Let It Snow

January 24, 1997

Let It Snow

A new winter-weather policy for Washington-area federal workers should make commutes safer and faster during snowstorms, the Office of Personnel Management says.

Under the old policy, where an employee lived determined when he or she would be expected to get to work or instructed to leave the office during inclement weather.

"The old policy assumed that workers left the city center and traveled outwards, but current reality is that the traffic pattern more closely resembles moves on a chessboard than the model of a spoked wheel where everyone flows out of the hub and moves straight to the rim," OPM Director James B. King said.

Under the new policy, on mornings with severe weather, employees will be instructed to adjust the times when they leave home to go to work. For example, if a two-hour delay is called, anyone who normally leaves home at 7 a.m. would be asked to leave at 9 a.m. instead. King said employees should not follow advice from radio and television stations that tell people to leave early in bad weather to allow more time to get to work. That, he said, only interferes with crews clearing the roads.

The policy will work the same way if employees have to leave work early because of the weather. If a three-hour early dismissal were called, workers who normally leave at 5 p.m. would be instructed to leave at 2 p.m.

Radio and television stations will now be asked to use the following terminology to describe the status of the government on days with inclement weather:

  • OPEN
    All federal workers are expected to report for work on time.
    Federal employees may take leave without prior approval.
    Employees are requested to leave home for work a certain amount of time later than their normal departure time.
    Employees are requested to leave their home later than their normal departure time, and employees may take leave without prior approval.
    Federal employees not designated "emergency employees" are excused from duty without loss of pay or charge to leave.
To find out the federal government's status on bad weather days, check http://www.opm.gov/weather or call (202) 606-1900.
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