OPM Reminds Agencies About Emergency Leave Transfers

An emergency leave transfer program is now available for agencies with employees impacted by hurricane Irma.

In an emergency with severe adverse effects for a substantial number of Federal employees, the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) may establish an emergency leave transfer program (ELTP). After coordinating with Federal agencies to assess the impact on employees adversely affected by Hurricane Irma in the disaster areas, OPM, in consultation with the Office of Management and Budget, has now declared that establishing an ELTP is warranted.

An emergency leave transfer program allows employees in the executive and judicial branches, or agency leave bank, to donate unused annual leave for transfer to other federal employees adversely impacted by a major disaster or emergency. The donations can be made directly or through adversely affected family members. The leave will be for employees who need additional time off from work without having to use their own paid leave.

How to Receive Additional Leave

Large scale federal programs are usually not simple or easy to implement and this is no exception. Employees who are adversely affected and want to receive extra leave through this program have to apply in writing to their employing agency. If an employee is unable to do so on their own may apply through a personal representative.

Role of an Employing Agency

Agencies with employees adversely affected by Hurricane Irma will usually determine whether, and how much, donated annual leave is needed by their employees and which of their employees have been adversely affected. An employing agency is also in the best position to facilitate the transfer of donated annual leave within an agency.

OPM has now authorized agency and department heads (or their designees) to take the following actions with regard to a leave transfer program:

“(1) Determine which employees are affected and whether, and how much, donated annual leave they need;

(2) Determine the period of time for which donated annual leave may be accepted for distribution to approved leave recipients;

(3) As appropriate, approve leave donors and/or leave recipients in their agencies;

(4) Facilitate the distribution of donated annual leave from approved leave donors or (with the concurrence of an agency leave bank board) from an agency leave bank to approved leave recipients within their agencies; and

(5) Educate adversely affected employees that, dependent on agency policy, they may request advanced annual or sick leave, as appropriate (even if they have available annual and sick leave) or leave without pay, so that they are not forced to use accrued leave before donated annual leave becomes available. This is necessary since donated annual leave may only be substituted retroactively for any period of leave without pay or advanced annual or sick leave used because of the emergency; it may not be retroactively substituted for accrued annual or sick leave used because of the emergency.”

Where to Go to Use ELTP Program and Role of OPM

An employing agency will be administering the ELTP for its affected employees. Employees wanting to donate annual leave must contact their own agencies to learn if there are any affected employees in their agency and how to donate annual leave.

Agencies should contact OPM in order to receive additional donated annual leave from other agencies if that is necessary. Based on the demand for donated leave, OPM will solicit and coordinate the transfer of donated annual leave among agencies.

OPM will notify each agency of the cumulative amount of donated annual leave to be credited for transferring to its approved emergency leave recipients. The employing agency will, in turn, determine the amount of donated annual leave to be transferred to each emergency leave recipient.

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