HR: Weather and Safety Leave

What You Need to Know

Weather and safety leave is a new type of leave that may be granted when employees are prevented from safely traveling to or safely performing work at their normal worksite, a telework site, or other approved location due to:

  1. An act of God (severe snowstorm, wildfire, tornado, etc.);
  2. A terrorist attack; or
  3. Another condition that prevents an employee or group of employees from safely traveling to or safely performing work at an approved location (power outage, building fire, etc.).

Weather and safety leave must be recorded on your Time & Attendance Record (T&A) using the correct Transaction Code (TC) and Descriptor Code (DC). Approved weather and safety leave must be coded as DC-34, TC-66. There is no limit to the amount of weather and safety leave hours an employee may receive in a calendar year.

Note: The agency is currently negotiating with the National Federation of Federal Employees over the impact of the new Weather and Safety Leave law on their represented units. However, the statute and regulations on Weather and Safety Leave are in effect for all employees.

Weather and Safety Leave for Telework-Ready Employees:

Under the Office of Personnel Management’s (OPM) weather and safety leave regulations, when a closure is announced, all telework program participants (scheduled and unscheduled) must telework or take unscheduled leave (or a combination of both) and may not be granted weather and safety leave, unless one of the following exceptions applies:

  • Unexpected Weather: An agency may provide weather and safety leave to a telework-ready employee who, in the agency’s judgment, could not have reasonably anticipated the severe weather or other emergency condition and so did not take home needed equipment or work. For example, a weather forecast changes dramatically during the weekend so an employee cannot reasonably be expected to telework on Monday.
  • Unsafe Telework Site: An agency may provide weather and safety leave to a telework-ready employee who is prevented from safely working at home or other approved telework site due to the impact of extreme weather (such as flooding or severe structural damage) or other emergency event. In this case, the home or other approved telework site is also impacted in such a way that work cannot be safely performed.

Agencies are not able to provide weather and safety leave (previously known as administrative leave or excused absence) to a telework program participant who is not prevented from working safely at an approved telework site. Such employees will not be provided weather and safety leave as they are not prevented from performing work at an approved location. (See 5 U.S.C. 6329c(b) and 5 CF  R 630.1605(a)(1).

Officials Authorized to Grant Weather and Safety Leave

Regional foresters, deputy regional foresters, forest supervisors, Washington Office (WO) staff directors, Job Corps Center directors, resource project leaders and program managers, and district rangers have the authority to close a Forest Service office and grant up to 40 consecutive hours of weather and safety leave due to extreme weather or other emergency situation. Refer to the Forest Service Manual - 6100 for delegations of authority to close an office for up to 5 days.

Only regional foresters, deputy regional foresters, and WO staff directors have the authority to grant weather and safety leave for employees personally impacted by a public emergency (in accordance with 5 U.S.C. 6329c and 5 CFR Part 630, Subpart P). The amount of weather and safety leave they may grant is unlimited and up to their discretion based on the emergency situation.

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