In response to a series of flubs during recent winter storms, federal employees in the Washington area may now leave even earlier than permitted on days the government closes early due to inclement weather.
The change “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,” the Office of Personnel Management said this week.
The policy will also be tweaked to include the word “staggered” to amplify the government’s understanding that employees begin the work day at different hours. Because many employees show up for work as early as 6 a.m. (to beat the morning and afternoon rush-hour traffic), the hope is that they’ll also leave earlier on days the government dismisses them early because of bad weather.
As anyone who drove to work in late January may recall, record-breaking traffic jams hampered attempts to get home ahead of an icy winter storm. Some commutes lasted more than 13 hours as drivers abandoned their vehicles on major thoroughfares.
Following the storms, OPM Director John Berry vowed to tweak the federal leave policy to avoid contributing to similar jams in the future.
“Our hope was that the majority would be on the road before 4 in the afternoon” on the day of the late January storm, Berry said at the time. “But the reality is with human nature being what it is, many people did not choose to take advantage of the option” to leave early.
OPM also said it will no longer require federal agencies to report on the number of workers who telework on bad weather days and plans instead to establish a way of collecting the data on a regular basis.
Agree or disagree with the decision? Will this change in policy convince you, your family members and colleagues to leave even earlier? Leave your thoughts in the comments section below.