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Washington, D.C. -- The conditions under which federal employees may earn compensatory time off for official travel during non-business hours are laid out in interim rules published by the U.S. Office of Personnel Management in today's Federal Register.
OPM Director Kay Coles James said the new rules, mandated by provisions in the Federal Workforce Flexibility Act of 2004, allow specific categories of federal employees to earn compensatory (comp) time for travel during uncompensated, non-work hours. Employees who receive any form of compensation for the hours in question during the official travel period may not also earn compensatory time off for travel for the same period.
"The new rules will now allow federal employees to be credited with time off for uncompensated periods of official travel that occur during non-work hours," said James. "This is a benefit for federal employees, not often available in the private sector, and these regulations implement legislation passed by Congress late last year. I appreciate the valuable input provided by employees and stakeholders throughout the development of the rules, especially from NTEU President Colleen Kelley."
Comp time for travel rules are effective January 28, 2005, and provide a number of definitions and conditions, including "travel" and "travel status," which individuals must meet to be eligible for this new form of time off from work.
For instance, travel status is defined as the time an employee actually spends traveling between the official duty station and a temporary duty station. Travel status also includes the "usual waiting time" that precedes or interrupts travel. Usual waiting times vary and can depend on a number of factors, including whether the travel is for a domestic or international flight.
Authorization for providing compensatory time off to traveling federal employees is contained in provisions of the Federal Workforce Flexibility Act of 2004.
Today's rules address also how and if compensatory time is earned for such commonplace occurrences as layovers for connecting flights and weather-related flight delays. In addition, the rules state agencies may allow employees to accumulate compensatory time in increments of 6 minutes or 15 minutes. Employees will forfeit accrued comp time not used within 26 pay periods (52 weeks) of it being earned.
Where possible, OPM based travel definitions on existing laws and regulations.
Our mission is to Recruit, Retain and Honor a World-Class Workforce to Serve the American People. OPM supports U.S. agencies with personnel services and policy leadership including staffing tools, guidance on labor-management relations and programs to improve work force performance.