in advance. Emergency leaves can be applied right away.

Documents required

  • No documents are required for a short EL of 2-3 days.
  • For longer ELs of over 5 days, some organizations may require travel tickets, medical certificates etc.
  • If prefixing/suffixing with other leaves, relevant documents are needed.

Leave sanctioning authority

  • For government employees, the department head is the sanctioning authority.
  • In private companies, leaves are sanctioned by HR based on manager approval.
  • The sanctioning process can take 3-7 working days based on organization.

EL During Notice Period and on Resignation

Resigning from a job? Understand your organization’s policies around Earned Leave application and encashment during the notice period. Rules for government staff vary from private sector employees when it comes to leaves on resignation.

EL rules during the notice period

  • Employees cannot take EL/PL during the notice period without employer consent.
  • Any leaves taken must be adjusted against the notice period.
  • Most companies disallow planned ELs/vacations after resignation.

Encashment of EL on resignation

  • Central govt. employees get full EL encashment on resignation after 5+ years of service.
  • For private employers, resigning employees may lose lapsed EL. Some companies provide limited encashment.
  • Contract workers do not get EL encashment unless the contract specifically permits.

Carryover and Expiry in Earned Leave

Earned Leave allows employees a buffer to carry forward any unused leaves to the next year as per company policy. For instance, government staff can accumulate lapsed EL up to 300 days while private sector carryover is usually 30-60 days. However, the carried-over EL has limited validity and expires after the set threshold.

So if a government employee does not use their accumulated 300 days of lapsed EL, those leaves expire and cannot be claimed. Similarly, in private jobs, uncashed previous year’s leaves expire after a set period, say 1 year. Contractual staff also lose any unclaimed EL at the end of their tenure.

Therefore, employees should avail their carried-over EL balances judiciously each year, before expiry. Though carryover provides some space to plan leaves, companies set limits to ensure optimal utilization of available EL within reasonable timeframes.

Key Differences Between Casual and Earned Leaves

Casual leaves and earned leaves are two of the most common leave types granted to employees in India. While both provide paid time off from work, there are some key differences between casual and earned leaves:

Calculation and Entitlement

  • Casual Leaves: Calculated on a calendar year basis. Employees get 8-12 days of casual leave annually.
  • Earned Leaves: Calculated on completed months of service. Employees get 12-30 days of earned leave yearly.


  • Casual Leaves: Meant for shortleaves of 2-3 days for routine needs like doctor visits, family functions etc.
  • Earned Leaves: Meant for longer leaves of 5+ days for vacation, travel, and family emergencies. Allows longer breaks from work.

Carry Forward

  • Casual Leaves: Lapsed casual leaves cannot be carried forward to the next year in most companies.
  • Earned Leaves: Unused earned leaves can be accumulated and carried forward up to a limit as per company policy.


  • Casual Leaves: Cannot be encashed in most organizations. Lapses at year-end.
  • Earned Leaves: This can be encashed when an employee resigns or retires as per company policy.

Combining with other Leaves

  • Casual Leaves: These can be combined with sick leaves but usually not with earned leaves.
  • Earned Leaves: Can be combined with sick, casual, and privilege leaves as per policy.

In summary, casual leaves offer short-term flexibility while earned leaves allow longer breaks and greater accumulation of benefits for employees.

Key Takeaway

Earned leave is an annual paid benefit that replenishes employees from work fatigue and motivates them. Both employers and employees must follow EL policies in good spirits, balancing organizational needs with employee welfare.

Employees should apply for EL judiciously based on their personal needs as well as work cycles. They should clarify all their doubts to avoid issues later. Employers too must take a fair stance, providing leave when eligible while ensuring business continuity.

With this comprehensive guide on EL, Indian employees should now be empowered to make the most of their rightful EL benefits. Remember to verify your company’s specific EL policies and adhere to the processes outlined above for smooth planning and availability of leaves.

FAQs on Earned Leave

Do we get salary for earned leave?

Yes, earned leave is paid leave so employees receive full salary for the days of EL availed.

What happens to lapsed ELs?

Unused ELs that lapse can be accumulated and carried forward up to a limit based on company policy. Once the limit crosses, the lapsed EL expires.

Can EL be denied?

EL cannot be denied if the employee has sufficient balance. However, organizations may defer based on business needs.

How many days of earned leave?

Private sector employees get 12-30 EL days annually. For govt employees, it is 30 days per year.

Can CL and EL be combined?

Yes, Earned Leaves can be clubbed with Casual Leaves as per organizational policies.

What is the rule of earned leave?

Key rules are calculation based on tenure, accumulation limits, need for application within notice period, encashment on resignation etc.

How is earned leave calculated?

It is calculated based on number of years of service. Typically ranging from 1-2.5 days per month.

How do I claim earned leave?

Apply through official channels like the HR portal, supervisor approval, filling forms etc. as per company policy.

Can earned leave be refused?

Organizations can defer or restrict leaves depending on work needs but cannot reject if an employee has a balance.

Is earned leave compulsory?

Availing of EL is not compulsory. However, organizations expect employees to use their EL annually.

What is the minimum earned leave?

The minimum annual EL across sectors is 12 days. Maximum can go up to 30 days.

Is Sunday counted in earned leave?

Weekly offs and public holidays falling during the EL period are counted as part of EL.

How many El can be taken at a time?

Most companies allow upto 10-12 ELs at one go. Some may permit longer EL of 15+ days.

Can I take one day earned leave?

Yes, earned leaves can be taken for a single day for personal needs.

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