Annual leave decision out of employee's hands


Q. I am in the Senior Executive Service and am eligible to retire in March. I will have over 700 hours of accumulated annual leave at that time.  Is there a straightforward way of calculating whether it makes more sense to take a lump-sum payment in March or remain in the government and take several months of annual leave before resigning. In addition to extending my time in service by a few months, are there other factors I should consider when deciding which course to take?

A. You start with the assumption that you have a choice about whether to retire and take a lump-sum payment for your unused annual leave or take annual leave and stay on the rolls until the leave runs out. Well, you don’t. The government makes no provision for what in the military is called terminal leave. Further, your agency would be daft to allow you to occupy a position unproductively for that length of time. If they need that position, they’d want to fill it as soon as possible. If they don’t need it, they’d want to abolish it as soon as possible.


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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

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