B-242076, May 7, 1991

B-242076: May 7, 1991

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Bought back 97 hours of annual leave which was subject to immediate forfeiture. /1/ For the reasons explained below. Determined that the injury was causally related to her employment and that Ms. Chaney was entitled to compensation and certain other benefits under the Federal Employees' Compensation Act. Chaney had transferred to the Department of the Army and was stationed at Rock Island Arsenal. Chaney should only have bought back 8 hours of annual leave as that would bring her up to the 240 maximum.". We note that the calculation done by Rock Island Arsenal is correct. Bought back 97 hours of annual leave which was subject to immediate forfeiture. We held that an employee who buys back annual leave following a workers' compensation award must have his annual leave record reconstructed to show the recredit of the leave as of the time it was used.

B-242076, May 7, 1991

CIVILIAN PERSONNEL - Leaves Of Absence - Annual leave - Forfeiture - Restoration CIVILIAN PERSONNEL - Leaves Of Absence - Annual leave - Leave repurchase - Workmen compensation insurance DIGEST: An employee, acting on incorrect advice received from her personnel office, bought back 97 hours of annual leave which had to be forfeited in a workers' compensation leave buy-back situation. The employee may utilize the administrative remedy which our Office has previously allowed in Edmond Godfrey, 62 Comp.Gen. 253 (1983), to ameliorate the situation.

Linda M. Chaney:

The Department of the Army requests our decision concerning an employee who, acting on erroneous advice received from a personnel office, bought back 97 hours of annual leave which was subject to immediate forfeiture. /1/ For the reasons explained below, we remand this matter to the Department of the Army for administrative relief.

On February 12, 1984, Ms. Linda Chaney, a Department of Defense employee, sustained a serious injury requiring extensive hospitalization. /2/ On November 30, 1987, the Employees' Compensation Appeals Board, Department of Labor, determined that the injury was causally related to her employment and that Ms. Chaney was entitled to compensation and certain other benefits under the Federal Employees' Compensation Act, 5 U.S.C. Sec. 8101-8193. /3/ The Personnel Office at Peterson AFB, Colorado, advised Ms. Chaney to buy back her annual leave and processed her application to buy back 105 hours.

In the meantime, Ms. Chaney had transferred to the Department of the Army and was stationed at Rock Island Arsenal, Rock Island, Illinois. On July 5, 1989, the Personnel Office at Rock Island requested Peterson AFB to review her leave record because "Ms. Chaney should only have bought back 8 hours of annual leave as that would bring her up to the 240 maximum."

We note that the calculation done by Rock Island Arsenal is correct. Thus, Ms. Chaney, acting on the incorrect advice she had received, bought back 97 hours of annual leave which was subject to immediate forfeiture.

Generally, an employee who chooses to use annual or sick leave to recuperate from a work-related injury may repurchase or "buy back" such leave pursuant to 20 C.F.R. Sec. 10.310 (1990). In Edmond Godfrey, 62 Comp.Gen. 253 (1983), we held that an employee who buys back annual leave following a workers' compensation award must have his annual leave record reconstructed to show the recredit of the leave as of the time it was used, and that in such a reconstruction, annual leave reinstated in excess of the maximum permissible carryover would be forfeited. However, we also held that an employing agency is obligated under 20 C.F.R. Sec. 10.310 to advise an employee of all costs associated with buy-back, including the forfeiture of repurchased leave upon reconstruction of the employee's leave account. Since the employing agency had failed to apprise Mr. Godfrey of the consequences of the buy-back, we had no objection to the agency's retroactively placing him on annual leave to the extent necessary to avoid a forfeiture. He would then be entitled to be paid for that leave and required to refund the worker's compensation payments received for the period of reinstated annual leave.

Since Ms. Chaney received incorrect advice from her personnel office causing her to forfeit 97 hours of leave, we believe that she should be allowed to utilize the administrative remedy provided under Edmond Godfrey, supra. Thus, Ms. Chaney may elect to be placed on annual leave retroactively to avoid any or all of the forfeiture. She would then be entitled to a refund of the amount she paid to buy back that leave from her employing agency, and she would be required to refund any workers' compensation received for that period. /4/

Accordingly, we are remanding this case to the Rock Island Arsenal Personnel Office to advise Ms. Chaney in regard to her leave buy-back. That office may then make any necessary adjustments to Ms. Chaney's leave records on the authority of this decision.

/1/ This request was submitted by Captain Gary W. Boardman, Finance and Accounting Officer, Rock Island Arsenal, Rock Island, Illinois. Reference: SMCR1-RMF-P.

/2/ At the time of the injury, Ms. Chaney was employed by the Department of the Air Force, Tyndall Air Force Base, Florida. After intervening transfers, she was employed at Peterson Air Force Base, Colorado, when she bought back the annual leave, which was subject to immediate forfeiture, and was subsequently employed by the Department of the Army at Rock Island Arsenal, Rock Island, Illinois. This latter office is Ms. Chaney's current servicing personnel office.

/3/ Linda M. Chaney, Docket No. 87-1836 (Nov. 30, 1987).

/4/ Ms. Chaney's "employing agency" at the time was Peterson AFB. If she chooses to receive a refund, Rock Island Arsenal may pay the refund to her out of its own funds, and then seek reimbursement for the amount of the refund from Peterson AFB.