After first setting and then temporarily delaying an effective date, OPM has set May 10 for the beginning of a new form of paid leave called weather and safety leave, to be used in situations in which agencies traditionally used administrative leave.

The new policies cover situations such as severe weather that make it hazardous for employees to travel to and from work and situations making it dangerous to be in a building, such as burst pipes.


The rules are the first of what are to be several sets of new policies under a 2016 change in law addressing administrative leave (also called excused absence). Before that change, agencies commonly used administrative leave for a variety of situations to dismiss employees from work, with pay but without charge to their paid leave, under their general authority to manage their workplaces–even though there was no specific formal authority in law.

The 2016 law formally created administrative leave while specifying that it primarily is to be used when the agency considers the absence to be in its interests. That law also created weather and safety leave; investigative leave for when an agency is looking into workplace conduct that could result in substantial discipline; and notice leave for the time an employee has to respond within an agency to a disciplinary notice before the effective date.

The weather/safety leave rules are the first of those categories to take effect. Rules for administrative leave, investigative leave and notice leave were proposed last year but have not been finalized. The OPM memo reiterated that those rules are upcoming but did not indicate when.