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Let it snow: Fed workers can forget unscheduled leave

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Fewer federal employees will miss work this winter when the government shuts down because of snow.

Under a new federal Office of Personnel Management (OPM) policy, employees with existing telework agreements will be expected to work from home.

The OPM, which sets HR policy for all civilian federal employees, changed its definition of “leave” during bad weather or other events that makes it hard for employees to get to their government offices.

Traditionally, OPM would make an early-morning announcement to let employees know if the government would be “open, operating under an unscheduled leave policy” or “closed.”

Now, agencies will consider the snow day an “open, unscheduled leave or unscheduled telework day” for employees with existing telework agreements or “closed to the public,” meaning emergency personnel must report and those with the ability to telecommute to work from home that day.

Example: During a recent light snow in Washington, D.C., OPM issued this advisory: “Federal agencies in the Washington, DC, area are OPEN. Employees are expected to report to their worksite or begin telework on time.”

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