By Reg Jones
Q: I am a 48-year-old employee with 18 years of government service in the U.S. Postal Service and the Veterans Affairs Department. I am on a two-week leave of absence due to stress from my supervisor and would like to resign without filing action so that I may find other government employment. What is the longest unpaid absence I can take so that I may try another type of employment while on unpaid leave status?
A: If you didn’t report to work, you’d be considered to be absent without leave and your agency could begin the process of separating you by adverse action. On the other hand, if you requested leave without pay (LWOP), you’d be able to do that only for as many days as had been approved by your supervisor. Once again, if you failed to report for work at the end of that time period, your supervisor could begin adverse action proceedings to separate you.
Q: I’m a Federal Employees Retirement System employee who is about to take three-plus years’ leave without pay from my job to serve with an overseas international organization. What are the rules regarding unused annual leave? I plan to return to this job upon completion of the overseas posting. Can I cash in my days now? Will they be returned if I don’t use them, or may I use them after commencing my overseas post, in effect starting the other job while on “LWOP-leave”?
A: You cannot cash in your unused annual leave when you go on LWOP, nor may you use it while on LWOP. The full amount will be recredited to you when you return from your overseas tour.
Q: I’m a Federal Employees Retirement Service employee, 54 years old with 25 years of service. I have a 91-year-old father with Alzheimer’s disease who requires full-time care. Is there any program where I could take an early retirement to care for him? Also, I have an upcoming background investigation due. If I didn’t provide this, could I be fired, but still be eligible for immediate retirement?
A: Along with receiving approval for the use of annual or sick leave, you could request up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave under the Family and Medical Leave Act. Whether you would be eligible for discontinued service retirement if you were fired would depend on the nature of the action used to separate you. You’d have to discuss this with your agency before making a decision.