This just in from the Department of Bright Ideas, one that resurfaces from time to time and has again recently. In essence, it goes like this:

“Pick a date that you want to retire (stop working) and then just extend that date according to how much leave you have remaining on the books, including any leave you would earn while on leave. You are increasing your length of service through your leave balance. Why everyone with any type of leave balance doesn’t do this at retirement puzzles me. Is there something I’m missing?”

There certainly is! To paraphrase OPM’s website, while an employee has the right to use annual leave for vacations, rest and relaxation, and personal business, it is subject to the right of the supervisor to schedule the time at which it can be taken.

Based on experience and common sense, it wouldn’t be in your supervisor’s best interest to have you encumbering a position like a dog in a manger while there’s work to be done. To make matters worse, he can’t hire a replacement until you leave for good.

Even if your supervisor was willing to let you burn off your leave, a Comptroller General ruling would stand in your way. B-46683, 24 Comp. Gen 511 states that “terminal annual or vacation leave may not be granted immediately prior to separation from the service in any case where it is known in advance that the employee is to be separated from the service.”

Strict as that ruling appears to be, it doesn’t mean that you can’t take a few days off before you retire. You can, with the approval of your supervisor. However, for your supervisor to approve it, the amount you request needs to be reasonable. Even then, most agencies will require that you be at work on the day you retire in order to complete the processing needed to separate.