Sick leave


Q. I resigned from the U.S. Postal Service 2.5 years ago. At the time I had over 2,500 hours of unused sick leave. My problem with the Post Office was that from day one we were told to bank your sick leave, which I did. I think it is very unfair not to benefit from saving all of those hours, which would have given me an extra boost to my retirement when I apply for it.

A. Employees who retire on an immediate annuity will have any hours of unused sick leave included when calculating their annuity. Employees who resign and later apply for a deferred annuity won’t. If you were to go back to work for the government, those sick leave hours would be restored and, when you were eligible to retire, be used in the computation of your annuity. 


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Reg Jones was head of retirement and insurance policy at the Office of Personnel Management. Email your retirement-related questions to


    • There isn’t any double standard. Annual leave is a paid leave employment benefit that you can use to take a vacation, rest and relaxation, personal business or emergencies. The amount you are entitled to each year depends on your years of service. There is a limit to how much annual leave you can carry from one year to the next. When you retire, any annual leave you have to your credit will be paid to you at the hourly rate your would have earned from the day you retire to the day that leave runs out.

      On the other hand, sick leave is for you to use if you are unable to perform the duties of your position due to mental or physical illness. injury, pregnancy or childbirth,or to receive medical, dental or optical exams or treatments, etc. The amount of sick leave you can earn in a year is the same no matter how long you work. If you are fortunate enough to have a healthy life, the amount you will have accumulated when you retire can be substantial. The reward for having worked all those extra hours is having them added to your length of service and, if there’s enough, used to increase the amount of your annuity.

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