The Office of Personnel Management announced Oct. 2 that federal employees impacted by the wildfires in California may be eligible for an emergency leave transfer program.

“After coordinating with federal agencies to assess the impact on employees adversely affected by the California wildfires in the disaster areas, OPM, in consultation with [the Office of Management and Budget], has determined that the establishment of an ELTP is warranted,” OPM Director Jeff Pon wrote in a memo sent to agency heads.

“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.”

The ELTP authorization means that agency and department heads can take five actions:

  1. Determine which employees have been adversely affected and how much donated leave they need;
  2. Determine the acceptable period of time during which donated leave may be distributed;
  3. Approve leave donors and recipients within their own agencies;
  4. Facilitate the distribution of donated leave from an agency leave bank; and
  5. Educate employees about how they can request advanced annual or sick leave, as appropriate, or leave without pay.

“This is necessary since donated annual leave may only be substituted retroactively for any period of leave without pay or advanced annual or sick leave used because of the emergency; it may not be retroactively substituted for accrued annual or sick leave used because of the emergency,” Pon wrote.

Agencies can request receipt of additional donated leave from other agencies, only if the leave donated from their own personnel is not enough to cover the needs of employees impacted by the wildfires.

“OPM will notify each agency of the cumulative amount of donated annual leave that will be credited to it for transfer to its approved emergency leave recipients. The agency will determine the amount of donated annual leave to be transferred to each emergency leave recipient,” Pon wrote.

President Donald Trump approved a major disaster declaration for California Aug. 5, 2018, with Lake and Shasta counties in the state approved for individual assistance funding.