Telework and Excused Absence During Hazardous Conditions

Photo of a car buried in snow with a person trying to reach inside, and text overlay reading, Bosses be like, "you still coming to work, right?"As a reminder, our CBA has several protections for bargaining unit employees (BUEs) affected by hazardous conditions:

  • Article 20 (Administrative Leave / Excused Absence), Section 4:
    • “If hazardous weather or other emergency conditions occur during the workday and an administrative order to close the workplace has not been issued, the Employer may grant excused absence for all or part of the workday if the employee provides the supervisor with acceptable written justification that a reasonable effort was made to get to work, but severe weather or other emergency conditions prevented him or her from doing so. The Employer’s decision will be fair and equitable. If the employee has a disability, his or her disability must be taken into account in determining what constitutes a reasonable effort. If the supervisor denies a written request for excused absence, upon request, the denial will be in writing.”
  • Article 26 (Telework), Section 6:
    • “Participation in the telework program is voluntary. However, the Employer may require employees to work at an alternate site in case of emergency situations. For example, telework-ready employees (i.e. employees with a signed telework agreement) are required to work at their approved alternate duty station during emergencies (e.g., Federal offices are closed, Federal offices are on delayed arrival, the Agency is operating under a Continuity of Operations Plan, etc.). On a case-by-case basis, a telework-ready employee may request and the Employer may provide excused absence for a part or all of the day during an emergency and/or inclement weather situations if the employees telework site is negatively impacted by the emergency (e.g., disruption of electricity or internet access, loss of heat, etc.) or if the employee’s duties are such that he or she cannot continue to work without contact with the regular worksite, or under other extenuating circumstances related to the emergency that impede the employees ability to perform telework. If excused absence is not granted, telework-ready employees must be prepared to telework for the entire workday, or take unscheduled leave, or a combination of both for the entire workday. Employees may also request LWOP if an employee does not have available paid leave or other paid time off (e.g., earned compensatory time off) to his or her credit and is impacted by the emergency.”

Remember that, if you wish to dispute a management decision or action, we only have a total of 30 days (from when you learn of the decision or action) to investigate, attempt formal resolution, prepare, and file a grievance. You must inform your chapter president or another chapter representative of such management decision or action immediately after you learn about it to allow us the maximum time to work on your case.

Please also remember to document all management decisions in writing. If not provided in writing, you should document oral statements in a “thank you” email to your supervisor recapping the conversation. Mark this email with delivery and read receipt requests.

If you have questions or other input on this subject, please share them with your chapter president directly.

Author: chapterpresident

I have worked in the FDA since 1990 in a variety of positions. I currently serve as chapter president of NTEU Chapter 254, representing FDA employees in Arkansas, Colorado, Iowa, Kansas, Missouri, Nebraska, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Texas, and Utah.