A retired Department of Energy (DOE) employee appealed a Claims Group settlement which denied his request for a lump-sum payment of 184 hours of restored annual leave. The employee had scheduled 200 hours of annual leave; however, due to work requirements, the employee used only 16 hours of the leave. Leave restoration was approved but, despite repeated inquiries, the leave failed to show up on his payroll statement. However, DOE personnel assured him that no time limits existed for its use. After the employee's retirement, he requested a lump-sum payment of his unused annual leave and was advised that he had forfeited all rights to further restoration or lump-sum payment for the leave because he had not requested the leave within the 2-year period after its restoration. The Claims Group denied his claim on the ground that he had no legal authority to justify the retention of or payment for restored leave not used within 2 years of the date of restoration. The retiree appealed the decision arguing that he should not have to bear the financial burden suffered because of the repeated erroneous advice DOE personnel gave him concerning his restored leave. GAO has held that, even where the employing agency fails to maintain a separate account for restored leave as required by law, the 2-year statutory limitation may not be modified or waived for unused restored annual leave. Although the employee may have received erroneous advice from DOE personnel, this did not constitute an administrative error, since no regulation exists which requires counseling of employees on the forfeiture of annual leave. Accordingly, there was no administrative error upon which a backpay claim could be founded.
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