Record cold temperatures not seen in years are spreading across the United States, causing disruptions in travel and a host of other problems.
OPM Director Katherine Archuleta said in a recent memo to agency heads that they should consider using telework to protect the safety of their employees as the cold weather moves across the country.
“During days with extremely cold temperatures, agencies are reminded of OPM’s workplace flexibilities that may be used to reduce health risks, address family needs, and promote continuity of operations,” according to the memo. “With supervisory approval, a telework-ready employee may telework from home to avoid frigid weather conditions. Additionally, if permitted by agency policy, an employee working a flexible work schedule may choose to adjust arrival and departure times to avoid commuting during the coldest periods of the day.”
The full memo follows below.
From: Katherine Archuleta, Director
Subject: Coping with Extremely Cold Weather
The U.S. Office of Personnel Management reminds Federal agencies of the workplace flexibilities available to employees, as an arctic air mass is projected to bring dangerously low temperatures and wind chill values into the Washington, DC, metropolitan area over the next few days. As we prepare to experience the coldest temperatures since 1994, agencies should be proactive in protecting the health and well-being of our employees and take all available steps to ensure they are protected during potentially dangerous frigid weather conditions.
During days with extremely cold temperatures, agencies are reminded of OPM’s workplace flexibilities that may be used to reduce health risks, address family needs, and promote continuity of operations. With supervisory approval, a telework-ready employee may telework from home to avoid frigid weather conditions. Additionally, if permitted by agency policy, an employee working a flexible work schedule may choose to adjust arrival and departure times to avoid commuting during the coldest periods of the day. Employees also may request annual leave, earned compensatory time off, or credit hours on a day when extreme cold weather threatens the employee’s health and welfare. The following links provide additional information on workplace flexibilities:
- Telework: www.telework.gov
- Work Scheduling: www.opm.gov/oca/worksch/index.asp
- Leave: www.opm.gov/oca/leave
Finally, various Federal health authorities and local governments provide information and advice on the best ways to cope with dangerously cold weather conditions to protect ourselves and our families. The following links to official Federal Government information dealing with cold weather risks may be helpful:
- http://www.bt.cdc.gov/disasters/winter/guide.asp – “Extreme Cold: A Prevention Guide to Promote Your Personal Health and Safety” and http://emergency.cdc.gov/disasters/winter/ – “Winter Weather”, on the website for Emergency Preparedness and Response, which is part Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Department of Health and Human Health Services.
- http://www.nws.noaa.gov/om/winter/index.shtml – on the website for National Weather Service (NWS), which is part of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), Department of Commerce.
- http://www.weather.gov/lwx/ – forecast for the Washington/Baltimore area on the website for the National Weather Service. Forecasts for other areas may also be accessed from this site.
- https://www.osha.gov/as/opa/cold_weather_prep.html – on the website for the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), Department of Labor.
Agency headquarters-level human resources offices may contact OPM at firstname.lastname@example.org. Employees should contact their agency human resources office for further information on this memo.