Reg Jones Expert's View

Continuing on our trip around cloud-cuckoo land, here’s a doozy. And it’s been dreamed up by employees who want to burn off their annual leave before retiring by taking "terminal leave." I think they get the idea from the military. Let me explain.

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Before members of the military are separated or retire, they are permitted to take their unused annual leave. So, for example, if a service member is due to be separated on September 30 and has 30 days of accrued leave, he can go on terminal leave on September 1. While he’ll still get a paycheck and any other entitlements, he’s essentially already out of the service. One of the advantages of this arrangement is that it allows relatively young members of the military to do a little job hunting while still in a pay status.

Now hear this! There is no such thing as terminal leave in the civilian federal government. Annual leave needs to be scheduled and approved by your supervisor. You just can’t burn it off. While this might seem like an unfair restriction, just remember that you’ll be compensated handsomely for any unused annual leave you have to your credit on the day you retire. And it will be paid in a lump-sum at the hourly rate of basic pay you were receiving during your final pay period.