Guidance Issued on Emergency Response HR Issues

OPM has issued two sets of guidance related to HR issues arising in the wake of the recent hurricanes in the Gulf Coast and Caribbean and the wildfires in California.

One relates to the emergency leave transfer program, or ELTP, authorities that OPM had authorized separately for each of three Hurricanes and the fires, allowing employees to donate annual leave to those affected personally or through a family member and who need more time off. OPM said that an agency may allow a donor to allocate donations to multiple ELTPs on one form, as long as the donor clearly states his or her intent and the donations are tracked by separate ELTPs.

Also, it said, if the leave has not yet been taken from donors’ annual leave accounts, the agency can inform donors that they have the option of changing their allocations of donated leave to other ELTPs. Other issues include solicitation of new donations, general limits on donations and waivers of those limits, donations from leave bank accounts, the return of donated leave that went unused, and more.

The other guidance relates to pay and leave policies for federal employees who volunteered to help with relief efforts. Federal employees may be covered by an annual premium pay cap in lieu of the normally applicable biweekly cap, when performing work in connection with such an emergency or its aftermath, it notes.

While saying that many agencies likely already have made determinations that the conditions meriting use of the annual cap apply, OPM designated Hurricanes Harvey, Irma, and Maria as qualifying emergencies that purpose.

“I want to express my personal appreciation to federal employees for their contributions to the hurricane relief and recovery efforts–whether by performing the duties of their regular jobs, serving as hurricane recovery volunteers, donating annual leave, making monetary donations, or other means. I also want to thank agencies for allowing certain federal employees to be away from their normal duties for this important cause. We are inspired by the sacrifices that are being made for our fellow Americans in need,” acting director Kathleen McGettigan wrote.