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Gardening Leave - does it really exist?

I wonder if anyone could help me please, I am in my last year, completed my resettlement course, got the desired qualification and in the process got offered a job! The job is perfect for me, the firm are desperate to take me on, must admit to doing a bit of moonlighting already so I know it's right, but I'm still committed until July 2007. Which is where I was a few days ago until someone claimed they knew of a few members of the regiment I'm attached to that have been granted periods of up to six months leave at the CO's discretion to work with civilian firms as long as they do so for training purposes and don't actually get paid? Don't quite understand that as I though it was okay to have two (or more) paid jobs with the CO's permission, but hey!

Tried looking for some ink on paper to back these claims up, but so far it appears the CO holds all the cards and if you are deemed able to leave your post then he may grant you this 'special' leave, but everybody seems to have a different opinion of how it works, any ideas? Any info greatly appreciated.

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