OPM prepares for aftermath of Hurricane Frances

As Hurricane Frances bears down on the Florida coast, the Office of Personnel Management issued a memo Thursday encouraging managers to grant excused absences to employees asked to help with law enforcement and the inevitable cleanup. The memo stated that OPM's actions would be consistent with those of last month's Hurricane Charley.Federal employees prevented from working or who face a personal emergency because of the hurricane can be excused from their usual responsibilities, OPM said.

The memo stated that the office's policies for the impending disaster are similar to those during Hurricane Charley and previous natural disasters.

OPM Director Kay Coles James said in a press release that federal workers are being mobilized to respond to the Category 3 storm and to help with relief work.

"The anticipated severity of Hurricane Frances, coming so closely as it will on the destruction caused by Hurricane Charley, makes it absolutely essential that our federal managers have available the full range of human resources flexibilities to produce the most effective response," James said.

According to the memo, agencies are allowed to make exceptions to the biweekly premium pay limits by allowing employees receiving premium pay for overtime work in connection with the emergency to be subject to annual pay limits, rather than biweekly pay limits.

Written requests for the solicitations of federal employees' charitable donations, outside the Combined Federal Campaign, may be made to James and an "emergency leave transfer program" may be established to allow workers to donate unused annual leave time to other employees harmed by the hurricane.

Other recommendations include allowing emergency critical hiring, direct-hire authority and contracting with private sector employment firms for limited periods of time for services to meet emergency staffing needs.

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