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Frequently Asked Questions Pandemic

  • No. An employee is free to resign or retire at any time as well as set the effective date of the resignation or retirement.
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  • Different rules apply depending on whether an employee is in a bargaining or non-bargaining unit and whether the agency has a flexible or compressed work schedule.
    • If an employee is in a bargaining unit, the agency must successfully negotiate an alternative work schedule program (compressed work schedule or flexible work schedule) with the union prior to implementation. (See 5 U.S.C. 6130.) Bargaining unit employees may participate in an alternative work schedule program only under the terms provided in a negotiated agreement. Therefore, an agency that wishes to establish such a program for these employees must negotiate the establishment and terms of the program with the exclusive representative of the bargaining unit.
    • A majority of affected employees in a non-bargaining unit must vote to be included in a compressed work schedule program when participation in the program would be mandatory. (See 5 U.S.C. 6127(b).) For the purpose of this vote, a majority is obtained when the number of affirmative votes exceeds 50 percent of the number of employees and supervisors in the organization proposed for inclusion in a compressed work schedule. (If participation in a compressed work schedule program is voluntary for each employee, a vote is unnecessary because employees who elect not to participate are not included and are unaffected.)
    If the head of an agency determines that a flexible or compressed work schedule has an “adverse agency impact” (e.g., a reduction in productivity, a diminished level of service to the public, or an increase in operational costs) the agency may discontinue the alternative work schedule. (See 5 U.S.C. 6131(a).)
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  • No, unless your agency required you to work the additional 4 hours. Overtime pay generally is required under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) and 5 CFR 551.501 when Federal FLSA-covered (nonexempt) employees are required to be on duty beyond 8 hours a day or 40 hours a week, assuming the supervisor knows of the work or has reason to believe the work is being performed. An FLSA-covered employee who is permitted to telework at home and chooses to work additional hours without the knowledge of his or her supervisor may not earn overtime pay as a result of “suffered or permitted” work. Employees on flexible work schedules may not earn overtime pay as a result of including "suffered or permitted" hours (under FLSA) as hours of work. (Under the “suffered or permitted” concept, any work in excess of 40 hours a week performed prior to or after established shift hours or during a prescribed lunch period by an employee for the benefit of the agency, whether requested or not, is working time if the manager or supervisor knows of the work or has reason to believe it is being performed.) For employees exempt from the FLSA, overtime pay generally is required by 5 U.S.C. 5542 when hours of work in excess of 8 hours a day or 40 hours during an administrative workweek are officially ordered or approved and performed by the employee. For other situations, please check with your servicing Human Resources Office.
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  • Agencies have their own policies and procedures that determine how its employees may apply for a telework arrangement. In general, employees should be prepared to make a business-based proposal for a proposal to telework, rather than base the request to telework on personal considerations. At the very least, in addition to describing logistics like location and frequency, you should be able to discuss how you will accomplish your work without adverse effect on your organization and/or co-workers.

    While an employee may request a telework arrangement in writing or verbally (depending on the agency’s policy), the Telework Enhancement Act of 2010 requires that a written telework agreement between the supervisor and employee be in place before s/he can begin to telework. This agreement outlines the specifics of the telework arrangement (e.g., location of telework, expectations). Also, you will be required to successfully complete an interactive telework training program before you will be allowed to telework. Note that the head of the agency has discretion to exempt employees from this training requirement if they have already been participating in telework.
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  • An employee must comply with his or her agency’s policies for earning credit hours. Credit hours are any hours within a flexible work schedule in excess of an employee’s basic work requirement and which the employee elects to work to vary the length of a workweek or a workday. Agency plans should address any policies on limiting or restricting the earning and use of credit hours. The law prohibits carrying over more than 24-credit hours from one pay period to the next (5 U.S.C. 6126).
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  • Government employees suffering work-related injuries and/or damages at the alternative worksite are covered by the Military Personnel and Civilian Employees Claims Act, the Federal Tort Claims Act, or the Federal Employees’ Compensation Act (workers’ compensation).
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  • An adjustment of work schedules for religious observances may be approved for an employee whose personal religious beliefs require that he or she abstain from work at certain times of the workday or workweek. As long as the adjustment to the work schedule does not interfere with accomplishing the agency’s mission, the employee must be permitted to work alternative work hours so he or she can meet his or her religious obligation while fulfilling his or her basic work requirements. For additional information, see http://www.opm.gov/oca/worksch/html/reli.htm.An employee also may elect to use accrued annual leave or other paid time off, such as earned compensatory time off, earned compensatory time off for travel, or earned credit hours for this purpose.
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  • If an employee or the family of an employee believes illness or on-the-job death resulted from a work related incident, they will be able to file a workers’ compensation claim. However, the Department of Labor makes determinations on entitlement to workers’ compensation, and each case is judged on its own merits. To apply for workers’compensation benefits, contact your local servicing human resources office. Information on workers’ compensation benefits for Federal employees can be found at www.dol.gov/esa/regs/compliance/owcp/fecacont.htm or by telephone at (866-OWCP-IVR (866-692-7487).
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  • Different rules apply depending on whether you are a bargaining unit or non-bargaining unit employee and whether your agency has a flexible or compressed work schedule. Bargaining unit employees may participate in an alternative work schedule program only under the terms provided in a collective bargaining agreement. Therefore, an agency that wishes to establish a flexible or compressed work schedule program for bargaining unit employees must negotiate the establishment and terms of the program with the exclusive representative of the bargaining unit.

    A majority of affected employees in a non-bargaining unit must vote to be included in a compressed work schedule program when participation in the program is mandatory. For purposes of this vote, a majority is obtained when the number of affirmative votes exceeds 50 percent of the number of employees and supervisors in the organization proposed for inclusion in a compressed work schedule. (If participation in the compressed work program is voluntary for each employee, a vote is unnecessary because employees who elect not to participate are not included and are unaffected.)

    For additional information, see www.opm.gov/oca/worksch/HTML/AWScws.asp.

    Agencies may unilaterally install flexible work schedule (FWS) programs in units staffed by non-bargaining employees. For additional information, see www.opm.gov/oca/worksch/HTML/awsfws.asp.
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  • Employees are expected to report for work and perform the normal duties of their positions. If an employee fails to report for duty without an administratively acceptable reason for his or her absence, the employee could be considered absent without leave and may be subject to disciplinary action, up to and including removal from Federal service.  The agency makes the determination as to whether the employee has an administratively acceptable reason for his or her absence.

    When an employee reports for work, he or she is expected to first carry out lawful supervisory orders to work, and may later choose to appeal or grieve an order after complying with it.  An employee who refuses to comply with a supervisor’s order may be disciplined, up to and including removal from Federal service.   However, an employee may refuse to carry out a particular work assignment if, at the time the assignment is given, the employee reasonably believes carrying it out will endanger his or her safety or health.
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