Hurricane-impacted feds to receive emergency leave flexibility

Hurricane Dorian devastated parts of the U.S. and Caribbean in late August 2019, with approximately 3,163 federal employees impacted by the storm, according to the Office of Personnel Management.

Those employees still recovering from the aftermath and unable to return to work will now be able to look to their fellow feds for assistance, as OPM authorized an emergency leave transfer program Sept. 27 for those hit by the hurricane.

“Issuing an ELTP is how OPM can support our colleagues that found themselves in harm’s way,” said OPM Director Dale Cabaniss in a news release. “We will continue to monitor the situation of the agencies affected and issue guidance as necessary to help those caught by Hurricane Dorian’s devastation.”

An ELTP enables federal employees to donate their unused annual leave to a bank that can be distributed to their fellow feds that have been impacted by a natural disaster or other extreme event that keeps them from returning to work. Such leave is donated retroactively, meaning that impacted feds have already had to take leave without pay or advanced leave before the donated leave becomes available to them.

According to OPM, the Departments of Homeland Security, Justice, Housing and Urban Development and Veteran’s Affairs all requested the establishment of an ELTP on behalf of their employees.

“Agencies are responsible for administering the ELTP for their own affected employees. Therefore, employees who wish to donate annual leave must contact their own agencies, not OPM, to determine if there are any affected employees in their agency and how to donate annual leave to them,” the OPM memo to agency heads on the ELTP establishment said.

“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.”

Agency heads are responsible for approving leave donors and recipients and determining how long such donations will be accepted.

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