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Excess leave may be carried over under BRAC

By Larry Olson, Installation Management Agency Human Resources

WASHINGTON (Installation Management Agency Headquarters, Dec. 23, 2005) — Under terms of the 2005 Base Realignment and Closure law, all appropriated and nonappropriated fund employees at Installation Management Agency Headquarters and regions and garrisons designated for realignment or closure through the BRAC process, are authorized to carry over annual leave in excess of the normal 240 hours. 

Annual leave restored under this special BRAC provision is placed in a separate leave account and employees are not required to use this restored leave before other available annual leave.  Servicing Civilian Personnel Advisory Centers at these locations are ready to provide advice and to administer this provision.

This leave restoration does not apply to employees assigned to positions designated to continue on-site operations after the activity's closure/realignment.  Leave carry over is also not an entitlement when positions are relocated within the commuting area. 

The IMA's Civilian Personnel Branch has requested clarification on the following areas of uncertainty in the leave carryover eligibility:
— Individuals based overseas who are designated as closure-critical and who agree to stay just to closing yet have no return rights to the United States.
— The interpretation of commuting area requires a more specific definition from the Department of Defense.

If restored leave is not used and if covered employees move to a non-DoD Federal agency or to a DoD installation that is not being closed or realigned, the restored leave is paid out in a lump sum.  At this time, it appears additional BRAC monies may be made available to cover these costs, but that is not certain, and is one more issue that requires clarification from Army. 

Employees also have an option of using the restored annual leave to remain on the rolls past their scheduled separation date in order to qualify for retirement and/or Federal Employees Health Benefits Coverage.

Employees need not take action.  Local CPACs will send notification to Defense Finance and Accounting Service of employees eligible for the leave restoration provision.  Early in the calendar year, there will be an annotation on leave and earning statements reflecting the restored leave.  HQ IMA will provide additional information and clarification as soon as it is received.

A list of Frequently Asked Questions provided by the IMA Human Resources Division:

Question 1:  Do employees with return rights to BRAC-affected offices qualify to have their use of lose leave restored while they are still at their overseas location?

Answer 1:  Since an employee with return rights is assigned to an overseas organization that does not fall under BRAC, s/he would not initially qualify for the exemption to use or lose annual leave.  However, when that employee exercises the return rights to the stateside organization that is affected by BRAC, s/he would then be eligible to accrue annual leave in excess of the normal use/lose amount. 
Question 2:  How are local move/same commuting area defined (same state, within 50 miles, etc.)?  For example, would employees relocating from Ft. Monroe to Ft. Eustis under BRAC qualify for the use of lose leave carryover benefit?
Answer 2: 59 Comptroller General Decision 397 (1980) states that "an arbitrary distance radius must NOT be established in setting up the local commuting area of the permanent or TDY station."  We are trying to determine who exactly will establish the definition of a commuting area as it relates to the use/lose exemption.   
Question 3:  Are employees whose organization is being realigned, though not at a BRAC closure site, being covered by this forfeiture provision?  

Answer 3: Yes, employees assigned to organizations that are realigning outside the commuting area due to BRAC are eligible for the use/lose exemption.  If the move is not BRAC-related, the employees of that organization would not get the exemption. 
Question 4: Does the fact that a tenant activity such as IMA NWRO on a non-BRAC installation (non-closing installation) is scheduled under the BRAC announcement to be realigned to a different commuting area, in this case to Ft. Sam, San Antonio, TX qualify the employees of that realigning organization to the entitlement?   

Answer 4: Yes, since IMA NWRO is realigning under BRAC from Rock Island to Fort Sam, the IMA NWRO employees will get the use/lose exemption.  Once the employees have completed the move to Fort Sam, they will be paid lump sum for any excess annual leave accrued, and will no longer be eligible for the exemption since they would no longer be affected by BRAC.  IMA employees already located at the gaining BRAC activity (i.e., Fort Sam) are not relocating outside the commuting area, so are not eligible for the use/lose exemption. 
Question 5: There are some activities within DoD that may not begin execution of their "move" for another two, three, or more years from now. That said, does it mean that activities covered under BRAC and civilian workers affected by the realignment (and in accordance with BRAC policy, and regulations) are all entitled to participate in the carryover of annual leave regardless of how far in advance of any particular "move date" their activity is scheduled to execute? 

Answer 5: The effective date of the annual leave carryover is not tied to the "move" date and is an incentive to keep employees as long as possible until the agency moves out of the commuting area.  The BRAC law triggers this incentive.  The carryover provision will begin with this year (November 2005) and continue until a move occurs (BRAC, resignation, transfer to another agency, retirement, etc.).  In some cases, the annual leave provision will be needed for employees to meet eligibility requirements for retirement rather than relocating to the new duty location (cost is less than PCS in most cases).  The carryover provision ends with the relocation or separation and annual leave in excess of 240 hours will be paid if an employee transfers to another agency.  If an employee separates from government service, payment will be made for all leave. Information will be posted on how to record this leave as soon as it can be cleared with the Defense Finance and Accounting Office. 

Question 6:  The Civilian Personnel Manual states that employees who move to other organizations are paid lump sum (1705.5.4), but do not stipulate the rules for employees who stay with the organization and are required to move as an organization to a new duty location. What happens if the employees accompany their positions to the new locations?  Do we have to pay them lump sum or can the leave be retained in a "restored" account? 

Answer 6: Employees who accompany their positions to the new location will receive a lump sum payment at the time of the move for any excess leave accrued.  At that point, they will no longer be eligible for the use/lose provision, and will not be authorized to accumulate leave in excess of 240 hours under this exemption.
Question 7:  Many closing installations must move organizations as discretionary moves but the destinations are not yet determined.  Because of the closure announcement, the employees are entitled to the use/lose exemption.  What happens to the excess leave (accumulated while still at the location before the decision on the destination of their jobs/work is made) if the destination is in the local area--is the leave taken away? 

Answer 7: The employees scheduled for discretionary moves, with locations yet to be determined, will get the use/lose provision.  If the destination for the discretionary move is determined to be within the commuting area, the employees will be paid lump sum at the time the decision is made for any excess leave accrued.  At that point, they will no longer be eligible for the use/lose provision, and will not be authorized to accumulate leave in excess of 240 hours under this clause.
Question 8:  Closing installations have yet to identify the personnel who will become caretakers after closure.  What happens to the excess leave these individuals have accrued when they are identified to become caretakers?   

Answer 8: Caretakers will be paid lump sum at the time they actually begin their caretaker function.  At that point, they will no longer be eligible for the use/lose provision, and will not be authorized to accumulated leave in excess of 240 hours under this clause.

Question 9: Specifically, Fort Richardson Alaska has been identified to have the garrison functions realigned under Elmendorf AFB, which is within the commuting area. Since it is unknown whether the entire garrison will be realigned, will selected personnel be eligible for restoration of annual leave?

Answer 9: No, the realignment is within the commuting area and a final decision has not yet been made as to which functions will transfer to Elmendorf AFB. Therefore, no employees are at Fort Richardson are eligible for restoration of annual leave at this time.