DC’s famed snow day specials (which Barred in DC frequently posts) at bars and restaurants may be less special going forward. That’s because last week OPM finally, as required by the Administrative Leave Act of 2016 (passed Dec 2016), issued its final regulations about the new “weather and safety leave.” Under the new regulations, which are effective May 10th, OPM has essentially codified existing practice for snow days. One major change, however, may lead to fewer federal employees being able to take advantage of drink & food specials during the day.
Under the new regulations, any employee who has a telework agreement will be required to telework, period, on a snow day, so long as it was “reasonably anticipated” which would allow the employee notice that he/she needs to take laptop home, etc. Previously, OPM had mandated that folks who already were on their regular telework day had to telework on snow days; many agencies required all teleworkers to do so as well but many did not (neither agency I’ve worked for did, hence the frequent posts over the years). This means that if you have a telework agreement but only actually telework a couple times a year situationally, you will be required to telework or take annual leave when there’s a snow day, though you may be in luck if your power is out at your house. OPM thinks that it will be rare that a weather day off wouldn’t be reasonably anticipated, referring to floods, fires, and earthquakes as times where you wouldn’t be prepared. It will be up to each agency to figure out what it means to be “reasonably anticipated” in the end.
So what if you still want to keep your #snowdayfundays and you’re a fed? Well, you could always terminate your telework agreement (depending on your agency, you might be able to re-up and then cancel depending on the season); an agency can’t generally force you to sign a telework agreement. OPM doesn’t believe that a significant number of employees will actually do this, but I know there will be many. Unlike employees in the private sector, the federal government generally doesn’t allow you to telework at a coffee shop or a restaurant.