As the weather gets colder and the chance for inclement weather rises, the Office of Personnel Management updated its policies and procedures regarding the dismissal of federal employees for emergency situations. OPM defines this as, “The inability to safely travel to an approved work location may result in ‘closure’ of a federal office (i.e., closed to the public and non-emergency employees) for the full day or authorization of a delayed arrival.”
Weather and Safety Leave
This type of leave was granted in the Administrative Leave Act of 2016 and was previously granted as an administrative leave of an excused absence. The final regulations on this were issued in April 208.
This is stressed under the new weather and safety leave type. OPM encourages agencies to use telework as much as possible during these situations to ensure continuity across government operations. OPM also encourages agencies to review their telework agreements to ensure they are in place should an unexpected situation arise.
The agency also said other agencies won’t be able to provide weather and safety leave to a telework participant who is not prevented from working safely at an approved telework site during severe weather or emergency situations. Typically, telework participants won’t receive weather and safety leave, since they aren’t prevented from performing work at an approved location due to weather or other safety-related emergencies.
As with most regulations, there are some exceptions, such as unexpected weather or unsafe telework sites. The new policy has changed to include these and now states:
[su_quote]Previously, OPM guidance stated that only those employees with telework agreements containing express language requiring them to work during a closure situation could be denied administrative leave. Under OPM’s weather and safety leave regulations, all telework program participants will be ineligible for weather and safety leave when a closure is announced except in rare circumstances when one of the exceptions under 5 CFR 630.1605(a)(2) applies. Employees participating in a telework program must telework, take other leave (paid or unpaid) or paid time off (as approved by the agency), or a combination of both unless an exception applies.[/su_quote]
The revised guidance also covers topics like how weather and safety leave apply to emergency and non-emergency employees.