You don't have to tell the boss where you are going on vacation, or what you are planning to do once you get there. But don't try to make a federal case of it if your supervisor wants to know when, and for how long, you will vacationing.

A Treasury Departmnent worker learned this lesson the hard way the other day. She took her boss to court, on grounds that he was being too nosey. She said, in effect, that annual leave she earned was her own business, as was the schedule she planned to use it on.

A U.S. District Court judge studied the matter and concluded that Uncle Sam has the same rights as a private employer who asks employees to lis their proposed vacation schedules for the purpose of planning work.

Federal employees, incidentally, get from 13 to 26 days a year of annual leave time, depending on their length of service.

The court didn't comment on whether the boss has a right to ask employees what they are going to do on their vacations, since that was not at issue. But Judge John Lewis Smith Jr., did have plenty to say on the right of the government as an employer to find out when its employees tentatively plan or wish to take leave .

Government workers get annual leave for both "rest and recreation" and also for time off for "personal and emergency puruposes." The latter category is the reason federal employers as a rule get more time off than the average nonfederal worker.

In telling the Treasury employee that she must make her proposed vacation scheduled available to the boss, the judge noted that under federal rules the supervisor has the responsiblility to decide when the leave may be taken. Many federal workers don't know this, or forget it, but the rules say that the decision to grant time off "will generally be made in the light of needs of the service rather than solely on the desires of the employee."

As to the particular case, the judge said there is nothing wrong or improper with the boss telling subordinates to list dates when they thought they would be taking three or more days of annual leave.

"This practice is not only consistent with the applicable statute and regulations," the judge wrote in his opinion, "but is also an exercise of sound management."

That means when the boss wants to know when you are planning to take a vacation, uyou had better tell him or her.