The following is a question submitted by a Federal Times readers about retirement and other issues facing the federal workforce. It is answered by Reg Jones, a charter member of the senior executive service and a Federal Times columnist since 1995.
Question: I retired on 1 Jan 22 after 46 years of Army civilian service. (1 Jan 22 was the last day of the leave year for 2021.) At the time of retirement I had a restored leave balance with an expiration date of 1 Jan 2022 and also a use or lose balance of annual leave. When I finally received my lump sum payout in May 2022 I discovered that I was denied lump sum payment for the restored leave. After inquiring as to why, I was informed the that the restored leave expired at 12:00 am the morning of 1 Jan 22 and thus no payout was allowed. Since OPM policy states that restored annual leave must be scheduled and used no later than the END of the leave year (1 Jan 22 in this case) ending 2 years after restoration, I deduced that the expiration time/date was the END of the leave year.( the logic being If the leave expires at 12:00 am the morning of 1 Jan 22, it precludes the employee from using the restored leave on the final day, and before the end of the leave year as per OPM Policy), and thus I should have received the restored leave lump sum payout. And even my logic is wrong on that, I maintain that since I retired effective 1200 am the morning of of 1 Jan 22 (and before the purported expiration time), I still should be entitled to the restored leave lump sum payout. Am I correct?
Reg’s Response: An employee must schedule and use restored annual leave not later than the end of the leave year ending 2 years after:
— the date of restoration of the annual leave forfeited because of administrative error;
— the date fixed by the head of the agency or designee as the date of termination of the exigency of the public business; or
— the date the employee is determined to be recovered from illness or injury and able to return to duty.
I suggest you show this to your agency and ask them to check with OPM to see if there’s a valid reason for their setting 12:00AM on the morning of January 1, 2022, as the cut-off date.
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Reg Jones is the resident expert on retirement and the federal government at Federal Times. From 1979 until 1995, he served as an assistant director of the U.S. Office of Personnel Management handling recruiting and examining, white and blue collar pay, retirement, insurance and other issues. From 1977 to 1979, he was deputy director of the Bureau of Policies and Standards in the U.S. Civil Service Commission. The opinions expressed are his own.