OPM to Agencies: Let Feds Telework to Avoid Heat

Federal employees can also adjust their daily schedules to avoid high temperatures.

It is really hot out. Oppressively, dangerously hot, and excessive heat warnings are in effect across the country.

The Office of Personnel Management wants to make sure federal employees stay safe, and this summer that could mean staying at home and in the air conditioning.

OPM encouraged agencies to approve telework and flexible work schedules when the weather reaches levels that create poor air quality. The human resources agency said if agencies allow it, employees can adjust their schedules so they avoid travel during the hottest parts of the day. Employees can also take vacation days, OPM said.

“Employees may also request annual leave, earned compensatory time off, or credit hours on a day when severe heat and humidity are threatening to the employee’s health and welfare,” OPM acting Director Beth Cobert said in a memorandum to agencies.

Cobert said OPM is working with the Health and Human Services Department to “remind federal agencies to be proactive in protecting the health and well‑being of our employees.” Part of that effort, she said, was ensuring federal workers stay hydrated.

“We should take all available steps to help protect our employees during potentially dangerous heat waves,” Cobert wrote. “Federal agencies are encouraged to remind their employees of the need to remain adequately hydrated during severe heat.”

OPM encouraged feds to monitor resources available through HHS, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for “advice on the best ways to cope with severe heat.”

NOAA has warned that 124 million Americans will be affected by excessive heat this weekend and into next week, with the heat index in some areas reaching as high as 110 degrees. The agency called heat a “silent killer.” 

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