In a memo released this week to heads of executive departments and agencies, OPM director John Berry urged agencies to work towards having a more comprehensive telework policy that utilizes OPM’s recently updated inclement weather policy.
OPM updated its weather closure procedures this week in which it announced revisions to its operating status messages and added a new policy instructing employees to stay off of the roads in poor weather conditions.
Berry’s memo follows on the heels of these changes, stressing telework policy changes in particular.
The memo states:
When Federal offices are closed, OPM’s operating status announcement requires that two types of telework-ready employees will perform work: (1) employees already scheduled to perform telework on the effective day of the announcement and (2) employees required to perform telework according to their written telework agreement when the Federal Government is closed. However, there is a third category of teleworkers – (3) those who are telework-ready but are neither scheduled to work on the day of an OPM closure announcement or required to work on that day according to their written telework agreements. Currently, group (3) may be the largest category of telework employees. OPM urges that agencies migrate towards a more comprehensive telework policy by incorporating group (3) employees into group (2) (i.e., employees required to perform telework when the Federal Government is closed). Note that written telework agreements, consistent with agency policies and subject to any collective bargaining agreements, must be in place before requiring telework for both (1) and (2).
Berry also reminds agency leaders to follow OPM’s closure directives in the event of wide ranging disruptions, such as severe weather:
In the event of area-wide work disruptions, agencies should avoid independent action because changes in the commuting hours of Federal employees can result in dramatic disruption of the highway and mass transit systems. Following OPM’s announcements and policies will allow for coordination with municipal and regional officials, and will reduce disruption of the highway and transit systems. This will both reduce traffic congestion and ensure that affected employees are treated as consistently as possible.