Network News

X My Profile
View More Activity
Posted at 1:16 PM ET, 01/31/2011

Federal workers may take unscheduled leave Tuesday

By Ed O'Keefe

Updated 4:28 p.m. ET
Federal workers in the Washington area may take unscheduled leave or telework tomorrow, and officials didn't rule out delaying Tuesday's open or closing offices because of approaching storms.

Wintry conditions expected Tuesday and Wednesday "will be highly variable," prompting the early decision on Tuesday's operating status, Office of Personnel Management Director John Berry said Monday.

"We will be watching this very closely," Berry said in an interview. "The National Weather Service refers to this as a 'very challenging forecast.' We essentially have two separate storm systems, one coming from the West, one coming from the ocean."

Berry, a big advocate of teleworking programs, asked agency officials to determine this afternoon if they should establish alternative work plans for Tuesday and Wednesday. Though Berry can encourage the use of telework, he has no enforcement powers.

A decision about Tuesday's opening will be made early tomorrow, Berry said in an e-mail. (Earlier he had said he might make the decision tonight.)

He was panned last week for his decision to dismiss workers Wednesday afternoon, a dismissal that coincided with the arrival of precipitation and led to an historically poor evening commute. OPM later faced criticism for not clearly explaining the decision to local news outlets.

Regardless of Tuesday's weather, essential or "emergency" workers must report as normal. Employees deciding to stay home may use annual leave, comp time or leave without pay.

Agree or disagree with the decision? Leave your thoughts in the comments section below

RELATED: Track Tuesday's forecast with The Capital Weather Gang

RELATED: Plan your Tuesday commute with The Post's Dr. Gridlock

By Ed O'Keefe  | January 31, 2011; 1:16 PM ET
Categories:  Workplace Issues  
Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   Del.icio.us   StumbleUpon   Technorati   Google Buzz   Previous: Top Marines pledge to 'step out smartly' to repeal 'don't ask, don't tell'
Next: Unscheduled leave for federal workers on Tues.

Comments

Finally somebody's thinking ahead. Too bad most of the private sector doesn't follow suit with telecommuting. Managers generally despise it, or more like managers with chips on their shoulders who are control freaks and must have their fingers in everything generally despise it.

Posted by: sjcsando | January 31, 2011 1:53 PM | Report abuse

Feds need to get a better plan because all the B more fed agencies shut down (VA, Soc Sec etc.) and Wash Dc stays open or has a delay but what about fed workers stuck in B more? They shouldn't have to take leave when other agencies are closed in B more verifying road conditions are VERY hazardous????? I do understand sometimes there is a serious weather differnce between Dc and B more but agencies need to get on the same page. My position doesn't qualify for telework so I shouldn't have yo use leave if other agencies close down???

I learned my lesson yrs ago when DC shut down for hurricane and I was stuck at VA in B more. I was sooooo mad the streets and trains were empty while I was trying to get home. I use my leave now for my own safety!!!!

Posted by: MDlady2 | January 31, 2011 1:55 PM | Report abuse

Why don't they just make a decision before people go home today! Even tho' they say unscheduled leave...there are supervisors who have a case of the a@@ when you take off!

Posted by: onlyghost | January 31, 2011 2:12 PM | Report abuse

onlyghost- they can't make a decision tonight because there may not be any ice overnight. Cancel and nothing comes and you cost the tax payers a fortune. Besides Obama has been very clear that the government should always be open. Cancellations will be rare.

Posted by: McCarthy911 | January 31, 2011 2:16 PM | Report abuse

Telework? Wow, surfing the web, shopping, youtubing, watching porn...at home.

What dedication, what sacrifice.

At least they won't have to leave early to go home.........

Posted by: wesatch | January 31, 2011 3:26 PM | Report abuse

Telework? Wow, surfing the web, shopping, youtubing, watching porn...at home.

What dedication, what sacrifice.

At least they won't have to leave early to go home.........

Posted by: wesatch | January 31, 2011 3:26 PM | Report abuse

I thought the government should have shut down last week for one reason - the suspension of MARC train service. I don't know the daily numbers of people who commute to DC using the MARC train, but I would imagine that a significant number of people were unable to commute that day. I understand wanting the government to stay open as much as possible. But in principle if an entire train system was shut down, people should not have had to take unscheduled leave.

Posted by: linz2 | January 31, 2011 3:33 PM | Report abuse

That is great for agencies that allow telework. Mine does not. Which means that if I take the day off I will be at home checking production log files and responding to emails without being paid for it.

....I don't mind but I wish there was more of a push to expand telework so that people like me can rightfully charge their work times. ....and yes, there are many federal workers that do work while taking vacation time on a regular basis.

Posted by: columbia1 | January 31, 2011 3:55 PM | Report abuse

Last week, I had to stay home because my daughter's day care was closed in Montgomery County and with no other family in the area, and my wife sick to begin with, I didn't really have a choice and was surprised to see that with every school in the area, they only had a two hour delay.

Either way, the real issues are still glossed over. For one, they have no idea how to prepare for or clear snow.

When the 16th Street EVACUATION ROUTE takes 5 hours to traverse in TWO inches of snow there's a problem.

When groups like PEPCO can be so darn incompetent that our infrastructure looks like 2003 Baghdad at the slightest breeze, there's a problem.

When whoever plans for lights and such in the city makes things more difficult by making certain lights unnecessarily long while the perpendiculars are short, putting turn arrows where none are needed (the 15th St NW corridor between Mass Ave and Malcolm X/Meridian Park) and leaving out turn arrows where they are needed (NB 16th NW between Irving and Oak), making the timing of lights so that in some instances if you hit one you'll hit ALL in a stretch of 2 miles, having some buses have stops three times in a span of 2 blocks (no wonder we're an obese nation, we can't walk an extra 35 feet to a bus), etc., there's a problem.

When environmental groups prevent trees from being trimmed to appropriate levels, citing cost and environmental and eco friendly reasons regardless of the cost of lives and money when one collapses on a roadway, person, and/or powerline not to mention the pollution of cars stuck in traffic as a result, there's a problem.

When the city seems to have taken driving lessons from the Helen Keller Academy of Driving, there's a problem.

When the most powerful city in the world (or one of at least) is shut down at the mere forecast of something, there's a problem.

Those in charge (and, no, I don't mean Obama) need to get together and get a real plan in action because it snows every frikkin' year, and still they act like Alzheimer's patients when it comes and have no idea what to do.

After last year's mess, there is no excuse to not be better prepared.

Posted by: yanks5179 | January 31, 2011 4:02 PM | Report abuse

Telework? Wow, surfing the web, shopping, youtubing, watching porn...at home.

What dedication, what sacrifice.

At least they won't have to leave early to go home.........

Posted by: wesatch | January 31, 2011 3:26 PM | Report abuse
----------------------------------------

First, everybody is not like you.....
Secondly, are you jealous McDonalds doesnt allow you to flip burgers at home.
Third, anyone who telework has to use government equipment.

Fourth, the fact you made that state suggest to me you are a bitter person.

Fifth, dont hate.

Posted by: Sincear2021 | January 31, 2011 4:04 PM | Report abuse

I agree, Yank

I was stuck in the snow for seven hours, last wednesday.

Posted by: Sincear2021 | January 31, 2011 4:06 PM | Report abuse

All the hate coming from people..."watching porn...." How childish. I work plenty of hours of overtime for the "taxpayers" and never get paid a single penny for it, not to mention I use my own electricity at my house, my personal cell phone, and my personal internet access to do business on the "taxpayers'" behalf. All of that for 51k coupled with 100k in student loan debt and I actually pay taxes too!!! I guarantee that I paid more in taxes than wesatch. Guarantee.

Posted by: nsu1203 | January 31, 2011 4:11 PM | Report abuse

What's the difference anyway. Does anyone in the government work--they just shuffle papers from one side of their to the other.
And get fired, never.

Posted by: ears37 | January 31, 2011 4:19 PM | Report abuse

What's the difference anyway. Does anyone in the government work--they just shuffle papers from one side of their to the other.
And get fired, never.

Posted by: ears37 | January 31, 2011 4:19 PM

*************************************

That's only upper management ears37... Most of the regular folks actually work hard for their money.

Posted by: cathy3305 | January 31, 2011 4:49 PM | Report abuse

Most corporations offer telework policies for their employees. Unless your presence is physically required, like a cashier or security guard, you can get a lot done at home.

College students essentially telework, so why should professionals who graduated from college years earlier be treated with less respect?

______________________________
Luddite wrote:

Telework? Wow, surfing the web, shopping, youtubing, watching porn...at home.

What dedication, what sacrifice.

At least they won't have to leave early to go home.........

Posted by: wesatch | January 31, 2011 3:26 PM | Report abuse

Posted by: AxelDC | January 31, 2011 5:07 PM | Report abuse

I was very pleased with the decision last week - with the 2 hour early departure, I was able to get home in just about an hour, only slightly longer than usual. The 2-hour delay on Thursday was also most welcome. However, the work at home option would seem to have a disparate effect. Some agencies' rules seem to be stricter than others, and with firewalls, etc., a lot of paperwork needs to be carted around, "just in case." And what about those who are not permitted to telework? Is their only choice to take leave when, in the past, there would have instead been a delay? Please don't continue to punish us for last year's weather. We are hard-working and dedicated, we know when to step up and get things done.

Posted by: RetiringIn12Years | January 31, 2011 5:09 PM | Report abuse

Occasional teleworking allows me to be more productive because I can have some peace and quiet to get certain things done. I love how whenever there is an article about federal employees in any facet people get on here and bash them as lazy. Likely these are people sitting in cubicles at their own jobs doing nothing productive but surfing the web and commeting on things they have no clue about.

Posted by: dan1005 | January 31, 2011 5:13 PM | Report abuse

I am sure federal workers will be working when they take this leave. Yea right.

Workers in Minn. have to work.

Do federal workers expect to be paid for this time off? Of course, plus the time goes toward their over rich pensions.

Taxpayers are revolting. There are too many federal workers not working at all. This leave is one example.

Posted by: cpameetingbook | January 31, 2011 5:20 PM | Report abuse

I work at CMS Baltimore. My managers do not support telework and have been fighting all efforts to promote it. Requesting telework is a difficult process and the documentation for work performed is ludicrous.

Posted by: tterrific | January 31, 2011 6:29 PM | Report abuse

I work at CMS Baltimore. My managers do not support telework and have been fighting all efforts to promote it. Requesting telework is a difficult process and the documentation for work performed is ludicrous.

Posted by: tterrific | January 31, 2011 6:30 PM | Report abuse

Fed worker bashing is such c&%$ - if you think we have it so easy why don't you become one of us. I guarantee you'll be singing a way different tune very quickly. Yes, there are some slackers but that's true in private industry as well (I have numerous friends who work in the private sector). In general, feds are extremely hard working and I've had the pleasure over my years as a fed of working with many of the most brilliant people I've ever met.

Posted by: seaduck2001 | January 31, 2011 6:37 PM | Report abuse

I am a contractor at a Government agency, and work with a couple of people that are just taking up space, but the overwhelming majority of the folks I routinely interact with are dedicated, hardworking folks, that routinely ask the question during meetings, "Are we being good stewards of the taxpayer's money by doing this?" and "Is this the best way to support the American taxpayer?" They work many hours of overtime, unpaid, in order to just "get the job done". The bashing of these good, hardworking folks needs to stop. I have been VERY impressed with my experience.

Posted by: ArlingtonVA1 | January 31, 2011 6:52 PM | Report abuse

I am a contractor at a Government agency, and work with a couple of people that are just taking up space, but the overwhelming majority of the folks I routinely interact with are dedicated, hardworking folks, that routinely ask the question during meetings, "Are we being good stewards of the taxpayer's money by doing this?" and "Is this the best way to support the American taxpayer?" They work many hours of overtime, unpaid, in order to just "get the job done". The bashing of these good, hardworking folks needs to stop. I have been VERY impressed with my experience.

Posted by: ArlingtonVA1 | January 31, 2011 6:53 PM | Report abuse

Leave the government workers alone. I was fortunate enough to land 3 separate Schedule C appointments under Clinton's Administration. Prior to that, I worked private industry and interacted with government employees on varying levels. I'd heard all kinds of horror stories about government employees and had even dealt with a few incompetents.

When I became an employee of the government, I was pleasantly surprised at the dedication, competence and true desire I saw of career employees whose desire was to give of themselves and try to make a difference for our country.

Posted by: gladiatorgal | January 31, 2011 7:09 PM | Report abuse

It is a nice for OPM to make an early decision IF you have the option of telework, but many federal workers do not so IF there is icing it is likely we will still be on the roads! :(

Posted by: markfd | January 31, 2011 7:59 PM | Report abuse

Spare us underpaid, benefit-less private-sector people who routinely work 70 hour weeks the maudlin sound of 10,000 tiny little Federal violins.

We drive long distances to work in snowstorms, because if we don't work, we don't get paid. (We don't get vacation or sick days, either.)

But we can't all live in DC, seaduck2001, so there are no Federal jobs for us. We consider ourselves lucky to have any job at all.

Nevertheless, given the demonstrated incompetence (not to mention sheer unmitigated whininess) of Metro area drivers in even marginally sloppy conditions, I suppose yet another vacation day for Federal employees (courtesy of us) is the lesser evil here.

Posted by: Itzajob | January 31, 2011 8:21 PM | Report abuse

The media headlines on this are misleading: this ruling does not give every worker the right to tele-work. There a several conditions in play, the primary being that agency has a plan in place for these events. If properly managed (there's the rub!) this plan should help insure that those who take this option actually have work they can do from home that can be measured. It is not as if, say, a janitor, could just call and say "I'm tele-working" today, then go back to bed.

Posted by: Cossackathon | January 31, 2011 8:56 PM | Report abuse

I don't think telework applies to those working for DOD or federal intel agencies. Try again.

Posted by: DC_MAN88 | January 31, 2011 9:52 PM | Report abuse

Itzajob-

I'm not playing any violins -- for myself OR YOU. My Federal oolleagues have benefits. If they overuse them, they don't get paid either. I've worked a few 70 hour weeks myself compadre, with hacks like you screaming all the while that I'm overpaid and lazy (a little bit of ignorant, self-righteous theater you dish out but don't have to suck up).

No less than 85% of Federal employees work outside of the Washington, DC area. For those that do work in the DC area, they have a nightmarish commute that is equal to (and more likely worse than) your commute. Officially, it is the worst traffic in the country -- worse than NYC.

I wish everybody had a job buddy, but it's not my fault that they don't (it may not even be their fault). If you don't get sick or vacation days, I think you need to change industries, start a union, or, in the spirit of the Tea Party, start your own business.

We agree on one thing, DC doesn't take snow well. For this reason, although I do not telecommute regularly, I do so when Washington comes to a standstill while drivers from 50 states learn one another's habits on ice. I grew up with the stuff, so it doesn't bother me, but the lame drivers sure do.

Posted by: finserra | January 31, 2011 10:36 PM | Report abuse

Spare us underpaid, benefit-less private-sector people who routinely work 70 hour weeks the maudlin sound of 10,000 tiny little Federal violins.

We drive long distances to work in snowstorms, because if we don't work, we don't get paid. (We don't get vacation or sick days, either.)

But we can't all live in DC, seaduck2001, so there are no Federal jobs for us. We consider ourselves lucky to have any job at all.

Nevertheless, given the demonstrated incompetence (not to mention sheer unmitigated whininess) of Metro area drivers in even marginally sloppy conditions, I suppose yet another vacation day for Federal employees (courtesy of us) is the lesser evil here.

Posted by: Itzajob | January 31, 2011 8:21 PM |

__________________

You don't get vacation or sick days? Where do you work?! You might want to look into this...

Posted by: marylandarlington | January 31, 2011 11:06 PM | Report abuse

My government customer has written a contract for our company that says we can't do billable work unless we are there at the customer site. If the NWS says to stay off the roads and the government site isn't completely shut down, then all of the contractors show up anyway because their pay will be docked if they miss a day of work.

Posted by: reston75 | January 31, 2011 11:51 PM | Report abuse

The question is : Will anyone know they're gone ?

Posted by: puck-101 | February 1, 2011 3:26 AM | Report abuse

This website printapons is too cool. I use promo codes alot and hate having to look all over the place for them.

Posted by: twiladavis | February 1, 2011 4:20 AM | Report abuse

cpameetingbook - Yes, government workers will expect to get paid when they take this leave. That's how vacation pay works in both private and public sector. Unscheduled leave means you can take the day off without prior notice or approval. It's still charged as a vacation day, you are paid like a vacation day, and like other vacation days you are not expected to work. Is that different than how it works elsewhere or are you just talking about something you know nothing about? Are you actually proposing that federal employees not be able to earn vacation days?

Posted by: justanotherguy | February 1, 2011 5:51 AM | Report abuse

"Most of the regular folks actually work hard for their money."

Funniest thing I read all day.

Posted by: getjiggly1 | February 2, 2011 1:48 PM | Report abuse

Post a Comment

We encourage users to analyze, comment on and even challenge washingtonpost.com's articles, blogs, reviews and multimedia features.

User reviews and comments that include profanity or personal attacks or other inappropriate comments or material will be removed from the site. Additionally, entries that are unsigned or contain "signatures" by someone other than the actual author will be removed. Finally, we will take steps to block users who violate any of our posting standards, terms of use or privacy policies or any other policies governing this site. Please review the full rules governing commentaries and discussions.




characters remaining

 
 
RSS Feed
Subscribe to The Post

© 2011 The Washington Post Company