OPM: Federal Employees Should Take Day Off or Telework During Papal Visit

The Office of Personnel Management is encouraging agency leaders to give federal workers the option to telework or take the day off for the Pope’s upcoming visit to Washington, DC.

Acting director Beth F. Cobert said in a recent letter to agency leaders that federal employees should be encouraged to take the day off or telework during the Pope’s upcoming visit to Washington, DC on September 22-24.

The letter notes that there will be a variety of delays and hazards such as increased traffic, road closures, and longer wait times for trains and buses and says it would be best for agency heads to give federal workers the day off or work from home as much as possible.

A copy of the letter is included below.

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

CPM 2015-10


President Obama will welcome his Holiness Pope Francis to the Washington, DC metropolitan area on Tuesday, September 22 through Thursday, September 24.

The Federal Government in the Washington, DC, area will remain “OPEN” during these 3 days.  The U.S. Office of Personnel Management (OPM) is committed to maintaining productivity and continuity of operations during this event, while ensuring the safety of Federal employees and the public.  Due to the increase in traffic, road closures, significant detours, crowded trains and buses, longer wait times at stops and stations, and related commuting disruptions on these days, Federal employees who work in the Washington, DC, Metropolitan area should expect significant commuting delays and travel disruptions.

To help alleviate traffic congestion and minimize distraction to law enforcement and security officials, agencies are urged to permit employees to use their workplace flexibility options.  Accordingly, OPM strongly encourages agencies to allow employees to telework to keep the government operating while helping to minimize traffic congestion and support law enforcement efforts during this event.  Employees who can be spared from their duties may also request to adjust their work schedule and use their alternative work schedule day off or take annual leave, leave without pay, and /or previously earned compensatory time off or earned credit hours under a flexible work schedule.

Those employees who must commute should allow extra time going to and from work whether by private vehicle or public transportation.  Employees are encouraged to monitor local news media for announcements on street closures for vehicular and pedestrian traffic, closures or disruptions to public transportation, building closures, or any possible changes to the Washington, DC, area Federal Government operating status.  Agencies should use all the communications tools they have in place, such as hotlines and website updates, to inform employees of any relevant, agency-specific issues. Any major changes affecting Federal employees and agencies will be announced by local media.

Additional Information

Agency headquarters-level may contact OPM’s Pay and Leave office at pay-leave-policy@opm.gov.  Employees should contact their agency human resources office for further information on the workplace flexibilities available during the Pope’s visit.

cc:  Human Resources Directors

About the Author

Ian Smith is one of the co-founders of FedSmith.com. He has over 20 years of combined experience in media and government services, having worked at two government contracting firms and an online news and web development company prior to his current role at FedSmith.