Second leave transfer program authorized for California wildfire victims

Federal employees impacted by the November 2018 California wildfires will be allowed to access leave donated by their fellow feds in order to recover from the natural disaster, the Office of Personnel Management announced March 14.

This is the second time that OPM has had to authorize emergency leave transfer programs for California wildfire victims specifically, and the fourth ELTP authorized in the last six months.

“An ELTP permits employees in the executive and judicial branches, or agency leave banks established under 5 U.S.C. 6363, to donate unused annual leave for transfer to employees of the same or other agencies (or the judicial branch) who are adversely affected by a major disaster or emergency, either directly or through adversely affected family members, and who need additional time off from work without having to use their own paid leave,” acting OPM Director Margaret Weichert wrote in the memo authorizing the leave.

“Employees who are adversely affected and seek to become emergency leave recipients must apply in writing to their agencies.”

Donated leave is substituted retroactively for any leave without pay or advanced annual and sick leave used by employees because of the emergency.

November saw two major wildfires impact California — the Woolsey and Camp fires — which collectively resulted in the deaths of nearly 90 civilians and over 250,000 acres burned.

Natural disasters occurring in 2017 caused the greatest need for emergency leave programs, with five ELTPs established for the two sets of California wildfires and for Hurricanes Harvey, Irma and Maria.

Federal agency heads are authorized to determine how much leave is needed, approve donors and recipients of leave, facilitate the distribution of donated leave and educate their adversely impacted employees on the availability and use of donated leave.

“Agencies should contact OPM for assistance in receiving additional donated annual leave from other agencies only if they do not receive sufficient amounts of donated annual leave to meet the needs of emergency leave recipients within the agency,” Weichert wrote.

“Based on the demand for donated leave, OPM will solicit and coordinate the transfer of donated annual leave among federal agencies.”

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