Recently issued rules on “weather and safety leave” taking effect tomorrow (May 10) revise policies on some, but not all, of the situations in which agencies have traditionally excused employees from work with pay and without charge to paid leave.
The rules are the first step in what is turning out to be a lengthy process of carrying out changes in law enacted in late 2016 that followed GAO and IG reports and congressional hearings into grants of administrative leave. While those investigations focused on employees being put on paid leave for extended periods while disciplinary actions were considered, Congress used the opportunity to revamp a range of policies.
The law formally created administrative leave, investigative leave, notice leave, and weather/safety leave as leave policies and set general outlines for each. However, the law left it up to OPM to issue implementing regulations to fill in the details, and that agency has finalized rules only for the last of those categories.
OPM last year issued proposed rules for the other three categories but there still is no indication of when those rules will be finalized. In addition, while the weather/safety leave rules are effective immediately, the law requires that when final rules are issued for the other forms, agencies will have a nine-month grace period to revise their internal policies.
Weather/safety leave is to be granted when an agency determines that employees cannot safely travel to and from, or perform work at, their normal worksite, a telework site, or other approved location because of severe weather or other emergency situations ranging from terrorism to building-specific problems. OPM has said that in light of the new rules, it will revise a guide to closings and dismissals for the national capital area that is used as a model elsewhere.