Federal employees who need extra time off to deal with the impacts of Hurricane Ida may be able to access leave donated by their coworkers, under an emergency leave transfer program authorized Sept. 3 by the Office of Personnel Management.
Ida made landfall in Louisiana Aug. 29, moving toward the northeast coast and producing severe weather conditions in areas including New York and New Jersey.
ELTPs may be established when a significant number of federal employees have been affected by a major disaster or emergency as declared by the president. The programs enable non-impacted employees to contribute unused annual leave to a bank maintained by the agency.
Employees impacted by the disaster can then apply to the agency, either in writing or through their leave representative, to access a certain amount of that leave while dealing with the effects of the emergency.
If an agency’s ELTP applications exceed the amount of leave in the donation bank after several internal calls for leave donations, agency leaders can apply to OPM to access additional donated leave from other agencies. This option can be useful for agencies that may have a significant percentage of employees impacted by a disaster.
Agency and department heads, or those they designate, are responsible for approving leave donations and distributions.
OPM encouraged agencies to consider other work and leave flexibilities, as the U.S. hits the height of hurricane season.
Agencies may authorize more widespread telework to keep employees from needing to travel through hazardous areas.
Weather and safety leave may be granted to employees who cannot safely get to the usual worksite due to a severe weather or emergency situation and cannot safely telework from their approved telework location. This type of leave can be useful for areas where the hurricane has made both homes and worksites in the area unsafe, and employees may have had to evacuate or shelter in place without the capabilities for remote work.
Employees ordered to evacuate due to a severe weather or an emergency situation may also be granted advance payments, continuation of pay, and payments for travel and subsistence expenses, at the discretion of the agency head. Employees must be able to confirm that they were ordered to evacuate as a result of the emergency.
The entire states of Louisiana, Mississippi and New Jersey were under an emergency declaration for Hurricane Ida, according to the Federal Emergency Management Agency. Bronx, Dutchess, Kings, Nassau, New York, Orange, Putnam, Queens, Richmond, Rockland, Suffolk, Sullivan, Ulster and Westchester counties of New York were also designated as disaster areas.
Jessie Bur covers the federal workforce and the changes most likely to impact government employees.