Expert's View

Reg Jones

Yes, it’s that time of year when the itch to retire becomes overwhelming. With that in mind, many employees wonder if they can pick a date on which they want to retire and go on annual leave until their annual leave balance runs out.

While this sounds like a great idea, there are at least two impediments to carrying it out. The first impediment is this: While an employee has the right to use annual leave for a variety of reasons, including vacations and personal business, it is subject to the right of the supervisor to schedule when it can be taken. As a rule, it wouldn’t be in your supervisor’s best interest to let you to take off for weeks – or even months – at a time. For one thing, she or he couldn’t hire a replacement until you left for good.


The second impediment is even greater: A Comptroller General ruling would block you from doing that. 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, be reasonable. Even then, most agencies will require you to be at work on the day you retire in order to complete the processing needed to separate you from service.

Read more on annual leave in the federal government at