B-130418, FEB. 28, 1957

B-130418: Feb 28, 1957

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THE COMPENSATION FOR WHICH IS INCLUDED IN A FORWARDED VOUCHER SUBMITTED TO YOU FOR CERTIFICATION. WHOSE ORIGINAL APPOINTMENT WAS EFFECTIVE JUNE 14. WAS ON JANUARY 6. HE WAS RECALLED TO DUTY AUGUST 2. WAS UNABLE TO REPORT BECAUSE OF ILLNESS AND HIS FURLOUGH WAS EXTENDED. SINCE WORK WAS AVAILABLE. PROPERLY SHOULD HAVE BEEN PLACED ON LEAVE WITHOUT PAY OR SICK LEAVE. IT IS STATED THAT APPARENTLY EVERYONE CONCERNED OVERLOOKED THE FACT THAT HE HAD SICK LEAVE TO HIS CREDIT. ARNETT WAS STILL TOO ILL TO RETURN TO DUTY AND HE WAS PLACED IN A LEAVE WITHOUT PAY STATUS. IT WAS THEN DISCOVERED THAT HE HAD TO HIS CREDIT 38 HOURS OF SICK LEAVE AND 4 HOURS OF ANNUAL LEAVE. WAS EXECUTED PLACING THE EMPLOYEE IN A DUTY STATUS FOR THE PERIOD.

B-130418, FEB. 28, 1957

TO MR. M. H. KENNEDY, AUTHORIZED CERTIFYING OFFICER, UNITED STATES DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE:

YOUR LETTER DATED DECEMBER 6, 1956, RECEIVED HERE JANUARY 16, 1957, REQUESTS A DECISION UPON THE PROPRIETY, UNDER THE CIRCUMSTANCES SET FORTH BELOW, OF A RETROACTIVE GRANT OF SICK LEAVE TO A DECEASED EMPLOYEE,GALE D. ARNETT, THE COMPENSATION FOR WHICH IS INCLUDED IN A FORWARDED VOUCHER SUBMITTED TO YOU FOR CERTIFICATION.

MR. ARNETT, WHOSE ORIGINAL APPOINTMENT WAS EFFECTIVE JUNE 14, 1954,WAS ON JANUARY 6, 1955, PLACED IN A FURLOUGH STATUS BECAUSE OF DECREASE IN ACTIVITIES. HE WAS RECALLED TO DUTY AUGUST 2, 1955, BUT WAS UNABLE TO REPORT BECAUSE OF ILLNESS AND HIS FURLOUGH WAS EXTENDED. AT THE TIME OF THE EXTENSION OF THE FURLOUGH, AUGUST 2, 1955, MR. ARNETT, SINCE WORK WAS AVAILABLE, PROPERLY SHOULD HAVE BEEN PLACED ON LEAVE WITHOUT PAY OR SICK LEAVE. IT IS STATED THAT APPARENTLY EVERYONE CONCERNED OVERLOOKED THE FACT THAT HE HAD SICK LEAVE TO HIS CREDIT. AT THE END OF THE EXTENDED FURLOUGH, OCTOBER 1, 1955, MR. ARNETT WAS STILL TOO ILL TO RETURN TO DUTY AND HE WAS PLACED IN A LEAVE WITHOUT PAY STATUS. ON MARCH 24, 1956, WHILE IN A LEAVE WITHOUT PAY STATUS, MR. ARNETT DIED. IT WAS THEN DISCOVERED THAT HE HAD TO HIS CREDIT 38 HOURS OF SICK LEAVE AND 4 HOURS OF ANNUAL LEAVE. FOR THE PURPOSE OF GRANTING THE SICK LEAVE A PERSONNEL ACTION DATED MAY 11, 1956, WAS EXECUTED PLACING THE EMPLOYEE IN A DUTY STATUS FOR THE PERIOD, IMMEDIATELY PRIOR TO DEATH, BEGINNING AFTER SIX HOURS OF MARCH 16, 1956. IT FURTHER APPEARS THAT MR. ARNETT'S SERVICES MAY NOT HAVE BEEN NEEDED FROM ABOUT JANUARY 1, 1956, TO SOMETIME AROUND AUGUST 1956. THE PROPRIETY OF THE PERSONNEL ACTION OF MAY 11, 1956, RETROACTIVELY RETURNING THE EMPLOYEE TO A DUTY STATUS FOR THE PERIOD IMMEDIATELY PRIOR TO HIS DEATH IS IN QUESTION.

THE EXERCISE OF ADMINISTRATIVE DISCRETION IN THE GRANTING OF SICK LEAVE, WITHIN THE LIMITATIONS OF APPLICABLE LAWS AND REGULATIONS, IS GENERALLY NOT SUBJECT TO REVIEW BY OUR OFFICE; AND WE RECOGNIZE, IN THE ABSENCE OF STATUTORY OR REGULATORY RESTRICTION, THAT THE LEAVE STATUS OF AN EMPLOYEE OVER A PERIOD PRIOR TO SEPARATION, BY DEATH OR OTHERWISE, MAY BE CONSIDERED ADMINISTRATIVELY AFTER THE EMPLOYEE'S SEPARATION. SEE 24 COMP. GEN. 143.

COMMENTING UPON THE PRESENT SITUATION, INVOLVING AN EXTENDED PERIOD OF ABSENCE FROM DUTY AND A LIMITED CREDIT OF LEAVE, IT WOULD APPEAR THAT THE RESTORATION FOR LEAVE PROPERLY SHOULD HAVE BEEN MADE EFFECTIVE AUGUST 2, 1955, WHEN THE EMPLOYEE FIRST BECAME ENTITLED TO BE PLACED IN A SICK LEAVE STATUS AND AT WHICH TIME, NO DOUBT, ADMINISTRATIVE ACTION TO THAT EFFECT WOULD HAVE BEEN TAKEN BUT FOR THE OVERSIGHT PREVIOUSLY MENTIONED. ALSO, IF MR. ARNETT'S SERVICES WERE NOT NEEDED DURING THE PERIOD IMMEDIATELY PRIOR TO HIS DEATH, DURING WHICH PERIOD HE OTHERWISE WOULD HAVE BEEN IN A FURLOUGH STATUS, THE PERSONNEL ACTION RETROACTIVELY GRANTING HIM A DUTY STATUS DURING THAT PERIOD WOULD BE IMPROPER. SEE 27 COMP. GEN. 227.

HOWEVER, AS FOR THE PURPOSE HEREIN--- COMPENSATION FOR SICK LEAVE-- THERE WOULD BE LITTLE POINT IN HAVING THE PERSONNEL ACTION OF MAY 11, 1956, AMENDED TO SHOW A RETURN TO DUTY EFFECTIVE AUGUST 2, 1955, INSTEAD OF MARCH 16, 1956, YOU ARE ADVISED THAT THE VOUCHER SUBMITTED, IF OTHERWISE CORRECT, MAY BE CERTIFIED FOR PAYMENT.