1996 Early Dismissal or Closure of Activity Due to Emergency Conditions

1996 Early Dismissal or Closure of Activity Due to Emergency Conditions

September 16, 1999

SUBJECT: Early Dismissal or Closure of Activity Due to Emergency Conditions

TO: Administrative Officers
AMS, APHIS, and GIPSA
Marketing and Regulatory Programs

This is an annual reminder of the policy and procedures nonemergency employees are to follow for early dismissal or closure of activities due to emergency conditions. This information applies to snow emergencies, severe icing conditions, floods, earthquakes, hurricanes, air pollution, power failures, interruptions of public transportation, and other situations in which significant numbers of employees are prevented from reporting for work on time or which require agencies to close all or part of their activities.

Designation of “Emergency Employees”

“Emergency employees” are defined as those who occupy critical positions that may be vital to public health, safety, welfare, national defense, or the operation of essential facilities or functions. At least annually, managers and supervisors should identify employees meeting this definition and notify them, in writing, of this designation. The written notification should include the requirement that as “emergency employees” they are required to report for or remain at work in emergency situations, as well as an explanation that dismissal or closure announcements do not apply to them unless they are specifically instructed otherwise. NOTE: If for any reason, a determination is made that a situation requires nonemergency employees to report for or remain at work during an emergency, procedures should also be established for notifying them individually.

Washington, D. C. Metropolitan Area inside the Capital Beltway (including MRP offices in Riverdale, Maryland):

When any emergency occurs which affects Federal employees working inside the Washington Capital Beltway, the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) makes the final decision regarding dismissal of employees and closure of executive agencies. That decision, including the time of the earliest dismissal, is communicated through the USDA Director of Human Resources Management to the MRP Human Resources (HR) Director. The MRP HR Director immediately relays this information to designated officials of AMS, APHIS, and GIPSA for dissemination within their respective agencies. OPM also provides such announcements to the media.

EMERGENCIES BEFORE THE WORKDAY BEGINS. OPM will make one of the following five announcements to the media when an emergency occurs before the workday begins (usually by 6:00 a.m.).

  1. “Federal agencies are OPEN; employees are expected to report for work on time.” Means Federal agencies will open on time, and employees are expected to report for work as scheduled.
  2. “Federal agencies are operating under an UNSCHEDULED LEAVE policy; employees may take leave without prior approval.” Means Federal agencies will open on time, but employees not designated as “emergency employees” may take annual leave or leave without pay (LWOP) without the prior approval of their supervisors. Accrued compensatory time or credit hours may be used instead of leave or LWOP, if requested. Employees should inform their supervisors of their intentions. Employees designated as “emergency employees” are expected to report for work on time.
  3. “Federal agencies are operating under an ADJUSTED HOME DEPARTURE policy. Employees are requested to leave home ## hours later than their normal departure time.” Means Federal agencies will open on time. Nonemergency employees should adjust their normal home departure time consistent with the announcement, and nonemergency employees who arrive late will be excused without loss of pay or charge to leave. For example, if an employee normally leaves for work at 7:00 a.m. and is directed to delay departure for 2 hours, the commuter would not leave for work until 9:00 .am. The employee would be granted excused absence from the time he or she normally arrives at work until the time he or she actually arrives at work. Employees designated as “emergency employees” are expected to report for work on time.
  4. “Federal agencies are operating under an ADJUSTED HOME DEPARTURE/ UNSCHEDULED LEAVE policy. Employees are requested to leave home ## hours later than their normal departure time, and employees may take leave without prior approval.” Means Federal agencies will open on time, but nonemergency employees should adjust their normal home departure time consistent with the announcement, nonemergency employees who arrive late will be excused without loss of pay or charge to leave, and employees not designated as “emergency employees” may take annual leave or LWOP without the prior approval of their supervisors. Accrued compensatory time or credit hours may be used instead of leave or LWOP, if requested. Employees should inform their supervisors of their intentions. Employees designated as “emergency employees” are expected to report for work on time.
  5. “Federal agencies are CLOSED.” Means employees not designated as “emergency employees” are excused from duty without loss of pay or charge to leave. Employees designated as “emergency employees” are expected to report for work on time.

An employee on a flexible or compressed work schedule whose day off is the same workday on which a Federal activity is closed is not entitled to another day off “in lieu of” the workday on which the Federal activity was closed. Furthermore, there is no basis for granting excused absence to such an employee on the day off.

EMERGENCIES DURING NORMAL WORK HOURS. OPM is unlikely to announce an “adjusted work dismissal” policy to permit the early dismissal of Federal employees when an emergency develops during normal work hours because the bus and subway systems would find it difficult to organize an early rush hour. However, when an “adjusted work dismissal” is authorized by OPM, employees should be dismissed relative to their normal departure times from work. For example, if a 3hour early dismissal is announced as a result of a snowstorm or hurricane, workers who normally leave their offices at 5:00 p.m. would be authorized to leave at 2:00 p.m. Workers who normally leave at 6:00 p.m. would be authorized to leave at 3:00 p.m.

Emergency Dismissal or Closure Procedures Field Locations.

Field facilities should develop their own emergency dismissal or closure plans. The offices must designate officials who will notify employees within their geographical areas of early dismissal. Decisions to excuse employees will be based on any one of the following:

  1. Federal Executive Board declares an emergency for which Federal employees will be excused;
  2. Official public announcement by local, state, or Federal authorities that travel should be avoided, or;
  3. Advice obtained from MRPHR if the decision cannot be made by any of the above.

Please distribute this information to your employees.

  1. Human Resources Desk Guide, Subchapter 4630 , Absence and Leave; OPM Washington, DC, AREA EMERGENCY DISMISSAL OR CLOSURE PROCEDURES. Internet access at : http://www.opm.gov/oca/compmemo/2000/dismissal.htm
  2. Your local Resource Management Staff;
  3. Nella Roberts, Employment and Classification Policy Branch, MRP-HR, on (301) 734-5382;
  4. Mindy Ashner/Cindy Hadlich, Leave and Compensation Unit, MRP-HRO, on (612) 370-2327 for field employees; or,
  5. Debbie Rigden, Leave and Compensation Unit, MRP-HCS, on (202) 690-3012 for headquarters employees.

Nella Roberts
Personnel Management Specialist
Employment and Classification Policy
MRPHR

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