Emergency leave authorized for natural disaster-impacted feds

The Office of Personnel Management has authorized an emergency leave transfer program for federal employees impacted by Hurricane Laura, which struck the coast of Louisiana in late August this year, and by the California wildfires.

“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 Michael Rigas wrote in an Oct. 7 memo to agency head.

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

According to OPM personnel data, just under 20,000 federal employees work in Louisiana and over 143,000 work in California, though not all of those employees would have been seriously impacted by the storm or wildfires.

Though OPM authorizes an ELTP for each emergency that could have an impact on a large number of feds, it is up to agency heads to determine which employees were impacted, how much donated leave they need, how long to accept leave donations and how best to notify impacted employees of the availability of donated leave.

“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,” Rigas wrote.

“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. 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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