While policies regarding dismissing federal employees from work for emergency reasons often are tweaked late in a calendar year as winter approaches, OPM has said it is making no such changes this year after issuing a major overhaul last year.

Guidance called the Governmentwide Dismissal and Closure Procedures issued last November replaced previous guidance that, while specific to the Washington, D.C. area, served as the model for policies elsewhere. It covers topics such as late arrivals or early dismissals, closing agency offices entirely, telework considerations, and more. In prior years it was common for OPM to make more minor changes.


Says an OPM memo, “Federal agencies and employees must be prepared to respond immediately to an emergency situation. OPM’s operating status announcements are most effective if each employee understands what the announcement means and how to react. Therefore, agencies should take steps to familiarize each employee with the various operating status announcements. Each agency should have in place specific procedures that are applied in conjunction with the various operating status announcements. These agency procedures will allow employees to know what is expected of them when operating status announcements are issued.”

“Employees must also understand which human resources flexibilities are available to them during specific agency operating procedures, such as unscheduled telework, unscheduled leave, leave without pay, alternative work scheduled day off, etc. In an emergency situation, timing and communication are crucial. Employees must be able to act under their own agency’s procedures when unscheduled telework or unscheduled leave are options, or when teleworking during office closures,” it says.