OPM: Agencies Should Consider Letting Employees Telework to Protect Them From Summer Heat

As the summer reaches its peak and the hot weather intensifies, the Office of Personnel Management is reminding agencies that they can allow federal workers to telework to prevent heat-related health problems.

Office of Personnel Management Acting Director Beth Cobert said in a memo released today that federal agencies should remember that they can allow federal employees to telework to help protect them from the summer heat.

“During days with severe heat and humidity, agencies are reminded of OPM’s workplace flexibilities that may be used to reduce health risks,” wrote Cobert.

She added, “With supervisory approval and to prevent work disruptions, a telework-ready employee may telework from home on a day when air quality conditions are poor.  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 hottest periods of the day.  Employees may also request annual leave, earned compensatory time off, or credit hours on a day when severe heat and humidity are threatening to the employee’s health and welfare.”

Cobert’s memo was sent on the day before extreme heat in the Washington, DC area is in the forecast for the weekend. Temperatures are expected to top 100 degrees, and the heat index could get as high as 105 degrees.

Cobert also reminded agency leaders in her memo that they need to remind their employees to drink plenty of water to stay hydrated and that it is important for agencies to have plenty of drinking water on hand to help in that regard.

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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.