Update: OPM issued formal guidance on April 29, 2021 for federal employees on how to use the COVID emergency paid leave benefit.
A new memo just released by the Postal Service offers some insight as to how the new COVID-19 emergency paid leave program for federal employees that was just signed into law will work in practice.
According to the memo which was published by the National Postal Mail Handlers Union, the Office of Personnel Management is tasked with creating the requirements for implementing the new paid leave policy for federal employees under the American Rescue Plan Act as it often is in these situations. Until that happens, “…the Postal Service is limited in its ability to fully implement EFEL [Emergency Federal Employee Leave] at this time,” according to the memo.
This is key because the situation is likely to be similar at other agencies.
However, the Postal Service also notes in its memo that Postal employees may still submit requests for leave under the new EFEL policy. It states:
…supervisors and managers are only authorized to conditionally approve such leave requests for periods of up to two weeks: up to 80 hours for full-time employees and a proportional amount for part-time flexible (PTF) and non-career employees who do not have a 40-hour a week schedule.
The memo notes that EFEL leave requests from Postal employees must meet qualifying reasons previously outlined by the Postal Service. It also cautions supervisors and employees that “additional requirements, including but not limited to producing appropriate documentation to support their [employees] need for leave, are likely to be imposed once we receive official guidance from OPM.”
Federal employees who are anxiously awaiting the new leave benefit probably won’t have to wait long, however. The Postal Service said in the memo that it expects guidance to be issued by OPM on the new leave program before the end of March.
Update: The Postal Service has released another announcement in which OPM said it does not expect its official guidance to come out by April 1 as previously anticipated.
Federal employees with questions about how to use the new emergency paid leave policy should contact their local human resources offices for assistance. Once OPM publishes its guidance on implementing the new leave program, we will share the information with our readers.
Up to 15 weeks of paid leave for federal employees are provided by the new emergency paid leave benefit. For additional details, see COVID Stimulus Bill Includes 15 Weeks of Paid Leave for Federal Employees.