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In the event of a pandemic health crisis, employees of agencies may need to work from home or alter their work arrangements. The left navigation bar provides links to information on how to guide their employees on what changes they can make to their work arrangements during a pandemic health crisis.
Agencies may need to reanalyze their workforce and employment needs in light of a pandemic health crisis. OPM offers a workforce planning model and other resources to help agencies perform a workforce analysis and develop a comprehensive workforce plan.
The Office of Personnel Management (OPM) offers guidance to support the efforts of departments and agencies to encourage employee participation in volunteer activities. Departments and agencies should also review any applicable regulations or policies and collective bargaining agreements before making determinations on these matters.
The Federal Government offers flexible work arrangements to assist employees who are affected by a pandemic influenza.
Evacuation payments may be made to employees or their dependents, or both, who are ordered to be evacuated from or within the United States and certain nonforeign areas in the national interest because of natural disasters or for military or other reasons that create imminent danger to the lives of the employees, their immediate family, or their dependents.
An agency may implement alternative work schedules (AWS) instead of traditional fixed work schedules. Within rules established by the agency, AWS can enable employees to have work schedules that help the employee balance work and family or personal responsibilities. There are two categories of AWS:
FWS consist of workdays with core hours and flexible hours. Core hours are the designated period of the day when all employees must be at work. Flexible hours are the part of the workday employees may (within limits or "bands") choose their time of arrival and departure.
FWS are voluntary and subject to approval of the supervisor or manager.
Various types of FWS arrangements provide different degrees of flexibility: :
The following provisions apply to using credit hours under an FWS program:
Premium pay for night work generally is not paid to a General Schedule (GS) employee solely because the employee elects to work credit hours, or elects a time of arrival or departure, at a time when night pay is authorized.
Agencies must pay night pay for all designated core hours worked between 6 p.m. and 6 a.m. and for any regularly scheduled overtime work between those hours.
A full-time FWS employee is limited to 8 hours of basic pay on holidays.
A part-time FWS employee is entitled to basic pay for the number of hours scheduled for the holiday, not to exceed 8 hours (5 U.S.C. 6124).
If an Executive order is issued granting a "half-day" holiday, full-time FWS employees are entitled to basic pay for the last half of their "basic work requirement" (i.e., non-overtime hours) on that day, not to exceed 4 hours.
A full-time FWS employee earns Sunday premium pay for an entire non-overtime regularly scheduled tour of duty (not to exceed 8 hours) that begins or ends on Sunday. Sunday premium pay may not be paid for periods of nonwork, including leave, holidays, and excused absence.
Compressed Work Schedules (CWS) are fixed work schedules that allow full-time employees to complete the basic 80-hour biweekly work requirement in less than 10 workdays, subject to the following provisions:
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In recent years, telework has become increasingly widespread and formalized, with legislative mandates as well as new programmatic and policy supports and structures. The information in this section is intended to help Federal managers and employees understand how to make telework a routine part of doing business, as well as how to integrate telework into planning for an emergency, including a pandemic health crisis. OPM will also distribute the document called A Guide to Telework in the Federal Government separately as general guidance. We include it here to ensure this material is comprehensive for agency use in preparing for pandemic influenza.
Here are some actions you can take in advance of a pandemic health crisis to ensure you can accomplish work if such a crisis occurs:
Here are some actions you can take if a pandemic health crisis occurs:
An agency may immediately appoint any qualified individual to the following medical occupations at all grades and geographic locations after issuing public notice: Diagnostic Radiologic Technologist, GS-0647; Medical Officer, GS-0602; Nurse, GS 0610, GS-0620; and Pharmacist, GS-0660; Information Technology (Information Security), positions for GS-2210 at the GS-9 and above grade levels at all locations. positions In addition, OPM recently authorized a nationwide direct-hire authority for Veterinary Medical Officers, GS-0701, at the GS-11 through GS-15. Hiring timeframes are reduced drastically because rating, ranking, and veterans' preference do not apply. However, OPM encourages appointing qualified veterans' preference eligibles whenever possible.
This authority may be useful to immediately appoint individuals with specialized knowledge, skills, abilities, or competencies to address the outbreak while the agency explores other longer-term staffing options. Agencies may make 30-day appointments and may extend them for an additional 30 days. (5 CFR 213.3102(i)(2))
This authority may be useful to immediately handle an outbreak affecting only an isolated area. It allows 1-year, 1040 work hours per year in remote/isolated locations. Agencies may appoint individuals for up to 1 year to work less than 1040 hours per year. Appointments may be extended in 1-year increments indefinitely. (5 CFR 213.3102(i)(2))
Agencies may reappoint people previously employed under a career or career-conditional appointment by reinstatement to a competitive service position. (5 CFR 315 subpart D)
Agencies have the authority to reappoint individuals who are willing to work without a salary offset waiver through any applicable hiring authority (e.g., a temporary appointment under 5 CFR part 316). (5 U.S.C. 8344 or 8468)
The National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) for Fiscal Year 2010, authorizes the head of an agency to grant their own dual compensation (salary off-set) waivers on a temporary basis under certain specified circumstances. Re-employment is limited to one year or less, however as a temporary appointment, it may be extended for an additional year (i.e., 2years total). Reemployment with this salary off-set waiver may not exceed 2.5 percent of the agency's full-time workforce at any given time. If re-employment exceeds 1 percent, agencies are required to provide an explanation and justification to the U.S. Congress and OPM. Agencies are required to report their usage no later than February 1 of each year through 2015. This authority expires on October 27, 2014.
This authority may be useful to hire top scientists from academia to assist agencies in medical research. Agencies may appoint faculty members holding full faculty status from accredited colleges and universities, to scientific, professional, or analytical positions. Appointments are limited to 130 working days per year. (5 CFR 213.3102(o))
Advertising in the local commuting area to determine if individuals eligible under these programs are available may help agencies identify previously unknown, well-qualified, displaced Federal employees for immediate temporary, term, or permanent employment. These programs provide selection priority to well-qualified current and former displaced employees. (5 CFR 330, subparts F and G)
Current and former employees on agency RPLs are another immediate source of qualified individuals available for temporary, term, or permanent competitive service appointments. The RPL provides selection priority for agency employees who will be or were separated by reduction in force or who have recovered from a work-related injury after more than 1 year. (5 CFR 330)
An agency may appoint an employee with specialized skills or competencies from another agency for up to 120 days without regard to CTAP or ICTAP selection priority. (5 CFR 330, subparts F and G)
Agencies may contract with private sector temporary firms for services to meet their emergency needs. These contracts may be for 120 days and may be extended for an additional 120 days subject to displaced employee procedures. Agencies considering this flexibility should contact their procurement staff. (5 CFR 300, subpart E)
OPM may grant use of this authority in response to an outbreak (e.g., to specific agencies and/or geographic locations) or upon request by an agency affected by a pandemic influenza outbreak. (5 CFR 213.3102(i)(3))
Agencies may want to consider bringing retirees back to work in emergency situations or to supplement their workforce during a pandemic influenza outbreak. Upon request, OPM may delegate agency heads authority to waive the dual compensation reduction (salary offset) otherwise required for reemployed Federal civilian annuitants. OPM cannot approve waivers retroactively. (5 CFR 553, subpart B)
OPM may authorize excepted service appointment authority for specific positions when competitive examining is not practical. (5 CFR 213)
Agencies may request Direct Hire Authority (DHA) for positions they need to fill based on a critical hiring need or severe shortage of candidates. OPM will expedite requests for agency-specific direct hire authority. (5 CFR 337, subpart B)
Agencies may also want to rehire retirees or others who left the Federal Government with buyouts. Depending upon the specific statute under which the retiree received the buyout, agencies may request a repayment waiver from OPM in unusual circumstances. Persons being considered for waivers must be the only qualified applicants available for the positions and possess expertise and special qualifications needed to respond to emergencies. (5 CFR 576, subpart B)
Agencies have the authority to make SES Limited Emergency appointments to career employees. OPM may approve agencies' requests to appoint individuals who are not current career employees, and will consider temporary space allocations for agencies who identify the need as essential. (5 CFR 317.601)
This website is designed to assist agencies as they prepare for and respond to a pandemic health crisis. For the latest information on contingency planning for a pandemic influenza, visit the Flu website. Readers should also review their agency policies, practices, and guidance prior to taking action.
NOTE: Regulatory procedures, agency policies, and collective bargaining agreements, if any, apply when using the following flexibilities.
The Office of Personnel Management (OPM) encourages agencies to consider the following five strategies for keeping organizations staffed in the event of a pandemic health crisis:
Excepted Service Appointing Authorities
Used separately or together, these five strategies will help agencies staff mission-critical positions during an emergency with a minimum of red-tape, while the agency considers longer-term staffing options. For less urgent needs, agencies should continue to use competitive examining or any applicable hiring flexibility the agency would otherwise use.