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OPM makes changes to safety leave regulations for teleworkers

The Office of Personnel Management has issued new regulations regarding its weather or safety-related leave, and it affects teleworkers.

Weather and safety leave is a paid time off authorized under the Administrative Leave Act that is generally used in conjunction with an “operating status announcement” posted on OPM’s website, commonly when it is determined that employees cannot safely travel to and from work due to weather conditions or safety concerns.

The most important change under the regulation is that an agency will no longer be able to grant weather and safety leave, in most cases, to an employee who teleworks from home or an approved out of office location.

“Because employees who are participating in a telework program under applicable agency policies are typically able to safely perform work at their approved locations (e.g., their homes), such an employee will generally not be granted weather and safety leave,” an OPM memo states. “If, in the agency’s judgment, the employee could not reasonably have anticipated these conditions, and thus was unable to prepare for telework or otherwise unable to perform productive work, the agency could exercise the discretion to grant weather and safety leave,” it adds.

The new regulation will take effect May 10, which is 30 days from the time of publication.

In the same memo, OPM announced it will reconvene its interagency working group for dismissal and closing procedures in the Washington, D.C. Metro area.

It is asking chief human capital officers who would like to have a representative from their agency in the working group to submit his or her name along with contact information (email address and telephone number) to  pay-leave-policy@opm.gov with the subject heading, “Dismissal and Closure Working Group,”  by close of business April 13.

Read the full memo here.

Reader comments

Wed, Apr 25, 2018 BDturner Maryland

This only applies to those who already have a telework agreement in place. If you aren't set up to telework, you'll still get the hazardous weather pay. If you are set up to telework, you can telework or take leave to avoid the hazardous conditions. Both Agencies that I've worked for have had this policy in place from the early days of telework, so it's nothing new.

Tue, Apr 24, 2018 Chris Craft

No reason to get the feathers ruffled. It's simply if you can--you will. I'm a routine teleworker (M-W-F), so if we are closed for weather on T or TH, it's incumbent on me to ensure I bring my laptop home (because the forecast looks like work may not occur due to the bad weather) and be prepared if the forecast becomes a reality. Now, if my internet fails or the electricity is off line, I will have to take administrative leave, because of nature's effects I am unable to do my work. There really isn't that great of a change here. They're not demanding that non-teleworkers (situational or routine) must telework. They're raising the requirement to telework if it is at all feasible and there must be a solid reason why the employee was "not" able to telework. The arguments so far resemble tilting windmills. Unfortunately for the OPM, the reality of insufficient pipeline escapes the. Personal internet slows from high use in the evening, it will literally crawl under massive telework. VPN is sporadic at best and fails miserably when taxed beyond normal telework traffic. Having teleworked for 4 years now, I have learned the traps and the work arounds all too well. Good luck folks.

Wed, Apr 18, 2018

That is the problem with on he spot telecommuting (bad weather), the agency should supply the employee with the equipment and phone line and any appropriate software that is needed. Of course they wont so this is a really stupid idea that all can telecommute. When nature takes a twist, it becomes reality will the federal government pay for the car wreck, injuries sustained or will they mandate other moronic policies that potentially endanger the work force. Common sense (and it is lacking in the management stooges) would indicate stay home and be safe. Where do these OPM minions come from? Answer: Deep bottom dwellers of the swamp that surrounds DC.

Thu, Apr 12, 2018

Teleworking works for some folks, while it does not work for others. No more common sense, when the weather is severe it is best to stay at home since there is a potential danger. Weather is nature and should not be determined by OPM minions.

Wed, Apr 11, 2018

Sounds great but if u need secure connections and they are not available you cannot reasonably telework

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