Biden Administration Establishes Leave Transfer Program for Tornadoes, Wildfires
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The Office of Personnel Management announced last week that it is implementing measures to allow federal workers to donate unused annual leave to other feds impacted by a spate of recent natural disasters.
In a memo to agency heads, OPM Director Kiran Ahuja announced that her agency is establishing emergency leave transfer programs in connection with tornadoes that cut across the Midwest and the South and wildfires in Colorado last year.
Emergency leave transfer programs allow federal employees to donate unused annual leave so that it can be given to federal workers who were impacted by a disaster and need time off from work to recover. Donated leave may also be used by federal employees to aid family members who were adversely affected by a natural disaster.
Although OPM makes the determination whether an emergency leave transfer program is warranted in the aftermath of a disaster or emergency, each individual agency is responsible for setting up leave banks to which federal employees can donate and determining which employees are eligible to used donated leave.
“Agencies with employees adversely affected by the Midwest and Southern Tornado Outbreak 2021 or the Boulder County, Col., Wildfires 2021 are in the best position to determine whether, and how much, donated annual leave is needed by their employees and which of their employees have been adversely affected by the specific emergency,” Ahuja wrote. “They are also in the best position to quickly facilitate the transfer of donated annual leave within their agencies.”
Ahuja wrote that although her agency announced the establishment of emergency leave transfer programs in connection with both disasters simultaneously, agencies must set up two separate leave transfer programs, and may not establish one combined program to address the needs of both employees impacted by the wildfires and those affected by the tornadoes. OPM may step in to coordinate leave donated across different agencies in cases where one agency does not receive enough donated leave from its own employees to meet demand.
“Agencies are responsible for administering [emergency leave transfer programs] for their own affected employees,” she wrote. “Therefore, employees who wish to donate annual leave must contact their own agencies, not OPM, to determine if there are any affected employees in their agency and how to donate annual leave to them. Agencies should contact OPM for assistance in receiving additional donated annual leave from other agencies only if they do not receive sufficient amounts of donated annual leave to meet the needs of emergency leave recipients within the agency after having conducted multiple solicitations.”