Federal Manager's Daily Report

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An inspector general audit has again called for more training of EPA supervisors and employees on compensatory time off for religious observances, saying that recommendation from a prior review has not been carried out, “which could result in misuse or abuse of the authority and create an unplanned monetary liability for the EPA.”

Government-wide rules create a presumption that federal employees are to be allowed to adjust their work schedules for religious observances unless the agency documents that the change would cause a hardship to its operations. Employees are to work additional time to make up for that time within 13 pay periods before to 13 after the absence.

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A 2016 IG report identified weaknesses in the EPA’s controls over that program; the new report said the EPA had carried out two of those as promised but is still falling short regarding a recommendation for more training. It said the EPA provided training to regional and program office HR communities but not to employees and to approving officials as recommended.

In a look at 10 employees who had used religious comp time, it found that in seven cases “the policy and procedures in effect at the time were not followed by either the employee or the supervisor.” Issues included one case of an employee accumulating more time in advance than was needed, one of an employee accumulating hours before even requesting the arrangement and one of a supervisor approving requests without documenting the dates, time and purpose.

The IG said it considered the agency’s commitment to conduct such training to be responsive to its new recommendation.

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