OPM Begins Implementing New Administrative Leave Rules
Federal employees’ use of administrative leave is the target of a new rule that went into effect late last week. Though the rule is actually an implementation of the 2016 Administrative Leave Act, which was approved as a component of the 2017 National Defense Authorization Act, it was only formally added to the Federal Register last Thursday, as highlighted by Government Executive.
The rule issues “new regulations on the granting and recording of administrative leave, investigative leave, notice leave, and weather and safety leave” creating “new categories of statutorily authorized paid leave and established parameters for their use by Federal agencies.”
One of the new categories created by the rule, “notice leave,” allows agencies to act before 10 days of administrative leave are exhausted in instances where employees have received notice of an adverse action taken against them.
The regulations are ultimately a response to a sense of Congress expressing “the need for legislation to address concerns that usage of administrative leave had sometimes exceeded reasonable amounts and resulted in significant costs to the Government.” In attempting to address this ostensible regulatory oversight, Congress laid out three goals, as stated in the rule:
(1) use administrative leave sparingly and reasonably
(2) consider alternatives to use of administrative leave when employees are under investigation
(3) act expeditiously to conclude investigations and either return the employee to duty or take an appropriate personnel action.
(4) keep accurate records regarding the use of administrative leave for various purposes
Both notice leave and investigative leave, the other new category created by the rule, may be used by agencies in 30-day increments, but must be reported to Congress when they exceed the 90 day mark.
Senior Executives Association President Bill Valdez called the bill a “thoughtful, targeted solution [that] will be implemented to alleviate the problem of administrative leave misuse and abuse, while maintaining agency flexibility, due process and employee rights,” noting that “"Misuse of paid administrative leave has long been a problem that only served to waste taxpayer resources and unduly hold public servants in a fruitless limbo status, denying them rights to challenge agency determinations.”
The rule is open for comment until August 14th, after which point agencies have a 270-day window to develop their own policies for implementation.
Posted in General News