The Office of Personnel Management has proposed new rules on administrative leave. The proposed rules create strict guidelines for when administrative leave can be approved, and require second-level review by an agency official to “help prevent inappropriate uses and ensure that administrative leave is used sparingly.” Final rules are set to be issued by September 19, 2017.
The proposed rules would require agencies to keep records and submit data reports that specifically identify all times that administrative leave, investigatory leave, notice leave, and weather and safety leave are issued. The rules also prohibit any employee from being on administrative leave for more than 10 days in a calendar year.
If finalized, agencies would have to justify all use of administrative leave by showing one of the following:
- The employee’s absence directly relates to the agency’s mission. For example, an agency could grant administrative leave to an employee to attend a professional meeting that relates to the agency’s mission.
- The employee’s absence is for an official agency-sponsored activity, such as a blood drive held in an agency facility.
- The employee’s absence would be in the best interest of the agency or the government as a whole. Examples include allowing employees to participate in employee wellness events, such as flu vaccines, and ensuring employees have the opportunity to vote.
According to the proposed rules, agencies are prohibited from granting administrative leave to:
- Mark the memory of a deceased federal official;
- Permit an employee to participate in an event for his/her personal benefit or the benefit of an outside organization;
- Award an employee for job performance; or
- Allow an employee to participate in volunteer work that is not officially-sponsored by the agency.
Importantly, the proposed rules state that investigative and notice leave may only be used when an agency official determines that the employee’s presence at work could pose a threat to the employee or others, result in loss or damage to government property, result in destruction of evidence relevant to an investigation, or otherwise jeopardize the legitimacy of government interests. Before using these options, agencies are required to consider alternatives to avoid or minimize the use of paid leave, such as changing the employee’s duties or work location.
Call Alan Lescht and Associates, P.C., at (202) 463-6036, or email us, if you questions about federal employee administrative leave. We offer strategic and results-driven legal services to federal government employees around the world.