Change in Leave Policy for Government Closure in Washington Metro Area

There is a change to the procedures for the closing of federal offices in the Washington, DC area. Providing an excused absence for employees on pre-approved leave will no longer be automatic.

The Office of Personnel Management (OPM) has updated the dismissal and emergency procedures for the Washington, DC area. Although these procedures are usually issued in the winter, the announcements are applicable for any emergency or special event that causes a disruption inside the “Washington Capital Beltway.”

OPM is making one change with regard to charging pre-approved paid leave on a day when federal offices are closed. This change is being made because unscheduled telework has become more common among federal agencies as a result of the Telework Enhancement Act of 2010. That law requires that all agencies incorporate telework into their Continuity of Operations Plans (COOP).  To support continuity of operations on any day when federal offices are closed, OPM’s is attempting to maximize the use of telework for both essential and nonessential functions.

Previously, when federal offices were closed, most agency operations were shut down, and the day of closure was considered a non-workday for affected employees. On a non-workday, the employee’s pre-approved leave was cancelled and the employees would have received excused absence, since the office closure was viewed as preventing the employee from working.

As agencies have established their telework policies and incorporated them into their continuity of operation plans, and as more employees have continued to work when federal offices are closed, the justification providing an excused absence to employees who were on pre-approved paid leave is now obsolete, according to OPM, since agency operations often continue even when federal buildings/facilities) are closed. Therefore,  OPM’s Federal closure announcement procedures will no longer advise agencies to cancel an employee’s pre-approved paid leave and automatically grant the employee excused absence on a day when federal offices are closed.

Government Closure Procedures

About the Author

Ralph Smith has several decades of experience working with federal human resources issues. He has written extensively on a full range of human resources topics in books and newsletters and is a co-founder of two companies and several newsletters on federal human resources. Follow Ralph on Twitter: @RalphSmith47