The Pentagon has told DoD components to limit the amount of weather and safety leave in use by civilian employees due to the pandemic, saying the need for such leave “has diminished as DoD has made investments in technology and fully utilized human resources flexibilities.”
Weather and safety leave is paid leave typically used in situations in which an employee’s workplace is fully or partially closed but at least some of the job responsibilities do not allow for telework.
Said a memo to senior leadership, “Supervisors should discuss plans to return to the workplace with employees who are on weather and safety leave or who are teleworking to some extent but who are not performing fully the essential functions of their positions. These discussions should include inquiring whether the employee needs any flexibilities or reasonable accommodations to return to the workplace.”
Management should provide accommodations needed due to a medical condition under terms of the Rehabilitation Act, it said, noting that the under the law management may require medical documentation but may not require documentation for “conditions that are obvious or already known.”
“In the limited instances where these tools are not practicable or deemed effective, components may, but are not required to, continue to provide weather and safety leave . . . The use of weather and safety leave for dependent care remains prohibited,” it added.
The extent of weather and safety leave that has been provided government-wide has not been quantified; the memo tells components to report their use of it to the Pentagon. The IRS initially used it extensively, for example, but then cut back when it recalled employees to facilities that had been closed.