Some federal employees in the Washington, DC area will have a four day weekend thanks to a winter storm expected to dump half a foot (or more) of snow on the city.
The Office of Personnel Management announced that DC area federal offices are closed on Monday, January 3, 2022 due to a winter storm warning.
According to the National Weather Service, a winter storm warning for Washington, DC predicts as much as 7 inches of snow and 35 MPH wind gusts:
…WINTER STORM WARNING REMAINS IN EFFECT UNTIL 4 PM EST THIS AFTERNOON…
* WHAT…Heavy snow. Total snow accumulations 5 to 10 inches, with the heaviest amounts most likely near and south of US 50.
* WHERE…The Washington Metropolitan area, portions of northern Virginia, and Washington DC.
* WHEN…Until 4 PM EST this afternoon. Rain and sleet will change to all snow between 5 AM and 8 AM this morning. The heaviest snow will be through early this afternoon.
* IMPACTS…Plan on snow covered and slippery roads, making travel difficult. The hazardous conditions will impact the morning commute.
* ADDITIONAL DETAILS…Visibility will be reduced to below one- half mile at times in heavier bands of snow.Source: National Weather Service
“Washington, DC, your morning commute [will be] just a mess. We will have some very intense snowfall coming down, and it’s going to be tough until after lunch time,” said an Accuweather forecast report.
According to OPM, non-emergency federal employees will generally be granted weather and safety leave for the time that they would have normally worked. However, teleworking employees are generally not entitled to weather and safety leave:
Non-emergency employees generally will be granted weather and safety leave for the number of hours they were scheduled to work. However, weather and safety leave will not be granted to employees who are:
- emergency employees who are required to report for duty;
- telework program participants (with certain narrow exceptions);
- on official travel outside of the duty station;
- on preapproved leave (paid or unpaid) or other paid time off; or
- on an Alternative Work Schedule (AWS) day off or other non-workday.
Emergency Employees are expected to report to their worksite unless otherwise directed by their agencies.
Telework Employees (i.e., employees who are participating in a telework program, including those who perform telework regularly and those who telework on an ad hoc basis) generally may not receive weather and safety leave. They must account for the entire workday by teleworking, taking unscheduled leave (paid or unpaid) or other paid time off, or a combination, in accordance with law, regulations, agency policies and procedures, and any applicable collective bargaining requirements (as consistent with law).
Leave. In general, an employee on preapproved leave (paid or unpaid) or other paid time off should continue to be charged leave or other paid time off and should not receive weather and safety leave.
About Weather and Safety Leave
According to OPM:
Weather and safety leave is provided at an agency’s discretion for such events related to the closure of the official Federal worksite due to natural disasters, such as: hurricanes, tornadoes, floods, wildfires, earthquakes, landslides, snowstorms, or during building specific emergencies such as a fire or power outage. While there are no specific time limitations on the amount of weather and safety leave that an agency may provide, the use of this authority should be aligned with the nature of the emergency During the period an employee is provided weather and safety leave, an agency should be planning for the return of its employees back to a work status, either at the office duty location or at an alternative location approved by the agency.
During a weather or safety-related event that affects a Federal duty station (or the surrounding commuting area), employees who participate in an agency’s telework program may still be able to telework at a designated alternative worksite (most typically the employee’s home). As long as the designated approved telework site is functional, the employee may be required to telework, or request to be absent from duty (either paid leave or leave without pay) if he/she chooses not to perform work, unless one of OPM’s regulatory exceptions permitting the use of weather and safety leave applies. Specifically, agencies may provide weather and safety leave to a telework program participant if, in the agency’s judgment, the employee could not have reasonably anticipated the severe weather or emergency and thus is not prepared to telework. (See 5 CFR 630.1605(a)(2)(i).) Additionally, agencies may provide weather and safety leave to a telework program participant if the employee is prepared to work at the telework site but is prevented from safely working there due to the severe weather or emergency situation. (See 5 CFR 630.1605(a)(2)(ii).)Handbook on Pay and Leave Benefts for Federal Employees Afected by Severe Weather Conditions or Other Emergency Situations