fedweek.com | opm proposes changes to excused absence policies

OPM has proposed rules to overhaul a variety of policies regarding when federal employees can be excused from duty with pay and without charge to another form of leave such as annual leave or sick leave.

The rules proposed in a Federal Register notice would carry out a law passed last year designed to standardize and put legal authority behind some practices that had built up over the years. That law formally authorized the practice of administrative leave (also commonly called excused absence) and also newly created “investigative leave”; “notice leave”; and “weather and safety leave.”

Under the regulations, an agency could place an employee on administrative leave for no more than 10 workdays in a calendar year. Allowable reasons would include if the absence “directly relates to the mission of the agency”; “is for an activity officially sponsored or sanctioned by the agency”; or if the agency “determines that the absence would be in the interest of the agency or the government as a whole.”

Examples include attendance at a professional meeting, to perform volunteer work related to the agency’s mission, and participation in agency-sponsored blood donation drives, health promotion and similar events.

However, an agency “may not provide a recurring entitlement to administrative leave, for example, on an employee’s birthday or on a day following a Thursday holiday.” Nor may paid time off be granted as a performance recognition award or solely for an employee to “participate in an event for his or her personal benefit or the benefit of an outside organization.”