Advances of Severance Pay to Foreign Service Local Employees of United States in Colombia

B-192511: Feb 5, 1979

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Colombian law requires that employers provide employees with severance pay and, in some instances involving home purchase, with advance payment of accrued severance pay. In accordance with the practice in Colombia, a plan was established by the Department of State for eligible Colombian employees, designated as foreign service locals (FSLs), to receive severance pay. The Department of State hesitated, however, to provide for advance payment of severance pay on the grounds that this practice: (1) may violate the statutory prohibition against the advancement of public monies, and (2) may violate the statutory requirement that obligations for a given fiscal year must pertain to that fiscal year in particular. GAO holds that the statutory provisions will not be violated, since: (1) the services which entitle the FSLs to the advances of severance pay will have been performed when the payments are made, and (2) the employee's employment or pay record will provide documentary evidence of the obligation to pay and show the fiscal year during which the liability to the employee accrued.