Federal employees already approved to telework from their homes will not be granted weather or safety leave in an emergency situation that would otherwise close government offices, according to new inclement weather and safety regulations issued by the Office of Personnel Management April 10, 2018.

“Under section 6329c(b) of the Administrative Leave Act, as reflected in OPM regulations, an agency may grant weather and safety leave only if an employee is prevented from safely traveling to or performing work at an ‘approved location’ due to an act of God, a terrorist attack, or another condition that prevents an employee or group of employees from safely traveling to or safely performing work at an approved location,” OPM Director Jeff Pon wrote in a memo on the regulation.

“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 employee approved for telework can be granted leave during an emergency situation if that employee was unable to reasonably anticipate the emergency event and therefore could not prepare to telework.

For example, an employee would have advance notice of a clearly predicted snowstorm in their area and be able to prepare, whereas an event like a terrorist attack does not offer the same advance warning.

As part of the regulations, OPM reconvened its interagency working group for dismissal and closure procedures to update those procedures to reflect the new policy. Chief human capital officers can request to have a representative from their agency participate in the working group.

Jessie Bur covers federal IT and management.

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