The Washington Post

Sandy triggers new policies on leave sharing, health insurance

The government is continuing to expand benefits policies in the wake of Hurricane Sandy, clearing the way for certain emergency relief employees to be eligible for federal health insurance and soliciting donations of leave for affected federal workers.

The Office of Personnel Management plans to publish on Wednesday rules effective immediately making relief workers who are hired on an intermittent basis by agencies such as the Federal Emergency Management Agency eligible under the Federal Employees Health Benefits Program.

Such employees often work in conditions that may expose them to various environmental hazards, OPM said, noting that earlier this year it had expanded eligibility to those who work for the government on a temporary basis to fight wildland fires.

Agencies that employ the workers will first have to ask OPM to cover their disaster relief employees, however, and OPM said it may limit coverage to when those workers are actually employed by the government.

Separately, President Obama has issued a memo allowing federal employees to donate days of annual leave to leave banks, making that time available to be used by federal workers personally affected by Hurricane Sandy. Employing agencies are to decide details of the leave-sharing.

OPM previously put in place special benefit policies for affected employees and authorized a charitable solicitation in the federal workplace for disaster relief.


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