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Unscheduled Leave for Federal Workers on Friday

By Ed O'Keefe

Updated 2:49 p.m. ET

Federal offices in the Washington area will operate with unscheduled leave status on Friday as a major snowstorm nears the nation's capital.

The policy means federal workers in the D.C. area who cannot report for work on Friday due to the weather can request unscheduled time off for the entire workday. Workers must notify their supervisor of the decision. Emergency employees must report regardless of the weather.

Office of Personnel Management officials did not rule out the possibility that the agency might also issue an early dismissal on Friday for employees that show up for work, dependent on the forecast.

OPM also declared unscheduled leave on Wednesday, but stayed open on Monday following the weekend snowfall.

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By Ed O'Keefe  | February 4, 2010; 1:47 PM ET
Categories:  Workplace Issues  
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Comments

Do the Feds who telecommute have to work? They should. If not, why not?

Posted by: RUinVA | February 4, 2010 1:56 PM | Report abuse

The global warmists should have telecommuted to Copenhagen. Did they? No. Why not? ? ?

Posted by: ItsOver2 | February 4, 2010 1:58 PM | Report abuse

So basically the Fed is making everyone take a day of PTO.

Posted by: SA-Town | February 4, 2010 1:59 PM | Report abuse

Yes, telecommuters have to work. Unless they want to take a day of leave, which I can't really imagine. It's not a paid day off (yet).

Posted by: NoVA23 | February 4, 2010 2:02 PM | Report abuse

seriously...they need another level of closing the govt "unscheduled telecommute"

Posted by: mediajunky | February 4, 2010 2:03 PM | Report abuse

" . . . also declared unscheduled leave on Monday."
Do you mean yesterday - Wednesday?

Posted by: EinDC | February 4, 2010 2:03 PM | Report abuse

Snow is awesome.

Posted by: 123cartoon | February 4, 2010 2:03 PM | Report abuse

Such nonsense. If snow is predicted to be a major hazard to travel, Washington DC should be smart enough to tell people to stay off the roads.

Period.

Real people, government workers, everybody.

Okay, maybe some of us can figure out how to get into work. That leaves figuring out how to get home, now, doesn't it?

Good afternoon and good luck, fellow travelers.

The VRE will be a joy tomorrow.

Posted by: Rick74 | February 4, 2010 2:05 PM | Report abuse

EidDC - they mean they declared unscheduled leave FOR Monday.

Posted by: acb1 | February 4, 2010 2:05 PM | Report abuse

Liberal leave for the Feds means just about nothing.
Go to work and get paid, don't go to work and don't get paid. There isn't much more to it than that.

Posted by: bouncinggorilla | February 4, 2010 2:05 PM | Report abuse

Eh, my fault - the article should have said Wednesday, but I've heard in my office it's also next Monday.

Posted by: acb1 | February 4, 2010 2:08 PM | Report abuse

Can't we close early like we open late? An early closing would allow us to get home before "blizzard like conditions" hit around rush hour.

Posted by: youngnss | February 4, 2010 2:09 PM | Report abuse

Does this mean Metro will be on unscheduled delays?

Posted by: jckdoors | February 4, 2010 2:14 PM | Report abuse

Could someone please explain to me what the benefit of "unscheduled leave" is? Don't people already get that as a "sick day" or "personal day" or "vacation day"? Can't people use those days when a emergency comes up without having to schedule it? I just don't understand it. If you can't come in to work for whatever reason you can't come in, regardless of the weather and if you don't have the time to take off you'll get your pay docked? So why even declare "unscheduled leave"?

Posted by: LionelMandrake | February 4, 2010 2:15 PM | Report abuse

jckdoors wrote:
Does this mean Metro will be on unscheduled delays?
********************
Well, since one can always count on Metro having delays, they really wouldn't be unscheduled, would they?

Posted by: Rational4vr | February 4, 2010 2:21 PM | Report abuse

unscheduled leave means you can use a vacation day without having gotten advance approval. it's not a day without pay, its not a sick day. its a vacation day.

Posted by: WizFan | February 4, 2010 2:30 PM | Report abuse

Liberal leave: liberals, leave!

Posted by: CubsFan | February 4, 2010 2:30 PM | Report abuse

Sorry, but the correct term is climate change. Scientists do not say that temps are only going up all the time in all places. Overall, temps are rising but that's worldwide. If one is going to "debunk" climate change they really need more scientific data than a winter storm in the mid-Atlantic area.

Posted by: Sutter | February 4, 2010 2:35 PM | Report abuse

No, LionelMandrake, there are federal offices where the boss or bosses won't let employees take any time off without advance notice and scheduling. Some bosses don't even recognize emergencies. I worked for one such a long time ago.

Posted by: greggwiggins | February 4, 2010 2:41 PM | Report abuse

Mother nature needs to coordinate with the gov't a little better to maximize days off... these darn storms keep falling on weekends!

Posted by: mfetterhoff | February 4, 2010 2:46 PM | Report abuse

Wednesday??

Ed, I think you mean Unscheduled Leave for this Monday, Feb 8.

Posted by: rusty6 | February 4, 2010 2:47 PM | Report abuse

The Wash Post on my IPhone says OPM declared unscheduled leave this Monday, Feb 8. I don't see at opm.gov?

Posted by: rusty6 | February 4, 2010 2:48 PM | Report abuse

THANK YOU, mfetterhoff! I've been thinking the same thing! Why can't we get a Monday snowfall once in a while? My guess is that God wants federal employees to work!

Posted by: Buddydog | February 4, 2010 2:49 PM | Report abuse

Obama is a failure.

Posted by: thatsright2 | February 4, 2010 2:53 PM | Report abuse

To RUinVA:

You have to read your flexiplace aggrement for your agency to see if you have to continue to work at home. I work in Treasury. It says those who are on flexiplace during a closing are expected to continue working at home, which I'll be doing.

Posted by: rusty6 | February 4, 2010 2:57 PM | Report abuse

@greggwiggins -- Really? Wow! I've never had a boss like that, thankfully, so I've always been confused as to why an employee just couldn't call off for an a emergency. Thanks for the clarification.

Posted by: LionelMandrake | February 4, 2010 2:59 PM | Report abuse

With the gradual increase in global warming and the resultant prospect of a more energetic flow of arctic air to the southland each winter, perhaps the folks responsible for clearing snow from DC streets should arm themselves with the proper equipment for the job. Here in the wilds of western New York we hardly notice a snowfall that shuts Washington down.

Looks like it's becoming an annual thing folks - better get used to it!

Posted by: dunkberg | February 4, 2010 3:05 PM | Report abuse

I am glad that OPM made the liberal leave decision early, but I hope they will seriously reconsider the situation tonight and decide to close if indeed it appears that the snowfall will begin as early as 10 a.m. This sounds like a potential traffic and Metro nightmare.

Posted by: catsndogs | February 4, 2010 3:09 PM | Report abuse

I'm guessing OPM will announce an early closing tomorrow. If you decide to take vacation tomorrow so you don't have to try driving in blizzard conditions, I bet there's a good chance you won't have to use a full day of leave, due to an early closing.

Posted by: gmbo | February 4, 2010 3:29 PM | Report abuse

Is there any chance of double-deadbolting all the doors and changing the locks after they've all gone home?

Posted by: Extempraneous | February 4, 2010 3:31 PM | Report abuse

Prediction: Government closes at noon. Metro will be running trains 20 minutes apart.

Posted by: member5 | February 4, 2010 3:32 PM | Report abuse

Well, since one can always count on Metro having delays, they really wouldn't be unscheduled, would they?
Posted by: Rational4vr
===========================================
They're more like an unadvertised "feature"!

Posted by: therapidone | February 4, 2010 3:36 PM | Report abuse

While giving the government, e for effort the actual decision is terrible. I can't afford to take a vacation day. If as NOAA says, the storm will hit at 10 am and "conditions will deteriorate rapidly Friday afternoon" the ensuing chaos on the highways will be a nightmare. What if Metro, as they did in the last storm, closes all above ground stations? How will people get home? This is a disaster waiting to happen. One hopes the govt. will reconsider this decision.

Posted by: cgindc | February 4, 2010 3:39 PM | Report abuse

I am glad that OPM made the liberal leave decision early, but I hope they will seriously reconsider the situation tonight and decide to close if indeed it appears that the snowfall will begin as early as 10 a.m. This sounds like a potential traffic and Metro nightmare.
Posted by: catsndogs
===========================================
One thing that you do NOT want to do is leave when EVERYONE else leaves...instead of folks leaving when they usually do & at different times, almost EVERYONE will be on the road at once if there is an "early dismissal"!

Posted by: therapidone | February 4, 2010 3:47 PM | Report abuse

We all know he's a failure, but this time Hussein Obongo has nothing to do with predicting the weather, although he kind of look like Tony Perkins.

Posted by: eportillo655 | February 4, 2010 3:51 PM | Report abuse

OPM needs to reconsider this decision. If the predicted start of the storm has already advanced from 1 pm to 10 am, the likelihood is that it will actually begin even earlier, and commuting will be an unsafe disaster. Enough of the Chicago heroics! DC is not Chicago. They've already avoided several snow days due to the fortuitous timing of snow falling on weekends. Give us all a break.

Posted by: jimcohen | February 4, 2010 3:51 PM | Report abuse

My understanding is that if you take liberal leave, and then they close the place down, the people who were at work get a paid day spent out of the office, whereas the people who were on liberal leave still have to use up the leave day. I guess the telecommuters are totally out of luck and have to continue working unless the power or communications lines fail.

Posted by: ScienceTim | February 4, 2010 3:52 PM | Report abuse

@ScienceTim,

It might vary by agency, but for the last federal closure in December, our guidance was that you got the day off without using leave even if you were already taking the day off. I wound up with an extra use-or-lose day to burn because of that.

And yeah, telecommuters are stuck working, although it would be tough to tell if someone was lying if they claimed they couldn't because their Internet was out. Comcast was down for me for a few days after the December storm, so it's not out of the question.

Posted by: gmbo | February 4, 2010 4:00 PM | Report abuse

A long time ago--like in the early 1980s--the federal government decided that everyone had to report on a day when the snow started falling at around 7 a.m. By 10, several inches had come down and the decision was made to let everyone go at once. The traffic jams were epic. I worked in Georgetown at the time in private business and opted to walk home to Glover Park. I stood and witnessed a #30 bus sit through perhaps a dozen changes of the light at Wisconsin and R before it could go north. People I knew took 7 hours to get home by car to Virginia. It seems that, ever since then, the feds have erred very much on the side of caution.

Posted by: jhpurdy | February 4, 2010 4:07 PM | Report abuse

Metro has said that they close above ground stations once the snowfall reaches around 8 inches. That's unlikely to happen during evening rush hour. I think the prediction right now is 2-4 inches on the ground at rush hour. So Metro will probably be running above ground until at least 8-9 PM. By Saturday morning, though, they'll probably only be running below ground stations.

Posted by: barbaramusser | February 4, 2010 4:13 PM | Report abuse

"Unscheduled leave" is such a copout! It simply means that you have to take vacation if you can't come in.

Posted by: Three3 | February 4, 2010 4:37 PM | Report abuse

Fed gov likes to avoid closing the government on these snow days since it's so expensive. Heck of a lot cheaper just to let people take annual leave if they want or schlep down here early in the a.m. & then turn around & go home 4 hours later to avoid the fun later on.

Posted by: uncivil | February 4, 2010 4:43 PM | Report abuse

Yeah, so expensive to keep the 'crats at home. What exactly do you think they'll be doing at "work" for those two hours?

Posted by: member5 | February 4, 2010 5:04 PM | Report abuse

First, I was terribly excited when I read the headline referring to the dismissal of federal employees............then I read it was only a snowstorm! The beat continues down there on the Potomac...employees paid far and above a like job in the private sector....and an apparent PAID leave policy which covers anything and everything! I bet there is a union, to boot!!!! If it snows, and you aren't going to work, take a vacation day, a personal day, or whatever ... or don't get paid....there is a real world out here folks.......join us.

Posted by: connyankee1 | February 5, 2010 11:59 AM | Report abuse

This is like putting together a Chinese jigsaw puzzle.......is Monday...or was it Wednesday which becomes..or became...an unscheduled scheduled day off? ... who in hell cares...forget the government jargon...all of those folks will get paid anyway....unless, of course, they telecommute.....??????????????????????????????

Posted by: connyankee1 | February 5, 2010 12:04 PM | Report abuse

The comments to this entry are closed.

 
 
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