OPM announces new regulations for weather-related leave

New weather and safety leave regulations from the Office of Personnel Management are cutting off teleworkers in most instances.

The regulations, announced announced Tuesday, said that employees who participate in a telework program will usually not be granted weather and safety leave.

“Because employees who are participating in a telework program under applicable agency policies are typically able to safely perform work at their approved locations (e.g., their homes), such an employee will generally not be granted weather and safety leave,” the announcement said.

Under the Administrative Leave Act of 2016, agencies may grant weather and safety leave due to an “act of God”, a terrorist attack or other emergency condition which prevents employees from safely traveling to or performing work at the office or other work site. In an attempt to restrict leave permissions — which Congress determined to be too broad and overused — the legislation broke OPM’s leave permissions into three primary categories: Administrative, investigative and notice, and weather and safety.

The new regulations take effect May 10 — 30 days from the time of publication — according to the Federal Register. An exception is if the agency determines a teleworking employee could not “reasonably have anticipated” the disruptive conditions and could not prepare to telework productively.

OPM also said it expected a delay in the enforcement of agencies reporting weather and safety leave separately from other administrative leave until 270 days after the regulations were published.

Interagency working group to reconvene

OPM also announced its interagency working group for dismissal and closing procedures would reconvene to update the agency’s “Washington, DC, Area Dismissal and Closure Procedures.”

OPM made no changes to these guidelines so far this year. But Tuesday’s announcement said the working group will help incorporate the new weather and safety leave regulations into the closure procedures for D.C. area employees.

Currently the procedures promote incorporating telework into agencies’ emergency plans and likewise recommend taking steps to ensure those employees can access IT systems and networks without posing cybersecurity risks.