Ask The Experts: Retirement

By Reg Jones

Maximum leave carryover

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Q. I am a federal employee now working stateside but have worked overseas where my maximum annual leave carryover amount was 360 hours. My local human resources officer and comptroller are telling me that any time I drop below 360 hours of annual leave on the books, within a given leave year, my new maximum leave carryover amount will be the lower amount that I have on the books (which is below 360 hours).

But some employee handbooks/desk guides seem to imply that as long as you are at 360 hours at the end of the leave year, you will be able to keep 360 as your maximum leave carryover amount.

I had to take some annual leave to attend two funerals in January. And since I was right at 360 at the end of the leave year, my leave balance dropped slightly below 360 because of the leave I had to take early in the year.

Are my HRO and comptroller reading the regs correctly? It seems like they are penalizing me for taking leave so early in the year. Or is the intent to try to equalize your leave balance and bring your maximum carryover amount to 240 as soon as possible?

A. Your new annual leave carryover balance would be the amount you had to your credit when the new leave year began. If you fell below the retained level on that date, it would become your new maximum carryover amount. So, for example, if your maximum carryover was 360 hours but it had fallen to 346 hours when the new leave year began, 346 would be your new maximum.

However, if your leave balance had fallen to 346 during the year but had grown to 360 when the new leave year began, your maximum carryover would still be 360.


Annual leave carried over

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Q. I carry 240 hours of annual leave over every year. If I were to be on sick leave the last 2 months of the calendar year, would any excess annual leave I was unable to use carry over as well as the 240 hours?

A. Yes, if you were unable to use your excess annual leave because of sickness that occurred late in the year and was of such a duration that its use could not be rescheduled by the end of the year. Your agency would restore that leave and place it in a separate account. You’d have to use that no later than the end of the leave year ending two years after the date it was restored or the date on which you recovered from your illness or injury and were able to return to duty.

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Annual leave

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Q. After working 26 years for the Postal Service, I transferred to the Defense Department.  Postal Service employees have a higher annual leave carryover limit than other federal sectors. I currently have 466 hours of annual leave and the max carryover for  DoD is 240.  Will I lose all annual leave hours in excess of 240 if not used by Dec. 31?

A: According to OPM, “The Postal Service Reorganization Act provides that an employee transferring between the USPS and other agencies may not lose benefits if the employee transfers without a break in service. The employee is entitled to carry over the higher leave ceiling that he or she had at the USPS. All 466 hours of annual leave will transfer to DoD and only the hours in excess of his or her USPS ceiling will be subject to use or lose.

“An employee transferring from USPS is entitled to the maximum carryover ceiling (personal leave ceiling) provided by USPS upon transfer to another agency. The employee is entitled to the higher carryover ceiling unless the employee’s annual leave balance is reduced at the end of the leave year. Any reduction in the annual leave balance at the end of the leave year will result in a lower personal leave ceiling, and the employee’s personal leave ceiling will be subject to change until it is reduced to the 240-hour ceiling provided in title 5 of the United States Code.

“In your example, the employee’s USPS leave ceiling will serve as the employee’s personal leave ceiling. So if the 466 hours of annual leave is within the employee’s USPS leave ceiling, that will be the employee’s personal leave ceiling as an employee of DoD. The employee’s personal leave ceiling will continue to reduce anytime the employee’s annual leave account has less than that amount at the end of the leave year. As long as the employee’s annual leave balance is under his USPS ceiling at the end of this leave year (December 31, 2011, for this leave year), that will be his or her new personal leave ceiling.’


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Unused leave

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Q: As a federal civil service employee in the Defense Department, I usually have several days of use/lose annual leave at the end of the year. Rather than taking off almost the entire month of December to avoid losing accrued annual leave, am I allowed to sell back the unused leave?

A: There is no provision in law that would allow you to be paid for unused annual leave that exceeds the carryover amount from one leave year to the next.

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