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After Metro Crash, OPM Encourages Teleworking

By Ed O'Keefe



The deadly Metro crash will make today's Washington-are commute a challenge. (Photo by Hans Charles/Post)

The Office of Personnel Management has strongly urged federal managers to allow employees to telework from home today to avoid delays on Metro following last night's deadly crash. Federal government offices in Washington, D.C. will however open on time and operate under normal operating status today.

"To the extent possible, managers are encouraged to allow employees on alternate work schedules to reschedule their day off," according to an OPM statement sent early this morning. "Managers are encouraged to allow up to 2 hours of excused absence to account for travel delays."

The Obama administration has tasked OPM in recent months with developing new government-wide teleworking guidelines, as Congress considers legislation making the practice easier.

Sixty percent of federal agencies have integrated telework into "continuity of operations" emergency planning, according to OPM, but just 7.6 percent of those employees eligible to telecommute did so in 2007. Today will certainly test those emergency plans.

Federal workers unions and OPM recently cited the swine flu pandemic as an example of an emergency situation where federal employees should have a teleworking option. Though it seemed like a far-fetched reason at the time, certainly a deadly Metro crash along the busy Washington commuter lines will be cited as another good reason for the policy. The crash will cause ripple delays across the system, making it difficult for federal employees in Suburban Maryland to reach federal office buildings in downtown Washington, at the Pentagon or other locations and equally challenging for workers trying to reach federal buildings in Suitland and other parts of Maryland.

As a reminder, the federal government grants ten work holidays per year to federal employees, and follows a strict five-part criteria for closing Washington-area offices.

For continuous updates to today's Washington-area commute, please read The Post's Get There blog.

Read the full statement from OPM below:

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STATEMENT FROM THE U.S. OFFICE OF PERSONNEL MANAGEMENT
Work Schedule for Federal Employees in the Washington, D.C. Area for Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Washington, D.C. -- Federal offices in the Washington, D.C. area will open on time Tuesday, June 23. Workplace flexibilities exist for managers to accommodate employees whose commutes are adversely affected by yesterday’s derailment on Metro’s Red Line.

Federal managers are encouraged to allow employees with approved telework agreements to work at home. To the extent possible, managers are encouraged to allow employees on alternate work schedules to reschedule their day off. Managers are encouraged to allow up to 2 hours of excused absence to account for travel delays.

By Ed O'Keefe  | June 23, 2009; 6:20 AM ET
Categories:  Workplace Issues  
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