OPM Issues Guidance on Multiple Emergency Leave Transfer Programs

OPM recently established four emergency leave transfer programs. This can be confusing for employees and agencies, so OPM has also issued administrative guidance.

The Office of Personnel Management recently established four emergency leave transfer programs (ELTP) in response to recent events. Given the unusual nature of having for simultaneous ELTPs in effect, it has issued corresponding guidance to federal agencies on how to manage these programs.

The ELTPs were put in place in response to Hurricanes Irma, Maria, Harvey and also the wildfires in California.

What is an ELTP?

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 that certainly is the case with four running simultaneously. Employees who are adversely affected and want to receive extra leave through this program have to apply in writing to their employing agency. Employees may do so through a personal representative if unable to do so on their own.

Role of an Employing Agency

Agencies with employees adversely affected by one of the disasters for which an ELTP is established 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.

Guidance from OPM on Multiple ELTPs

Under the ELTP statute at 5 U.S.C. 6391(b), an ELTP must be established for a specific disaster or emergency, and employees’ donations of annual leave must be directed to a specific, established ELTP.

While donated annual leave cannot be combined into one overarching ELTP for distribution to an agency’s emergency leave recipients, OPM said it is providing guidance on the administration of the multiple ELTPs that agencies may consider in order to provide the maximum assistance to their affected employees.  This guidance applies not only to the current situation where there are three concurrent ELTPs, but would also apply to any future situation where there are concurrent ELTPs. It contains examples of how leave donations work and how employees can designate donations to go to their ELTP of choice.

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.