OPM updates unscheduled telework option

Employees can now request to leave earlier than designated departure time

The Office of Personnel Management is updating its dismissal and closure procedures for the Washington, D.C., area after January’s snowstorm commute – dubbed “Commutageddon” – that left some people stranded on the road for up to 13 hours.

Now, when OPM announces an early departure, employees will be able to request unscheduled leave or unscheduled telework before their individually staggered early departure times, according to an OPM memo sent to agency heads March 3.

Related story:

OPM: Discuss telework options before weather hits

“The revised announcement is not a change in policy but is simply meant to highlight that employees have the option to request unscheduled leave or unscheduled telework if they wish to leave prior to their designated early departure times,” OPM Director John Berry said. 

Berry acknowledged that some agencies are having difficulty implementing their unscheduled telework policies, and he said OPM will work with these agencies to “better understand their concerns and lessons learned during this year’s snow season.”

“OPM understands that it will take time to migrate towards incorporating unscheduled telework into their emergency policies, and we strongly encourage agencies to allow as many employees as possible to telework when unscheduled telework is announced,” Berry added.

OPM has also decided to suspend the short-term collection of telework data when certain status announcements are made for the area and move toward a long-term approach. To implement this change, OPM plans to collaborate with agencies and their payroll offices to establish the collection of telework data through its Enterprise Human Resources Integration system, according to the memo. 

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Alyah Khan is a staff writer covering IT policy.

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Reader comments

Wed, Mar 23, 2011

I was one of those employees who got stranded in the snow for over 4 hrs getting home at 9:00 PM after having a few almost accidents on the way. I was being charged AL because I did not telework the next day: my non-AWS day (office was closed due to road conditions) because I did not feel well after prior day's experience. I was charged AL but after fighting my case, I was granted the Admin leave I was requesting & felt should have been given.

Sun, Mar 13, 2011 Terese VA

I think it is so funny how these contractors are stating they do the work and the Federal Government Employees take the credit - that may be in some cases but it is not the norm - credit is given to the PM (the government rep) and the contractors - but the contractors do not get "CREDIT" as in cash awards, etc. - BECAUSE THEY ARE NOT FEDERAL EMPLOYEES THEY ARE CONTRACTORS - TALK TO YOUR EMPLOYER IF YOU WANT CREDIT!!!!!

Fri, Mar 11, 2011 Mark Arnold

Not repeating below, but same here. The issue now is that OPM decides to not give us time, and throws it to the employee to fight for Telework. The managers don't give it, and instead of being safe and leaving early the employees get stuck in 9 hours of traffic because we would have to use our own leave instead. This is not a solution and puts people at risk for getting hurt. Either you have to go back to mandating administrative leave or mandates Telework for emergency situations for non-emergency employees. Because this "change" basically throws the employees who don't have choice to the wolves.

Tue, Mar 8, 2011

Where I work I brought up the subject of Telework and my manager went into an in depth discussion as to why I couldn't telework which is probably based against old SOP citing that a previous employee 5 years ago tried to telework, which ended up with OSHA inspection and a huge stack of paperwork that my manager also showed me.

Mon, Mar 7, 2011 EricE

Yup, for most agencies it's more of a management unwillingness to embrace telework than a technical or policy issue. Luckily my management chain embraces telework, but I know I am in the minority!

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