OPM to Stagger Departure Times When Snow Strikes

Photo: www.nowpublic.com

Winter weather is surely coming and just before it, the Office of Personnel Management, in an effort to avoid similar happenings of the January snowstorm that trapped commuters, has put out its updated Washington Area Dismissal and Closure Procedures.

Office of Personnel Management Director John Berry said in a video accompanying the procedure release that they are aiming to “spread traffic” and “avoid gridlock” with the amended guidelines.

He also said that OPM wants to avoid bringing workers into the city in the first place in inclement weather or disaster.

The amendments include staggered departure, shelter-in-place and immediate departure and defines how telework policies will work when the time comes.

OPM will use the staggered early departure notice when federal workers need to leave earlier than normal. Staggered early departure also has a final departure time option, which makes workers leave by a specified time.

Immediate departure is another measure that will only be used in extreme circumstances. The shelter-in-place option will be used in situations where the safest choice is not necessarily getting into a car, such as tornadoes.

Federal News Radio breaks down the stagger departure rules as following:

  • Employees who leave at their staggered departure time will be granted excused absence.
  • Employees who leave before their staggered departure time must take unscheduled leave and will not be granted excused absence.
  • Unscheduled telework will no longer be used for early departures, as mentioned in the video where Berry said the goal is not have workers come into the city at all, if possible.

The policy guidelines indicate that agencies should specify whether employees are expected or permitted to telwork during emergencies and also encourages agencies, “to permit telework-ready employees to use unscheduled telework on any day OPM makes an unscheduled telework announcement.”

OPM’s guidelines apply to federal employees with offices inside the Beltway. They do not apply to employees of the Postal Service, the legislative branch, judicial branch, D.C. government or private sector entities, including contractors.

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