Teleworking to Stay Out of the Cold

By on January 6, 2014 in Current Events with 15 Comments

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:

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:

Additional Information

Agency headquarters-level human resources offices may contact OPM at pay-leave-policy@opm.gov.  Employees should contact their agency human resources office for further information on this memo.

© 2016 Ian Smith. All rights reserved. This article may not be reproduced without express written consent from Ian Smith.

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Ian Smith is one of the co-founders of FedSmith.com. He enjoys writing about current topics that affect the federal workforce. Ian also has a background in web development and does the technical work for the FedSmith.com web site and its sibling sites.

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