When you separate from military service you may have up to 60 days of terminal leave. On the chance you don’t want to spend the next two months on a beach or at the lake, you may be wondering if you can go ahead and accept a civilian position while still getting a check from Uncle Sam for your military service.
The short answer is – yes. You can accept a position, including a federal government civil service position or a position with a contractor while on terminal leave from the government. There is a rule that individuals cannot accept two paychecks from the federal government, but a clear exemption exists for service members under U.S. Code §5534a. Service members still face restrictions on pursuing state and local government positions. And service members should keep in mind, even if they begin working a new position while on terminal leave, they remain service members with all of the same policy and administrative requirements. That includes restrictions on political activities.
Your Security Clearance and Your Military Transition
What if you had a security clearance in the military and you plan to use your security clearance in your civilian position? Once again, there are no restrictions on a civilian agency ‘picking up’ your security clearance to begin doing cleared work on terminal leave. But just as security clearance reciprocity is often a problem for individuals transferring between one government agency to another, you may find inconsistencies in how an organization addresses your security clearance status while on active duty.
Your security clearance should remain ‘current’ for a period of two years after you separate from military service, assuming your investigation hasn’t expired. It’s in your best interests to have your security clearance eligibility transferred to your new agency or company after military service, but you may find some security officers have their own policies and procedures about how you’re read into new programs while on terminal leave from the military. There is no policy preventing you from getting to work full time while on terminal leave from the military. Any delays in transferring security clearance eligibility are a reflection of the common issues of reciprocity and security clearance transfers seen across the government. Be patient, and soon you should be able to pull in that double paycheck you’ve been working toward (at least for the next 30-60 days!)