Federal agencies are allowed by law (Chapter 61 of Title 5, United States Code) to establish alternative work schedules (AWS) that fall into one of two categories: flexible work schedules or compressed work schedules.
A flexible work schedule (see 5 U.S.C. 6120-6126; and 5 U.S.C. 6129-6133 and 5 CFR 610, subpart D) breaks the workday into components of flexible time bands and core time. During the flexible time bands, the employee selects arrival and departure times for the workday. The core time is the period in the schedule during which the employee must be present at work or account for those hours with leave, credit hours (see below), or compensatory time off.
Under a compressed work schedule (see 5 U.S.C. 6120-6121; and 5 U.S.C. 6127-6133 and 5 CFR 610, subpart D), full-time employees fulfill the 80-hour biweekly work requirement in less than 10 days by increasing the number of hours in a workday. The two most common compressed work schedules are the 4-10 and the 5/4-9 schedules. Employees on a 4-10 schedule work four, 10-hour days each work week. Employees on the 5-4/9 schedule work nine hours each day for eight days and work eight hours for one day. In addition to their weekends, the employees get one additional day off each pay period. A compressed work schedule may be established by the agency in a non-union unit if a majority of the affected employees vote to be included.
In unionized work units, compressed and flexible work schedules typically are subject to negotiation.
An agency may not combine features of flexible work schedules and compressed work schedules into a “hybrid” work schedule program. Also see www.opm.gov/policy-data-oversight/pay-leave/work-schedules and the Handbook on Leave and Workplace Flexibilities for Childbirth, Adoption and Foster Care at www.chcoc.gov/files/handbook-on-leave-and-workplace-flexibilities-for-childbirth-adoption-and-foster-care.pdf.
Examples of various types of schedules are at www.opm.gov/oca/aws.
Credit Hours—In some flexible schedule programs, full-time or part-time employees—including General Schedule, wage grade and non-appropriated fund employees but not Senior Executive Service members—may earn and use “credit hours” under rules established by the agency or negotiated with a union, for hours the employee elects to work, with supervisory approval, in excess of the basic work requirement.
An employee may use credit hours with supervisory approval. For a full-time employee, only 24 credit hours may be carried over to the next pay period. For a part-time employee, only the hours in the employee’s biweekly basic work requirement may be carried over to the next pay period. An agency policy or union agreement may place stricter limitations on how many credit hours may be accumulated or carried over.
There is no authority in law or regulation to advance credit hours. Time cannot be charged against credit hours until the hours have been earned. For this reason, some agencies do not permit employees to use credit hours until the pay period following the one in which they are earned.
Flexible Work Schedules—The basic work requirement of a flexible work schedule (FWS) is the number of hours, excluding overtime hours, an employee must work or otherwise account for by leave, credit hours, holiday hours, excused absence, compensatory time off, or time off as an award. A full-time employee must work 80 hours/biweekly pay period, or a multiple of this requirement, as determined by the agency head. Agencies also may establish daily or weekly basic work requirements. A part-time employee works fewer hours than a full-time employee within a specified period of time, as determined by the agency head consistent with 5 U.S.C. 3401 through 3408 and 5 CFR 340.
In general, the tour of duty comprises all hours and days for which flexible and core hours have been designated. The tour of duty defines the limits within which an employee must complete his or her basic work requirement. Overtime hours are not included in the definition of a tour of duty for employees under AWS.
The types of FWS vary significantly. Agencies have the authority to establish flexible and core hours to meet their needs. Temporary changes in the tour of duty may be made under the terms of a negotiated agreement, if applicable, or agency policy.
For employees under FWS programs, overtime hours are all hours of work in excess of eight hours in a day or 40 hours in a week which are officially ordered in advance by management. The requirement that overtime hours be officially ordered in advance also applies to nonexempt employees under the Fair Labor Standards Act (see Chapter 1, Section 6). Employees on FWS may not earn overtime pay as a result of including “suffered or permitted” hours under the FLSA as hours of work. See 5 CFR 551.401(a)(2).
Management may order an employee who is covered by an FWS program to work hours beyond the number of hours the employee planned to work on a specific day. If the hours ordered to be worked are not in excess of eight hours in a day or 40 hours in a week at the time they are performed, the agency, at its discretion, may permit or require the employee to: take time off from work on a subsequent workday for a period of time equal to the number of extra hours of work ordered; complete his or her basic work requirement as scheduled and count the extra hours of work ordered as credit hours; or complete his or her basic work requirement as scheduled if the agency policy permits.
An agency may grant compensatory time off in lieu of overtime pay at the request of the employee (including prevailing rate employees and nonexempt employees) under an FWS. (See 5 U.S.C. 6123(a). Compensatory time off in lieu of overtime pay may not be required for any prevailing rate employee, any employee who is nonexempt from the FLSA, or any FLSA-exempt employee whose rate of basic pay is equal to or less than the rate for GS-10, step 10.
If an employee’s tour of duty includes eight or more hours available for work during daytime hours (that is, between 6 a.m. and 6 p.m.), he or she is not entitled to night pay even though he or she voluntarily elects to work during hours for which night pay is normally required (that is, between 6 p.m. and 6 a.m.). Night differential will not be paid solely because a prevailing rate employee elects to work credit hours, or elects a time of arrival or departure at a time of day when night differential is otherwise authorized, except that prevailing rate employees are entitled to night differential for regularly scheduled non-overtime work when a majority of the hours of a FWS schedule for a daily tour of duty occur during the night. (See 5 U.S.C. 5343(f) and 6123(c)(2).
Under an FWS program, a full-time employee who is relieved or prevented from working on a day designated as a holiday (or an “in lieu of” holiday) by federal statute or executive order is entitled to his or her rate of basic pay on that day for eight hours. (See 5 U.S.C. 6124.) If a holiday falls on a day during a part-time FWS employee’s tour of duty and the employee is relieved or prevented from working on that day, the employee is entitled to his or her rate of basic pay for the typical, average, or scheduled number of hours of work for that day toward his or her basic work requirement (not to exceed eight hours).
A full-time or part-time employee under an FWS program who performs non-overtime work on a holiday (or a day designated as the “in lieu of” holiday) is entitled to his or her rate of basic pay plus premium pay equal to his or her rate of basic pay for that holiday work. Holiday premium pay is limited to a maximum of eight hours. An employee under an FWS program who works during non-overtime and non-holiday hours that are part of the employee’s basic work requirement on a holiday is paid his or her rate of basic pay for those hours of work.
A full-time employee who performs regularly scheduled non-overtime work, a part of which is performed on Sunday, is entitled to Sunday premium pay for the entire daily tour of duty, not to exceed eight hours. It is possible for an employee to have two daily tours of duty that begin or end on the same Sunday.
Paid time off during an employee’s basic work requirement must be charged to the appropriate leave category, credit hours, compensatory time off, or to excused absence if warranted. There is no requirement that employees use flexible hours for medical or dental appointments or other personal matters if the employee wishes to charge this time to leave. To the extent permitted by the agency, an employee may choose to charge time off during flexible hours to an appropriate leave category or use credit hours when time off is scheduled during flexible hours in order to preserve leave.
The head of an agency may grant excused absence with pay to employees covered by an FWS program under the same circumstances as excused absence would be granted to employees covered by other work schedules. For employees on an FWS, the amount of excused absence to be granted should be based on the employee’s established basic work requirement in effect for the period covered by the excused absence.
When an employee covered by an FWS program is assigned to a temporary duty station using another schedule—either traditional or AWS—the agency may allow the employee to continue to use the schedule used at his or her permanent work site (if suitable) or require the employee to change the schedule to conform to operations at the temporary work site.
When a Fair Labor Standards Act-exempt or nonexempt employee under an FWS program is in a travel status during the hours of his or her regularly scheduled administrative workweek, including regularly scheduled overtime hours, that time is considered to be hours of work and must be used for the purpose of overtime pay calculations, as applicable. Note, however, that overtime hours are initially scheduled for work, not travel.
Compressed Work Schedules—The tour of duty for employees under a CWS program is defined by a fixed schedule established by the agency. Although agencies may change or stagger the arrival and departure times of employees, there are no provisions for employee flexibility in reporting or quitting times under a CWS program.
There is no legal authority for credit hours under a CWS program. The law provides for credit hours only for flexible work schedules. See 5 U.S.C. 6121(4).
For a full-time employee under a CWS program who is exempt from the FLSA, overtime hours are all officially ordered and approved hours of work in excess of the compressed work schedule. For a full-time employee who is covered by the FLSA (non-exempt), overtime hours also include any hours worked outside the compressed work schedule that are “suffered or permitted.” For a part-time employee, overtime hours are hours in excess of the CWS for a day (but must be more than eight hours) or for a week (but must be more than 40 hours).
Employee requests for compensatory time off in lieu of overtime pay may be approved only for irregular or occasional overtime work. Compensatory time off may not be approved for an SES member. Mandatory compensatory time off is limited to FLSA-exempt employees (who are not prevailing rate employees) whose rate of basic pay is greater than the rate for GS-10, step 10, and only in lieu of overtime pay for irregular or occasional overtime work. See 5 U.S.C. 5543(a)(2).
An employee is entitled to night pay for regularly scheduled night work performed between the hours of 6 p.m. and 6 a.m. The regular rules under 5 U.S.C. 5343(f) apply in determining the majority of hours for entitlement to night pay for prevailing rate employees.
A full-time employee on a CWS who is relieved or prevented from working on a day designated as a holiday (or an “in lieu of” holiday) by federal statute or executive order is entitled to his or her rate of basic pay for the number of hours of the CWS on that day. (See 5 CFR 610.406(a). If a holiday falls on a day during a part-time employee’s scheduled tour of duty and the employee is relieved or prevented from working on that day, the employee is entitled to his or her rate of basic pay for the number of hours he or she normally would have been scheduled to work that day. (See 5 CFR 610.406(b).
A full-time employee under a CWS program who performs non-overtime work on a holiday (or a day designated as the “in lieu of” holiday) is entitled to basic pay plus premium pay equal to his or her rate of basic pay for the work that is not in excess of the employee’s compressed work schedule for that day. (See 5 CFR 610.407). Since CWS schedules are fixed schedules, employees must not be required to move their regularly scheduled days off solely to avoid payment of holiday premium pay or to reduce the number of holiday hours included in the basic work requirement. See 5 U.S.C. 6101(a)(3)(E).
A part-time employee under a CWS program is entitled to holiday premium pay only for work performed during his or her CWS on a holiday. A part-time employee scheduled to work on a day designated as an “in lieu of” holiday for full-time employees is not entitled to holiday premium pay for work performed on that day, since part-time employees are not entitled to “in lieu of” holidays. (See 5 CFR 610.406(b).
A full-time or part-time employee who performs non-overtime work during a tour of duty, a part of which is performed on Sunday, is entitled to Sunday premium pay for his or her entire tour of duty on that day. Paid time off during an employee’s basic work requirement must be charged to sick or annual leave unless the employee used other paid leave or accumulated compensatory time off, or unless excused absence is approved.
The head of an agency may grant excused absence with pay to employees covered by a CWS program under the same circumstances as excused absence would be granted to employees covered by other work schedules.
When an employee covered by a CWS program is assigned to a temporary duty station using another work schedule—either traditional or AWS—the agency may allow the employee to continue to use the schedule used at his or her permanent work site (if suitable) or require the employee to change the schedule to conform to operations at the temporary work site.
When a Fair Labor Standards Act-exempt or nonexempt employee under a CWS program is in a travel status during the hours of his or her regularly scheduled administrative workweek, including regularly scheduled overtime hours, that time is considered to be hours of work and must be used for the purpose of overtime pay calculations, as applicable. Note, however, that overtime hours are initially scheduled for work, not travel.
Job Sharing for Part-Time Workers
Job sharing is a form of part-time employment in which the schedules of two or more part-time employees are arranged to cover the duties of a single full-time position—for example, each job sharer may work a portion of the day or week. In some cases, job sharing provides part-time schedules that otherwise would not be available.
There is no definitive list of jobs “suitable” for job sharing, and no law or regulation limits part-time or job sharing to specific jobs or grade levels. Any job may be filled by a part-time employee or by a team of job sharers when the arrangement meets the needs of the agency and the employee(s).
How Job Sharing Develops—A proposal can come from a full-time employee who wants to reduce work hours, from a team of job sharers, or from a supervisor who wants to consider filling a vacancy with job sharers. When an employee’s request for part-time work cannot be accommodated because of the need for full-time coverage, job sharing may be an option.
The first place to look is in the office (or a related office) where the employee works to see if another employee is interested. The contact point in the agency’s personnel office may also be keeping a list of employees who want to reduce their work hours. Employees often conduct their own search by contacting organizations and placing ads.
An agency may post a vacancy announcement to let employees know of the job sharing opportunity, but competition under agency merit promotion procedures is generally not required when an employee moves to a position with a different work schedule as long as the positions are at the same or lower grade level and have no more promotion potential.
Other Considerations—When two job sharers at the same grade level are jointly responsible for all the duties and responsibilities of the full-time position, there is no need to restructure the position. Each team member should have a copy of the original position description to which a statement has been attached to show that the incumbent is a job sharer jointly responsible for carrying out all the duties and responsibilities of the position.
When the job sharers will be individually responsible only for portions of the job, or when the job sharers are at different grade levels, separate position descriptions are required to reflect the actual duties and responsibilities of each employee. Each job sharer must have a position description that accurately reflects his or her duties and responsibilities.
The decision on whether job sharers should be jointly responsible for the entire position or only for separate functions depends on the job and the abilities of the job sharing team. To determine the arrangement for a particular job, the supervisor should examine the position description and decide which tasks will be shared; that is, handled by whichever team member is on duty, and which will be assigned to a specific individual, based on skills and experience.
Specific work schedules depend on the nature of the job and the needs of the office and the job sharing team. Almost any reasonable arrangement is possible if it meets the needs of the supervisor and the job sharers. Work schedules for job sharers can be from 16 to 32 hours per week and can be varied in the same way as other part-time employees.
Each member of a job sharing team must have his or her own performance standards.
In a reduction in force, part-time and job-sharing employees have assignment rights only to part-time positions. (Similarly, full-time employees have assignment rights only to full-time positions.)
Telework, also called telecommuting or flexiplace, involves working at home or at another approved location away from the regular worksite, such as a telecommuting center. Telework is voluntary, is not an employee right, and is not to be used as a substitute for dependent care.
The 2010 Telework Enhancement Act (P.L. 111-292) expanded and put into law many previous policies. It required each agency to establish a policy under which employees are generally presumed to be eligible to telework so long as it does not diminish employee performance or agency operations. It excepted occupations involving daily handling of secure materials or daily duties that cannot be handled at an alternative worksite; however, telework is allowed even in those circumstances in emergencies or other situations at an agency’s discretion.
The law also:
• required each agency to designate each position’s telework status and to assign a telework managing officer to oversee and promote the program;
• set requirements for incorporating teleworking into agency continuity-of-operations planning;
• barred telework by employees who had been disciplined for certain reasons, including for unexcused absences of more than five days in a year;
• required written agreements between employees and management specifying the terms of the work arrangement;
• required agencies to provide training to teleworkers and ensure that no distinction is made between teleworkers and non-teleworkers for performance appraisal, training, work requirements, and similar purposes;
• set standards on issues including information security; and
• required ongoing reports to assess agency use of telework.
Telework affects conditions of employment, and agencies must consult and negotiate with unions, as appropriate.
Individual agency practices vary. Most teleworking employees work away from their principal site on a predetermined schedule several days a month, spending most of their time at the regular site to improve communication, minimize isolation, and use facilities not readily available offsite. In addition, employees may telework on a situational basis, such as when working on a certain project, on days with high heat and humidity, when weather or other conditions hamper commuting to the regular worksite (see Severe Weather Policy, below), or in flu emergencies (see Pandemic Flu, below).
However, any employee who wishes to telework, regardless of which type, must first complete a telework training program provided by the agency and must enter into a written agreement with his/her supervisor. Supervisors and managers of teleworking employees must also complete telework training prior to entering into the agreement. The agreements typically cover issues including the schedule, the location, the equipment to be used and who will provide it, safety standards, information security policies, and expectations for working in severe weather or other emergency situations. They are to be updated as circumstances change.
Decisions regarding equipment are made by the agency and individual manager under the agency’s telework policy and any collective bargaining agreements. Generally, the government is responsible for the service and maintenance of government-owned equipment. Teleworkers using their own equipment are responsible for its service and maintenance.
Typically, the regular worksite remains the official duty station for such purposes as special salary rates, locality pay adjustments, and travel (see Official Duty Station in Section 1 of this chapter). The existing rules on hours of duty, pay, leave, and overtime generally continue.
Some teleworking employees work from other federal facilities or from local telework centers in addition to or instead of working from home.
Employees suffering work-related injuries and/or damages at the alternative worksite are covered under the Military Personnel and Civilian Employees Claims Act, the Federal Tort Claims Act, and the Federal Employees’ Compensation Act.
The Guide to Telework in the Federal Government and other information available at www.telework.gov provide specific guidance on premium pay, leave, work scheduling flexibilities, and other telework-related issues.
Also see the Handbook on Leave and Workplace Flexibilities for Childbirth, Adoption and Foster Care at www.chcoc.gov/files/handbook-on-leave-and-workplace-flexibilities-for-childbirth-adoption-and-foster-care.pdf.
Family-Friendly Schedules and Work Arrangements
A presidential memo of June 23, 2014 ordered agencies to make greater use of work scheduling and other flexibilities, stating that it is the policy of the federal government to “promote a culture in which managers and employees understand the workplace flexibilities and work-life programs available to them and how these measures can improve agency productivity and employee engagement.”
The memo and implementing guidance (in CPM 2014-11 at www.chcoc.gov/transmittals) ordered agencies to regularly remind employees of the available flexibilities and to identify and address unnecessary barriers to their use.
Employees have the right to request a work scheduling flexibility “without fear of retaliation or adverse employment action as a consequence of making such a request,” the memo said. It further ordered agencies to make sure their policies provide that on an employee’s request for such flexibility, the supervisor or designee will confer directly with the employee to understand the nature of the request, give it careful consideration, and respond within 20 business days. The final decision remains a matter of management discretion, however, and subject to any applicable collective bargaining requirements.
The memo told agencies to ensure that certain flexibilities are provided “to the maximum extent practicable” consistent with laws, rules and the agency’s mission needs. These include part-time employment and job sharing; alternative work schedules, including assurance that core hours are limited only to those hours that are necessary; telework; and break times and private spaces for nursing mothers. Also specified were various leave flexibilities: annual leave and sick leave, including the advancement of leave for employee and family care situations; sick leave for family care and bereavement, to care for a family member with a serious health condition and for adoption; consecutive or intermittent Family and Medical Leave Act leave for purposes including for childbirth, adoption, and foster care; leave sharing programs; bone marrow and organ donor leave; and leave related to domestic violence, sexual assault and stalking situations.
The memo also encouraged agencies to increase the availability and use of work-life programs such as dependent care programs including on-site child care, child-care subsidies, emergency child care and elder care; employee assistance programs including counseling, resources and referrals; worksite health and wellness programs; and support for nursing mothers.
In addition, a presidential memo of January 15, 2015, generally required agencies to offer, regardless of available leave balances, advanced sick leave in connection with the birth or adoption of a child and for other sick leave eligible uses, and advanced annual leave up to the amount an employee earns in a year for foster care placement in the employee’s home or for bonding with a healthy newborn or newly adopted child. See Chapter 5, Section 1.
That memo further ordered that agency leave policies must ensure: that employees experiencing the birth or adoption of a child, foster care placement in their home, or who have other circumstances eligible for sick or annual leave, are aware of the full range of benefits to which they are entitled; that discretionary flexibilities are used to the maximum extent practicable, consistent with mission needs; and that employees understand the benefits for which they may qualify. Policies affected by those requirements include those governing use of accrued sick and annual leave and advancement of such leave, Family and Medical Leave Act leave and leave without pay for a period beyond that provided under that law, break times and private space for nursing mothers; donated leave under leave sharing programs, backup dependent care services, telework, and flexible work schedules, part-time schedules and job sharing arrangements.
Also see www.opm.gov/policy-data-oversight/worklife and the Handbook on Leave and Workplace Flexibilities for Childbirth, Adoption and Foster Care and the Handbook on Leave and Workplace Flexibilities and Work-Life Programs for Elder Care at www.opm.gov/policy-data-oversight/pay-leave/leave-administration/fact-sheets.
An April 18, 2012 White House memo titled Establishing Policies for Addressing Domestic Violence in the Federal Workforce states that it is the government’s policy to promote the health and safety of its employees by acting to prevent domestic violence within the workplace and by providing support and assistance to employees whose working lives are affected by such violence.
Follow-up guidance issued in 2013 by the Office of Personnel Management defines domestic violence for this purpose as including physical or sexual violence, emotional and/or psychological intimidation, verbal abuse, stalking, economic control, harassment, threats, physical intimidation, or injury. It requires agencies to provide leave and/or other workplace flexibilities to help the employee remain safe and maintain work performance.
Potential accommodations for employees may include: annual leave for purposes including attending to legal matters; sick leave for purposes such as dealing with injuries or meeting with medical providers or counselors; grants of leave without pay, excused absence, family and medical leave and eligibility for leave sharing; flexible work schedules; telework; and compensatory time off, among others. When a need for time off is foreseeable, an employee must provide reasonable advance notice to the agency.
The impact of domestic violence is to be taken into consideration where the victim exhibits workplace behaviors such as absenteeism that could lead to disciplinary actions.
To take adverse action against employees who perpetrate such violence, either at the workplace or away from it, there must be a proven “nexus” between the specific misconduct of the employee and the employee’s ability to perform his or her duties.
The Guidance for Agency-Specific Domestic Violence, Sexual Assault, and Stalking Policies at www.opm.gov/policy-data-oversight/worklife/reference-materials/guidance-for-agency-specific-dvsas-policies.pdf also addresses training, confidentiality and other related issues.
A Presidential memo of April 22, 1998, directed federal agencies to make maximum use of existing flexibilities to allow federal employees to plan and take time off to perform community service as the public business permits. Each department and agency must inform its employees of the various flexibilities available to them to participate in volunteer activities.
Guidance from OPM (www.opm.gov/oca/leave/html/volunteer2.asp) states that agencies are encouraged to make appropriate use of this flexibility in responding to requests for changes in work schedules or time off to allow employees to engage in volunteer activities, while giving due consideration to the effect of the employee’s absence or change in duty schedule on work operations and productivity.
Agencies have the flexibility to approve a variety of work arrangements for employees seeking to engage in volunteer activities during normal work hours, including alternative work schedules and use of credit hours (hours within a flexible work schedule that an employee elects to work in excess of his or her basic work requirement) so as to vary the length of a workweek or workday. Employees may use credit hours to fulfill their basic work requirement, thereby gaining time off from work to pursue volunteer activities and for other purposes. If a department or agency authorizes credit hours under its flexible work schedules program, a maximum of 24 credit hours may be carried over from one pay period to another.
Employees seeking to participate in volunteer activities during basic working hours may be granted annual leave, leave without pay, compensatory time off, or, in limited circumstances, excused absence. When employees request annual leave to perform volunteer service, agencies must be as accommodating as possible in reviewing and approving such requests consistent with regulations in 5 CFR Part 630, subpart C, and applicable collective bargaining agreements.
At the discretion of the agency, leave without pay (LWOP) may be granted to employees who wish to engage in volunteer activities during normal working hours. As with annual leave, OPM encourages departments and agencies, whenever possible, to act favorably upon requests by employees for LWOP to perform volunteer services. However, LWOP is deemed appropriate for extended periods only if the employee is expected to return to his or her job at the end of the LWOP.
Agencies may approve requests from employees for compensatory time off in exchange for performing an equal amount of time in irregular or occasional overtime work. For employees under flexible work schedules, departments and agencies may approve employee requests for compensatory time off for both regularly scheduled and irregular or occasional overtime work.
Each department or agency has discretion to excuse employees from their duties without loss of pay or charge to leave (excused absence or administrative leave). It is the responsibility of each department or agency head to balance support for employees’ volunteer activities with the need to ensure that employees’ work requirements are fulfilled and that agency operations are conducted efficiently and effectively. Agencies should review their internal guidance on excused absence and applicable collective bargaining agreements.
Part-time employment or job-sharing may also be approved for employees who request such arrangements in connection with performing volunteer service.
While managers, supervisors, and other agency officials may encourage employees to become more involved in volunteer activities, 5 U.S.C. 6132 provides that employees may not be coerced for the purpose of interfering with their legal rights under flexible and compressed work schedules.
Conditions of employment (such as work schedules) of bargaining unit employees may not be changed without notifying the exclusive representative of those employees and, upon timely request, bargaining on the matter to the extent required and/or permitted by laws, regulations, and collective bargaining agreements. Moreover, bargaining unit employees may participate in flexible or compressed work schedules “only to the extent expressly provided under a collective bargaining agreement between the agency and the exclusive representative.” (See 5 U.S.C. 6130(a)(2).)
Conflict of interest laws and related regulations governing outside employment for compensation also apply to federal employees who engage in volunteer activities. Hatch Act restrictions apply to employees who are on duty, as well as to those on paid or unpaid leave. Employees may not use government facilities and equipment for other than authorized purposes. (See 5 CFR 2635.704.) Employees may consult their agency ethics officials or office of general counsel for information about what may be authorized by their agency or department.
In most instances, employees who perform mission-related agency sponsored/ sanctioned, or skills-enhancing volunteer activities while they are on excused absence are covered by 5 U.S.C. 81, Compensation for Work Injuries.
Recognition—Departments and agencies are encouraged to recognize their employees who volunteer to help others, although usually not in the form of cash or paid time off. Agencies may establish internal programs to reward employees through appropriate citations, letters of appreciation, or small mementos.
Combined Federal Campaign—Annual OPM guidance regarding the Combined Federal Campaign (at www.chcoc.gov/transmittals) encourages agencies to make employees available without charge to leave to serve in CFC-related roles such as loaned executives, coordinators, keyworkers, and members of local federal coordinating committees.
Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics Programs—An Office of Personnel Management memo to agencies of August 14, 2012 (available at www.chcoc.gov/transmittals) encouraged federal employees in careers related to science, technology, engineering and mathematics to engage in volunteer activities in their communities such as science festivals, robotics competitions, job shadowing, and mentoring that are designed to encourage students to pursue those fields. It said agencies should consider using flexibilities such as alternative work schedules, granting annual leave, leave without pay, credit hours under flexible work schedules, and compensatory time off to allow such employees to perform that type of volunteer service. Agencies also may grant excused absence when in the agency’s best interest.
Preventive Health Services and Screenings
Agencies may use work schedule and leave flexibilities to allow federal employees to take advantage of health screening programs and other preventive health measures. See Health Promotion in Section 4 of this chapter.
Lunch is an approved period of time in a non-pay and non-work status that interrupts a basic workday or a period of overtime work for the purpose of permitting employees to eat or engage in permitted personal activities (see 5 U.S.C. 6101(a)(3)(F) and 5 CFR 551.411(c), 610.101, and 610.121(a)(6)). Agencies are allowed to establish their own policies, including whether lunch breaks will be required or permitted during overtime hours and whether they will be required or permitted for part-time employees.
The law does not provide employees with an explicit entitlement to a meal period. Each agency has the authority to establish its own requirements for meal periods. An agency may require or permit unpaid meal periods during overtime hours, and the policy may be different from the one for the basic workweek. For example, an agency could permit employees to work eight overtime hours on a Saturday or Sunday without any requirement for a meal period.
In most circumstances, an agency is prohibited from scheduling a break in working hours of more than one hour during a basic workday. This limitation applies to lunch and other meal periods. An agency may permit or require shorter meal periods. An agency may not extend a regularly scheduled lunch break by permitting an employee to take an authorized rest period (with pay) prior to or immediately following lunch, since a rest period is considered part of the employee’s compensable basic workday.
Unpaid meal periods must provide bona fide breaks in the workday. If an employee is not excused from job duties, or if he or she is recalled to job duties, the employee is entitled to pay for compensable work that is not minimal in nature.
An agency may restrict employees to a limited area (such as a secure government building or military installation) while in an on-call status during a meal period without creating an entitlement to pay for the meal period.
Meal periods during 24-hour shifts are compensable hours of work for firefighters paid under 5 CFR 550, subpart M. Meal periods are hours of work for FLSA nonexempt employees engaged in law enforcement activities who receive annual premium pay for administratively uncontrollable overtime (AUO) work under 5 U.S.C. 5545(c)(2), but are not actual hours of work for criminal investigators who receive law enforcement availability pay under 5 U.S.C. 5545a.
Agencies establish policies stating whether meal periods will be required or permitted when part-time employees or employees who work under flexible work schedules have basic workdays that are less than eight hours long. See the fact sheet at www.opm.gov/policy-data-oversight/pay-leave/work-schedules.
Work Schedule Adjustments for Religious Observances
To the extent that modifications in work schedules do not interfere with accomplishing an agency’s mission, federal agencies must approve employee requests to adjust work schedules for the purpose of taking time off without charge to leave or entitlement to overtime pay when employees’ personal religious beliefs require that they abstain from work during periods of a workday or workweek (see 5 U.S.C. 5550a and 5 CFR Part, subpart J). When deciding whether an employee’s request for an adjusted work schedule should be approved, a supervisor should not make any judgment about the employee’s religious beliefs or his or her affiliation with a religious organization. A supervisor may disapprove an employee’s request if modifications of an employee’s work schedule would interfere with the efficient accomplishment of the agency’s mission.
Any employee who elects to work alternative hours for this purpose is entitled to an equal amount of time off (hour for hour) from his or her scheduled tour of duty. An employee may work such alternative hours (compensatory time) before or after the grant of compensatory time off.
A grant of compensatory time off must be repaid by the appropriate amount of work within a reasonable period. If an employee is absent when he or she is scheduled to perform work to make up for a planned absence for a religious observance, the employee must take paid leave, request leave without pay, or be charged absent without leave, if appropriate.
The overtime pay provisions of Title 5, United States Code, and the Fair Labor Standards Act do not apply to employees who work different hours or days because of religious observances, even if an employee voluntarily works in excess of 40 hours per week or eight hours per day for this purpose. If an employee is separated or transferred before using the time set aside for religious observances, any hours not used must be paid at the employee’s rate of basic pay in effect when the extra hours of work were performed. See the fact sheet at www.opm.gov/policy-data-oversight/pay-leave/work-schedules.
Severe Weather Policy
During weather emergencies, agencies determine closing and related policies and announce the policies to employees and the local media. The decision to have federal employees report to work as scheduled or to implement any one of several work schedule options generally is made several hours before normal starting time, although changes can be made during the working day as events warrant.
Specific policies are in the Washington, DC Area Dismissal and Closure Procedures guide at http://main.opm.gov/policy-data-oversight/pay-leave/leave-administration. These act as a model for policies applying in other areas as determined by local Federal Executive Boards. See www.feb.gov.
Employees who are required to work on-site or to telework during their regular tour of duty on a day when offices are closed (or when other employees are authorized a delayed arrival or an early departure) are not entitled to receive overtime pay, credit hours, or compensatory time off for performing work during their regularly scheduled non-overtime hours.
In all cases, employees designated as emergency employees are expected to report for work on time or remain at their worksite unless otherwise instructed. An agency may grant excused absence to an emergency employee unable to report for work due to hardship or circumstances unique to the employee. For non-emergency employees, the categories are:
- Federal agencies are open—Employees are expected to report to their worksite or begin telework on time.
- Federal agencies are open with an option for unscheduled leave or unscheduled telework—Employees must notify their supervisor of their intent to use unscheduled leave (including annual leave, earned compensatory time off, earned credit hours, leave without pay, or sick leave if they meet normal qualifications) or unscheduled telework (if the employee is telework-ready). Telework-ready employees who are regularly scheduled to perform telework or who notify their supervisor of their intention to perform unscheduled telework must be prepared to telework for the entire workday, or take unscheduled leave, or a combination of both.
- Federal agencies are operating under a delayed arrival policy with the option for unscheduled leave or unscheduled telework—Employees are to plan their commutes so that they arrive at work a specified number of hours later than their normal arrival time. Employees arriving later than the designated time will be charged annual leave for the excess time unless granted excused absence due to a personal hardship. Policies for unscheduled leave and unscheduled telework are the same as those above, as are policies for regularly scheduled telework.
- Federal agencies are operating under a delayed arrival policy requiring employees to remain off the roads until a designated time, with offices open at a designated time and with the option for unscheduled leave or unscheduled telework—Employees are to delay the start of their commutes until a designated time but should arrive at their worksites before the announced opening time. Employees arriving later than the opening time will be charged annual leave for the excess time unless granted excused absence due to a personal hardship. Policies for unscheduled leave and unscheduled telework are the same as those above, as are policies for regularly scheduled telework.
- Federal agencies are open with a staggered early departure—Employees will be dismissed from work a specified number of hours earlier than their normal departure and will be granted excused absence for that time. Employees may request unscheduled leave in order to depart before their individually staggered early departure times (requesting unscheduled telework is no longer an option). Agencies may grant excused absence to depart before the specified time for personal hardship reasons Employees performing telework must continue to telework or take unscheduled leave, or a combination of both, for the entire workday.
- Federal agencies are open with a staggered early departure and a requirement that employees must leave by a specified time—This follows the policies immediately above except that, at a designated final departure time, all remaining on-site employees are dismissed and are granted excused absence for any remaining time in their workday. At that time, offices are closed.
- Immediate departure—federal offices are closed—All employees except emergency employees should leave the office immediately and are granted excused absence for any remaining time in their workday. Employees who depart before an immediate departure policy is announced are charged annual leave or leave without pay for the time between their departure and the end of their regularly scheduled workday. Employees performing telework must continue to telework or take unscheduled leave, or a combination of both, for the entire workday.
- Federal agencies are closed—emergency and telework-ready employees must follow their agency’s policies—Telework employees may be required to work, as described below, and emergency employees are expected to report for work on time unless otherwise directed. Other employees (including those on pre-approved paid leave) will be granted excused absence for the number of hours they were scheduled to work unless covered by exceptions applying to those on leave without pay, those working from remote locations, those on travel and those on an alternative work schedule day off.
- Shelter in place—Offices are closed to the public; employees (and any members of the public in the building) should follow the agency’s shelter in place policies and remain in the designated safe area until receiving further instructions. Agencies have the authority to order sheltering in place without an announcement from OPM as circumstances dictate. Employees who are unable to enter their buildings are granted excused absence. Employees performing telework are expected to continue working unless affected by the emergency or otherwise notified.
Special policies apply in certain circumstances, such as for employees who: work under alternative work schedules; are traveling; work from a remote location not considered telework; are on pre-approved leave; or who experience a personal hardship preventing them from arriving at the expected time. See the dismissal guide for details. Collective bargaining agreements may apply to certain agency-specific policies.
Telework and Other Flexibilities—Agencies must ensure that telework is integrated as part of the flexibilities permitted during disruption of normal operating procedures, ensure that their information technology allows large numbers of employees to telework simultaneously, ensure that employees authorized to telework practice it frequently to maintain effectiveness, and establish arrangements for employees who can telework but typically do not, at least not formally.
If it is covered in employees’ telework agreements with the agency, during weather emergency situations when the agency is closed an agency may require teleworkers to continue working at their alternative worksites, if they are able to, on their telework day or on any of their regularly scheduled workdays. Agencies do not have to designate teleworkers as emergency employees in order to require them to work during closure. However, OPM recommends that each agency anticipate this possibility in its emergency preparedness planning, discuss this with each telework employee in advance, and include such expectations in the employee’s telework agreement. Agencies also may use special hiring authorities. Guidance is in a June 25, 2012 memo to agencies at www.chcoc.gov/transmittals.
Authority for unscheduled telework is announced at the beginning of the work day. Under the options above allowing for unscheduled telework, agencies may not require employees to perform telework that was not previously scheduled. Telework is voluntary under those announcements and employees are to be given the opportunity to perform unscheduled telework, take leave, use a combination of the two, or report to the official worksite. If an employee chooses to use unscheduled telework versus report to the workplace, the employee should work the entire day.
report to the official worksite. If an employee chooses to use unscheduled telework versus report to the workplace, the employee should work the entire day.
During days with severe heat and humidity, agencies may use workplace flexibilities to reduce health risks. With supervisory approval and to prevent work disruptions, a telework-ready employee may telework from home on a day when air quality conditions are poor. Additionally, if permitted by agency policy, an employee working a flexible work schedule may choose to adjust arrival and departure times to avoid commuting during the hottest periods of the day. Employees also may request annual leave, earned compensatory time off, or credit hours on a day when severe heat and humidity are threatening to the employee’s health and welfare. Guidance is in a June 21, 2012 memo to agencies at www.chcoc.gov/transmittals.
Emergency Dismissal Procedures
The Federal Emergency Dismissal Protocol calls for the General Services Administration (GSA), the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) to consult and decide on the operating status of the government and federal buildings during an emergency. In a natural or man-made event (such as a terror incident), FEMA, GSA and OPM will convene their principals for a review of the situation. Immediate notification of changes to the operating status of the government will be relayed to key federal and local authorities, the news media, Federal Executive Boards and other outlets. The operating status of the government is at www.opm.gov.
Further, OPM may give agencies discretion to excuse employees from their duties without loss of pay or charge to leave for other reasons, such as localized flooding or power outages.
Agencies designate “emergency employees” critical to agency operations in dismissal or closure situations. In addition, agencies identify a cadre of “mission-critical emergency employees” who might be activated during emergencies involving national security, extended emergencies, or other unique situations. Emergency employees are necessary to continue agency operations in a variety of emergency situations and may be directed to report for work when the agency is closed. Dismissal procedures typically will not apply to emergency employees, unless their employing agency determines that circumstances justify excusing emergency employees from work. Agencies in the nation’s capital area follow the Washington, DC, Area Dismissal or Closure Procedures (see above) in emergency situations that require agencies to close all or part of their activities. Federal Executive Boards and Federal Executive Associations coordinate similar dismissal or closure procedures in other major metropolitan areas.
Federal agencies in buildings managed by GSA are required to establish an Occupant Emergency Plan (OEP). The OEP is a short-term emergency response program that establishes procedures for safeguarding lives and property. Within every agency’s OEP should be a component which addresses the concerns of special needs employees. If you have special needs, ask your manager about the procedures in place to help you respond to an emergency. As part of every agency’s OEP, employee volunteers are used to assist in effective evacuation and other duties during an emergency.
It is the responsibility of each agency to determine the risks faced by its employees, develop a comprehensive strategy and communicate to employees the safety procedures that are in place, based on both a safety and a threat analysis.
In instances where there is a known or suspected release of biological, chemical, or radiological agents outside an agency, authorities may strongly recommend that employees shelter-in-place. That means that rather than leave their place of work, employees will stay in their office building and wait for instructions.
Employees should familiarize themselves with the procedures that have been put into place at their agency, as well as the means of notification that an agency will use to inform and instruct employees.
It is the responsibility of each agency to assess the benefits provided by any protective equipment. These decisions are based largely on the time it takes for an agency to evacuate the building, and other information gained through a threat assessment. Employees should check with their agency’s security/safety personnel to learn the status of any protective equipment provided by their agency.
A FEMA publication at www.fema.gov/library, Emergency Preparedness for Federal Employees in the National Capital Region, contains general information on emergency procedures governmentwide as well as specific considerations for employees in the Washington, D.C. area.
Employees with Disabilities—Executive Order 13347 of 2004 ordered agencies to consider, in their emergency preparedness planning, the unique needs of agency employees with disabilities and individuals with disabilities who the agency serves. Agencies are to coordinate with other levels of government as well as with private organizations and individuals and facilitate cooperation of emergency preparedness plans as they relate to individuals with disabilities. The order established within the Department of Homeland Security the Interagency Coordinating Council on Emergency Preparedness and Individuals with Disabilities to coordinate agency activities under the order.
Emergencies that Prevent Employees from Reporting for Work
Agencies in the nation’s capital area follow the Washington, DC, Area Dismissal or Closure Procedures (see above) in emergency situations that prevent significant numbers of employees from reporting for work on time. Federal Executive Boards (see www.feb.gov) and Federal Executive Associations coordinate similar procedures in other major metropolitan areas.
Note: The following policies typically will not affect employees designated as “emergency employees” or “mission-critical emergency employees” (see above) who unless otherwise instructed are expected to report for work.
Short-Term Commuting Delays—Without prior approval from OPM, an agency may grant excused absence to employees who are prevented from reporting for work because of emergency conditions or to employees who experience unanticipated short-term commuting delays. For example, if an employee is unable to report for work due to security measures, congested roads, disruption of power and/or water, or interruption of public transportation, an agency may use its discretionary authority to excuse the affected employee from work without charge to leave or loss of pay. Excused absence may be granted only for short periods of time.
Long-Term Commuting Delays—Employees may experience delays in reaching and entering their worksites for extended periods due to emergency or hazardous situations or heightened security measures. In these situations, employees should anticipate longer, more difficult commutes and should take appropriate action to ensure that they are able to report for work on time or request annual leave, other paid time off, or leave without pay.
Employees Directed Not to Report for Work—In the event of severe hazardous conditions, disruption of public services, or other emergency situations of short duration, employees may be instructed not to report for work. If an employee is prevented from working because he or she has been instructed by the head of his or her agency or other authorized official not to report for work, the employee normally will be excused from work without loss of pay or charge to leave. Agency management also may consider use of alternative worksites, where appropriate and feasible.
Changing Employees’ Work Schedules—During emergency situations, agencies may need to change employees’ work schedules to meet mission requirements. Typically, an employee’s tour of duty must be scheduled in advance of the administrative workweek and must consist of five consecutive workdays, with the same working hours each day. However, 5 U.S.C. 6101(a)(3) permits the head of an agency to change an employee’s work schedule without regard to these requirements as long as the changes are consistent with other laws and regulations and the agency follows the negotiated collective bargaining agreement, if applicable. In addition, if the head of an agency finds that a particular alternative work schedule (AWS) has had an “adverse agency impact,” the agency must terminate the AWS under 5 U.S.C. 6131(a)(2). If the use of AWS is provided for in a collective bargaining agreement, the agency may reopen the agreement and negotiate the termination of the AWS. (See 5 U.S.C. 6131(c)(3)(A).)
Furloughs Due to Extended Emergencies
In the event of a prolonged shutdown due to severe or hazardous conditions, disruption of public services, or other emergency situations, an agency may find it necessary to furlough non-emergency employees. Such an action places an employee in a non-duty, non-pay status for the duration of the furlough.
Under 5 CFR 752, agencies must follow adverse action procedures when furloughing covered employees for 30 consecutive calendar days or less or for 22 nonconsecutive workdays or less. Under normal conditions, these regulations require an agency to give employees against whom an adverse action is to be taken at least 30 days notice and an opportunity to respond before the action is taken. However, under 5 CFR 752.404(d)(2), agencies need not follow these two requirements when an adverse action furlough is based on “unforeseeable circumstances,” such as sudden breakdowns in equipment or sudden emergencies requiring the agency to curtail activities immediately. Agencies must follow reduction-in-force procedures when furloughing employees for 31 or more consecutive calendar days, or for 23 or more nonconsecutive workdays.
Guidance regarding furloughs is at www.opm.gov/policy-data-oversight/pay-leave/furlough-guidance.
Although this guidance discusses a shutdown or emergency furlough where the agency no longer has the necessary funds to operate, it also applies in situations where employees are prevented from reporting for work due to a sudden emergency requiring the agency to curtail activities immediately.
Other Emergency Policies
Premium Pay—5 U.S.C. 5547(b) and 5 CFR 550.106 make exceptions to the biweekly premium pay limitation. When the head of an agency or his or her designee determines that an emergency posing a direct threat to life or property exists, an employee who is receiving premium pay for performing overtime work in connection with the emergency will be subject to an annual pay limitation rather than the biweekly pay limitation (with the exception of certain fixed premium payments, such as availability pay, as specified in 5 CFR 550.107). Employees paid under an annual limitation receive premium pay only to the extent that the aggregate of basic pay and premium pay for the calendar year does not exceed the greater of the annual rate for GS-15, step 10 (including any applicable special rate or locality rate), or Level V of the Executive Schedule.
Special Solicitations—OPM may grant permission for special solicitations of federal employees, outside of the Combined Federal Campaign (CFC), in support of victims in cases of emergencies and disasters. Federal employees also may contribute to local relief efforts through their participation in the CFC.
Emergency Leave Transfer—The President may direct OPM to establish an emergency leave transfer program to assist employees affected by an emergency or major disaster. The emergency leave transfer program permits employees in an executive agency to donate unused annual leave for transfer to employees of the same or other agencies who have been adversely affected by the emergency or major disaster and who need additional time off from work without having to use their own paid leave.
Hiring—Under 5 CFR 213.3102(i)(2), agencies may make 30-day appointments in the excepted service to fill a critical hiring need and may extend them for an additional 30 days. They may use this authority to fill senior level positions, as well as positions at lower grades. Career Transition Assistance Plan (CTAP), Re-Employment Priority List, and Interagency CTAP (ICTAP) requirements under 5 CFR 330 do not apply to these appointments. Agencies also may make competitive service appointments for 120 days or less without clearing CTAP or ICTAP and OPM may authorize other options upon agency request, such as temporary emergency need appointments (up to one year), SES limited emergency appointments, re-employed annuitants, and rehiring retirees or others who left the federal government with buyouts. Agencies may also use governmentwide direct-hire authorities and may request specific direct-hire authority for occupations appropriate for support of relief and recovery efforts, and OPM may authorize other options, including waivers that facilitate the re-employment of annuitants.
Telework—An agency may require its teleworkers to continue to work at their alternative worksites on their telework day or on any of their regularly scheduled workdays during emergency situations when the agency is closed. An agency would not have to designate a teleworker as an emergency employee, but any requirement that a telework employee continue to work if the agency closes on his or her telework day or on any of his or her regularly scheduled workdays should be included in the employee’s telework agreement. Also see Worksite for Location-Based Pay Purposes in Chapter 1, Section 2, and Evacuation Payments in Chapter 1, Section 4.
OPM’s Handbook on Pay and Leave Benefits for Federal Employees Affected by Severe Weather Emergencies or Other Emergency Situations, which provides a general summary of the pay and leave benefits available to federal employees prevented from working, or required to work, in an area affected by severe weather emergencies or other emergency situations, is at http://main.opm.gov/policy-data-oversight/pay-leave/leave-administration.
Office of Personnel Management guidance for federal departments and agencies as well as for individual employees on personnel practices and continuity-of-operations planning criteria related to pandemic influenza emphasizes the need to carry on the work of the government wherever possible and through whatever means available.
Policies that may be suitable include expanded telework, flexible and compressed work schedules, leave flexibilities, and alternative hiring practices, according to the guidance. In addition, it addresses issues including premium pay, insurance, employee assistance programs, retirement, and other benefits. For example, Federal Employees Health Benefits program carriers are to demonstrate flexibility including the following:
- OPM expects fee-for-service carriers to relax certain provisions such as their pre-certification requirement that the plan must be notified within two business days of an emergency admission.
- OPM expects fee-for-service carriers and HMOs to relax requirements about notification and levels of benefit payment if victims are taken to non-plan and/or non-PPO hospitals or other treatment centers.
- OPM expects all carriers to make certain FEHB members get additional supplies of medications as backup for emergency situations if necessary.
Similarly, it says that the Office of Federal Employees’ Group Life Insurance will follow special procedures in a pandemic health crisis and will expedite all life insurance claims related to the emergency.
Employees Exposed to Influenza—Supervisors should consult with their human resources office and follow any public health recommendations or medical advice offered by the employee’s physician when determining whether and when an employee should be allowed to return to work following an absence due to pandemic influenza. See Chapter 5 for information about leave policies when employees or family members are exposed to pandemic flu or other communicable diseases.
Telework—During an emergency situation, such as a pandemic health crisis, an agency may direct a telework employee to work from his or her telework site for the duration of the emergency, and the employee may be prevented from reporting at least once a week on a regular and recurring basis to the regular worksite. Under 5 CFR 531.605(d)(3) an agency may make a temporary exception to the requirement that a telework employee must report at least once a week on a regular and recurring basis to the regular worksite. An agency may make a temporary exception when the telework employee is affected by an emergency situation (such as a pandemic health crisis), which temporarily prevents him or her from commuting to the regular worksite. In such emergency situations, the employee would continue to be entitled to the locality rate for the regular worksite. Also see Worksite for Location-Based Pay Purposes in Chapter 1, Section 2.
OPM in Civilian Policy Memorandum 2009-14 (available at www.chcoc.gov/transmittals) emphasized to agencies the availability of human resources flexibilities in a pandemic. It said telework can be used in advance of any formal evacuation orders and requirements to work at home or at an alternative location and stressed the value of having prepared for and tested telework capabilities if an evacuation is ordered.
Evacuation Payments—Rules at 5 CFR 550.409 permit an agency to order its employees to evacuate from their worksites and perform work at home during a pandemic health crisis. The agency may designate an employee’s residence (or an alternative location mutually agreeable to the agency and the employee) as a safe haven and provide evacuation payments under 5 U.S.C. 5523. Evacuated employees may be assigned to perform any work considered necessary or required to be performed during the period of evacuation without regard to the grades, levels, or titles of the employees. However, the employee must have the necessary knowledge and skills to perform the assigned work. An employee’s failure or refusal to perform assigned work may be a basis for terminating evacuation payments, in addition to disciplinary action. Also see Evacuation Payments in Chapter 1, Section 4.
Special Allowances—Regulations at 5 CFR 550.409(b) permit the head of an agency, in his or her sole and exclusive discretion, to grant special allowance payments, based upon a case-by-case analysis, to offset the direct added expenses incident to performing work from home (or an alternative location mutually agreeable to the agency and the employee) during a pandemic health crisis.
For More Information—OPM guidance and other information is at www.opm.gov/policy-data-oversight/pandemic-information and in CPM 2010-02 at www.chcoc.gov/transmittals.