Fedweek

OPM: Agencies should allow "excepted" employees who are eligible to telework more, and to permit flexible start and stop times and grant time off requests where warranted.

OPM has said that it “strongly encourages agencies to be as accommodating as possible” regarding the working schedules of employees who have remained on the job but unpaid because of the partial government shutdown.

Those “excepted” employees—now about three-fifths of the 800,000 in agencies with lapsed funding—“have the additional expense of coming to work, but are having their compensation delayed. These employees may have also lost their subsidies for childcare and transit benefits, and are generally ineligible for unemployment benefits if they are working full-time,” OPM said in a memo issued Wednesday.

It told agencies that “to the extent possible and appropriate” they should allow such employees who are telework-eligible to telework more frequently; to permit flexible start and stop times under a flexible work schedule; and to “provide employees with the ability to request time off based on their personal circumstances.”

OPM further noted that the recently enacted law guaranteeing back pay to employees who have been furloughed contained a provision allowing “excepted” employees to take leave; until now, that had not been allowed. Such requests will be subject to standard request and approval procedures and employees cannot be paid for that leave until funding is restored, OPM added.

Excepted employees also may request unpaid time off, OPM said, and in considering whether to grant the request agencies are to follow “the same principles that guide the granting of various types of paid leave during normal periods of funded operations, while keeping in mind any special work requirements for excepted employees during the lapse in appropriations.”

If unpaid leave is granted, excepted employees are to be put in furlough status for those hours—for which they are to be paid once the shutdown ends, under the recent law.

More on furlough rules for federal employees at ask.FEDweek.com