Federal agencies, employees told to prepare for storm season

June 4, 2013

The Office of Personnel Management has told agencies to prepare for hurricanes and other weather emergencies, reminding them of telework and other special personnel policies that are available.

A memo sent to agencies on Tuesday cited the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s recent projection of “more and stronger hurricanes” in the Atlantic basin in this year’s hurricane season from June through November.

(Paul Hellstern/AP)
(Paul Hellstern/AP)

“In light of this new prediction and the devastation from the recent tornadoes in the Oklahoma City area, flooding in Arkansas, and wild fires in Washington and California, agencies need to be familiar with the wide range of human resources policies and flexibilities currently available to assist Federal employees affected by these severe weather, natural disaster, and other emergency situations.”

It cited the availability of telework “to help maintain the continuity of Government operations during emergency situations, while ensuring employee safety.” Under certain conditions agencies may require employees to work remotely even if offices are closed.

Agencies also can use special hiring authorities, including rehiring of federal retirees, to fill needs on a temporary basis and they may ask to conduct special charitable solicitations for affected employees, among other actions, the memo said.

It also said individual employees should learn how to protect themselves in severe weather emergencies.

Meanwhile, OPM has started allowing donations of annual leave to federal employees affected by the storms and tornadoes in Oklahoma, either directly or through adversely affected family members, and who need additional time off from work.

Earlier it had loosened some of the rules on benefits for affected employees, for example relaxing restrictions on reimbursement for medical treatment outside a health plan’s network.

Separately, the Air Force has excluded from upcoming furloughs any employees of Tinker Air Force Base, Okla., whose homes were destroyed or declared uninhabitable.

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Eric Yoder | June 4, 2013