DOD Civilian Employees' Use of Sick Leave Before Retirement Is Still High

FPCD-79-66: Published: Aug 8, 1979. Publicly Released: Aug 8, 1979.

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The services are permitting many employees pending optional retirement to exhaust their sick leave with the result that these employees receive full pay and earn additional sick and annual leave plus retirement credit while exhausting this sick leave. At five installations examined, about 10 percent of the employees were granted extended sick leave immediately before retiring, and about one-third used all sick leave before retiring. Agency approval for retirement-eligible employees to exhaust sick leave before retiring constitutes an agency-approved disability retirement, which is processed as optional retirement for convenience. Employees receive lump-sum payment for all unused annual leave on retiring, but not for sick leave. There is a financial incentive for these employees to conserve annual leave and charge sick leave when they are absent from work.

GAO believes that more emphasis is needed to properly administer sick leave, and that the employing agency must independently verify that employees are incapacitated for their jobs rather than relying only on the private physician's diagnosis. GAO found that agencies are not using their authority to require employees suspected of sick leave abuse to furnish acceptable medical evidence of incapacitation or undergo a fitness-for-duty medical examination.

Recommendation for Executive Action

  1. Status: Closed

    Comments: Please call 202/512-6100 for additional information.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of Defense should continue to emphasize to the services the need to obtain sufficient medical evidence before approving employees' requests for extended sick leave and direct the services to use their authority to (1) require employees on extended sick leave absences to undergo a periodic fitness-for-duty examination, and (2) require employees suspected of sick leave abuse to submit acceptable medical evidence for each absence, regardless of length.

    Agency Affected:


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