The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) continues to remind the American public that the immediate health risk from COVID-19 is considered low. (See https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/summary.html.) However, it remains critically important that the Federal Government continues to strengthen its efforts to protect the Federal workforce and ensure continuity of operations (COOP). Therefore, the U.S. Office of Personnel Management (OPM) is providing additional guidance on COVID-19 to the Federal workforce to supplement our previously issued guidance. (See CPM 2020-01, CPM 2020-02, and CPM 2020-04 at www.opm.gov/covid19.)
The questions and answers attached to this memorandum reflect the various inquiries OPM has received from agencies and employees regarding COVID-19 and human resources policies. The topics discussed include:
- Determination of COVID-19 as a Quarantinable Communicable Disease;
- Sick Leave and Other Time Off;
- Weather and Safety Leave;
- Evacuation Payments;
- Employee Relations;
- Hazardous Duty Pay;
- Workplace Protections; and
- Office of Workers Compensation Programs (OWCP).
Agencies are strongly encouraged to continue reviewing and updating their emergency and COOP plans, as needed. The successful incorporation of telework and “social distancing” in COOP and emergency planning will allow the Federal Government to continue functioning efficiently and effectively, while ensuring the health and safety of employees. Agency COOP plans should have telework fully incorporated so that as many employees as possible are working during a COOP activation.
Agencies should immediately review their current telework policies and ensure that written telework agreements are in place for as many employees as possible. Agencies are strongly encouraged to sign situational (ad hoc) telework agreements with all telework eligible employees currently without a signed telework agreement. Further, agencies should reassess their factors for determining telework eligibility to determine if additional categories of employees may be classified as telework eligible. Finally, OPM encourages agencies to take steps to prepare all telework-ready employees to effectively telework and have access to agency IT systems and networks, as may be necessary, should the conditions from COVID-19 so warrant a Federal office closure. For additional information, please see OPM’s Governmentwide Dismissal and Closure Procedures (https://www.opm.gov/policy-data-oversight/pay-leave/reference-materials/handbooks/dcdismissal.pdf).
As this is a rapidly evolving situation, OPM will continue to assist and inform agencies and employees regarding the potential impacts of and available responses to COVID-19. OPM will also update our website on a frequent basis to provide the latest guidance and additional questions and answers. The latest guidance and question and answers will be posted here: www.opm.gov/covid19. To sign up for alerts on OPM guidance, please visit: https://www.opm.gov/policy-data-oversight/pay-leave/pay-administration/#url=Listserv.