Click here to skip navigation
This website uses features which update page content based on user actions. If you are using assistive technology to view web content, please ensure your settings allow for the page content to update after initial load (this is sometimes called "forms mode"). Additionally, if you are using assistive technology and would like to be notified of items via alert boxes, please follow this link to enable alert boxes for your session profile.
An official website of the United States Government.
Skip Navigation

In This Section

Pandemic Information Work & Hiring Arrangements

 

Overview

In the event of a pandemic health crisis, employees of agencies may need to work from home or alter their work arrangements. The left navigation bar provides links to information on how to guide their employees on what changes they can make to their work arrangements during a pandemic health crisis.

Workforce Planning Guidance

Agencies may need to reanalyze their workforce and employment needs in light of a pandemic health crisis. OPM offers a workforce planning model and other resources to help agencies perform a workforce analysis and develop a comprehensive workforce plan.

Guidance on Scheduling Work and Granting Time Off to Permit Federal Employees to Participate in Volunteer Activities

The Office of Personnel Management (OPM) offers guidance to support the efforts of departments and agencies to encourage employee participation in volunteer activities. Departments and agencies should also review any applicable regulations or policies and collective bargaining agreements before making determinations on these matters.

Work Flexibilities

The Federal Government offers flexible work arrangements to assist employees who are affected by a pandemic influenza.

Evacuation Pay

Evacuation payments may be made to employees or their dependents, or both, who are ordered to be evacuated from or within the United States and certain nonforeign areas in the national interest because of natural disasters or for military or other reasons that create imminent danger to the lives of the employees, their immediate family, or their dependents.

Alternative Work Schedules

An agency may implement alternative work schedules (AWS) instead of traditional fixed work schedules. Within rules established by the agency, AWS can enable employees to have work schedules that help the employee balance work and family or personal responsibilities. There are two categories of AWS:

  • A Flexible Work Schedule consists of workdays with core hours and flexible hours. Core hours are the designated period of the day when all employees must be at work. Flexible hours are the part of the workday when employees may choose their time of arrival and departure. A flexible work schedule may enable an employee to complete the basic 80-hour biweekly work requirement in less than 10 workdays.
  • A Compressed Work Schedule is a fixed work schedule under which the employee's arrival and departure times may not vary. A compressed work schedule enables a full-time employee to complete the basic 80-hour biweekly work requirement in less than 10 workdays.

Flexible Work Arrangements

Flexible Work Schedules (FWS)

FWS consist of workdays with core hours and flexible hours. Core hours are the designated period of the day when all employees must be at work. Flexible hours are the part of the workday employees may (within limits or "bands") choose their time of arrival and departure.

FWS are voluntary and subject to approval of the supervisor or manager.

Various types of FWS arrangements provide different degrees of flexibility: :

  • Flexitour is a schedule in which an employee is allowed to select starting and stopping times within the flexible hours. Once selected, the hours are fixed until the agency provides the opportunity to select different starting and stopping hours.
  • A gliding schedule is a schedule in which a full-time employee has a basic work requirement of 8 hours in each day and 40 hours in each week. The employee may select a starting and stopping time each day and may change starting and stopping times daily within the established flexible hours.
  • A variable day schedule is a work schedule containing core hours on each workday in the week in which a full-time employee has a basic work requirement of 40 hours in each week of a biweekly pay period. However, the employee may vary the number of hours on a given workday within the limits established for the organization.
  • A variable workweek schedule is a work schedule containing core hours on each workday in the biweekly pay period in which a full-time employee has a basic work requirement of 80 hours for the biweekly pay period. The employee may vary the number of hours worked on a given workday or the number of hours each week within the limits established for the organization.
  • A maxiflex schedule is a work schedule that contains core hours on fewer than 10 workdays in the biweekly pay period in which a full-time employee has a basic work requirement of 80 hours for the biweekly pay period. The employee may vary the number of hours worked on a given workday or the number of hours each week within the limits established for the organization.

The following provisions apply to using credit hours under an FWS program:

  • Credit hours are any hours within an FWS that are in excess of an employee's basic work requirement (e.g., 40 hours a week) which the employee elects to work to vary the length of a workweek or a workday.
  • OPM regulations prohibit SES members from accumulating credit hours under AWS programs (5 CFR 610.408.)
  • An employee who is not a member of the SES may request compensatory time off in lieu of payment for irregular or occasional overtime work or regularly scheduled overtime work (5 U.S.C. 6123(a)(1)).
  • The law prohibits carrying over more than 24 credit hours from one pay period to the next (5 U.S.C. 6126.)

Premium pay for night work generally is not paid to a General Schedule (GS) employee solely because the employee elects to work credit hours, or elects a time of arrival or departure, at a time when night pay is authorized.

Agencies must pay night pay for all designated core hours worked between 6 p.m. and 6 a.m. and for any regularly scheduled overtime work between those hours.

A full-time FWS employee is limited to 8 hours of basic pay on holidays.

A part-time FWS employee is entitled to basic pay for the number of hours scheduled for the holiday, not to exceed 8 hours (5 U.S.C. 6124).

If an Executive order is issued granting a "half-day" holiday, full-time FWS employees are entitled to basic pay for the last half of their "basic work requirement" (i.e., non-overtime hours) on that day, not to exceed 4 hours.

A full-time FWS employee earns Sunday premium pay for an entire non-overtime regularly scheduled tour of duty (not to exceed 8 hours) that begins or ends on Sunday. Sunday premium pay may not be paid for periods of nonwork, including leave, holidays, and excused absence.

Compressed Work Schedules (CWS)

Compressed Work Schedules (CWS) are fixed work schedules that allow full-time employees to complete the basic 80-hour biweekly work requirement in less than 10 workdays, subject to the following provisions:

  • For employees in a bargaining unit: The agency must successfully negotiate a CWS program with the union for a represented group of employees prior to implementation (5 U.S.C. 6130.)
  • For employees not in a bargaining unit: The agency must secure a favorable vote from the majority of employees in the affected group before implementing a CWS program (5 U.S.C. 6127(b)(1))
  • Credit hours are not permitted under a CWS program.
  • An employee on a CWS may request compensatory time off only for the performance of irregular or occasional overtime work.
  • Compensatory time off may not be approved for any member of the Senior Executive Service (SES.)
  • The normal premium pay rules apply for night pay. See 5 CFR 550.121 and 122 for GS employees and 5 CFR 532.505 for prevailing rate (wage) employees.
  • An employee normally is excused from work and entitled to basic pay for the number of hours of his or her CWS on a holiday.
  • If the President issues an Executive order granting a "half-day" holiday, full-time CWS employees are normally excused from work during the last half of their "basic work requirement" (i.e., nonovertime hours) on that day.
  • Holiday premium pay (equal to 100 percent of the rate of basic pay) is paid for non-overtime hours of work that fall within the hours regularly scheduled on the holiday.
  • Sunday premium pay is paid for non-overtime work performed by full-time employees. Sunday premium pay is paid for the entire non-overtime regularly scheduled tour of duty that begins or ends on Sunday for an employee on a CWS. Sunday premium pay may not be paid for periods of non-work, including leave, holidays, and excused absence.

Back to Top

Telework Guidance

In recent years, telework has become increasingly widespread and formalized, with legislative mandates as well as new programmatic and policy supports and structures. The information in this section is intended to help Federal managers and employees understand how to make telework a routine part of doing business, as well as how to integrate telework into planning for an emergency, including a pandemic health crisis. OPM will also distribute the document called A Guide to Telework in the Federal Government separately as general guidance. We include it here to ensure this material is comprehensive for agency use in preparing for pandemic influenza.

Accomplishing Work

What Can A Supervisor Do To Accomplish Work During a Pandemic Health Crisis?

Here are some actions you can take in advance of a pandemic health crisis to ensure you can accomplish work if such a crisis occurs:

  1. Discuss the potential pandemic and the possibility of an outbreak with your employees
    Explain that should a pandemic health crisis occur, Government operations will continue. Stress need for employees to plan for how they will continue to work (in office, at alternative site, or from home)
  2. Remind your employees about the availability of information on the Pandemic website and Flu website.
  3. Update office emergency plan, including updating all employee emergency contact information and establishing or updating a telephone tree
  4. Reassess all positions and employees for potential telework agreements
    • Establish agreements/procedures in accordance with agency's telework plan and offer telework agreements to eligible employees
    • Implement telework arrangements as broadly as possible so systems and employees are fully prepared for remote work
  5. Review work schedules and work arrangements for all employees
    If your agency policy permits alternative work schedules (AWS), consider asking employees to work:
    • A Flexible work schedule, which allows an employee to complete the basic 80-hour biweekly work requirement in less than 10 workdays. The employee may vary his or her arrival and departure times and AWS day off.
    • A Compressed work schedule, which also allows an employee to complete the basic 80-hour biweekly work requirement in less than 10 workdays. The employee may not vary his or her arrival and departure times or AWS day off under a compressed work schedule.
  6. Conduct a test of:
    • Telework arrangements with all participating employees
    • Telephone trees or similar employee contact procedures
  7. Discuss agency plans and processes for
    • Communicating the status of agency operations with employees
    • Communicating the status of employees with supervisors and managers

Here are some actions you can take if a pandemic health crisis occurs:

  1. Implement your emergency plan.
  2. Adjust emergency plan, work assignments, and work arrangements as dictated by the crisis and employee availability.
  3. If your workplace should become unsafe, see the Workplace Disruptions factsheet.

Hiring Flexibilities

Hiring Flexibilities You Can Use Now Without OPM Approval

Direct-Hire Authorities (DHA) (Governmentwide and Already Approved)

An agency may immediately appoint any qualified individual to the following medical occupations at all grades and geographic locations after issuing public notice: Diagnostic Radiologic Technologist, GS-0647; Medical Officer, GS-0602; Nurse, GS 0610, GS-0620; and Pharmacist, GS-0660; Information Technology (Information Security), positions for GS-2210 at the GS-9 and above grade levels at all locations. positions In addition, OPM recently authorized a nationwide direct-hire authority for Veterinary Medical Officers, GS-0701, at the GS-11 through GS-15. Hiring timeframes are reduced drastically because rating, ranking, and veterans' preference do not apply. However, OPM encourages appointing qualified veterans' preference eligibles whenever possible.

30-Day Critical-Need Appointment

This authority may be useful to immediately appoint individuals with specialized knowledge, skills, abilities, or competencies to address the outbreak while the agency explores other longer-term staffing options. Agencies may make 30-day appointments and may extend them for an additional 30 days. (5 CFR 213.3102(i)(2))

1-Year, 1040 Work Hours per Year Appointments in Remote/Isolated Locations

This authority may be useful to immediately handle an outbreak affecting only an isolated area. It allows 1-year, 1040 work hours per year in remote/isolated locations. Agencies may appoint individuals for up to 1 year to work less than 1040 hours per year. Appointments may be extended in 1-year increments indefinitely. (5 CFR 213.3102(i)(2))

Reappointing Former Federal Employees

Agencies may reappoint people previously employed under a career or career-conditional appointment by reinstatement to a competitive service position. (5 CFR 315 subpart D)

Reemploying Annuitants Without Salary Offset Waiver

Agencies have the authority to reappoint individuals who are willing to work without a salary offset waiver through any applicable hiring authority (e.g., a temporary appointment under 5 CFR part 316). (5 U.S.C. 8344 or 8468)

Reemploying Annuitants With Salary Offset Waiver

The National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) for Fiscal Year 2010, authorizes the head of an agency to grant their own dual compensation (salary off-set) waivers on a temporary basis under certain specified circumstances. Re-employment is limited to one year or less, however as a temporary appointment, it may be extended for an additional year (i.e., 2years total). Reemployment with this salary off-set waiver may not exceed 2.5 percent of the agency's full-time workforce at any given time. If re-employment exceeds 1 percent, agencies are required to provide an explanation and justification to the U.S. Congress and OPM. Agencies are required to report their usage no later than February 1 of each year through 2015. This authority expires on October 27, 2014.

Employing Faculty Members

This authority may be useful to hire top scientists from academia to assist agencies in medical research. Agencies may appoint faculty members holding full faculty status from accredited colleges and universities, to scientific, professional, or analytical positions. Appointments are limited to 130 working days per year. (5 CFR 213.3102(o))

Career Transition Assistance Plan (CTAP) and Interagency CTAP (ICTAP)

Advertising in the local commuting area to determine if individuals eligible under these programs are available may help agencies identify previously unknown, well-qualified, displaced Federal employees for immediate temporary, term, or permanent employment. These programs provide selection priority to well-qualified current and former displaced employees. (5 CFR 330, subparts F and G)

Agency Reemployment Priority List (RPL)

Current and former employees on agency RPLs are another immediate source of qualified individuals available for temporary, term, or permanent competitive service appointments. The RPL provides selection priority for agency employees who will be or were separated by reduction in force or who have recovered from a work-related injury after more than 1 year. (5 CFR 330)

120 Days or Less Appointments

An agency may appoint an employee with specialized skills or competencies from another agency for up to 120 days without regard to CTAP or ICTAP selection priority. (5 CFR 330, subparts F and G)

Using Private Sector Temporaries

Agencies may contract with private sector temporary firms for services to meet their emergency needs. These contracts may be for 120 days and may be extended for an additional 120 days subject to displaced employee procedures. Agencies considering this flexibility should contact their procurement staff. (5 CFR 300, subpart E)

Back to Top

Hiring Flexibilities Which Require OPM Approval

1-Year Temporary Emergency Need Appointments

OPM may grant use of this authority in response to an outbreak (e.g., to specific agencies and/or geographic locations) or upon request by an agency affected by a pandemic influenza outbreak. (5 CFR 213.3102(i)(3))

Reemploying Annuitants Without Salary Offset

Agencies may want to consider bringing retirees back to work in emergency situations or to supplement their workforce during a pandemic influenza outbreak. Upon request, OPM may delegate agency heads authority to waive the dual compensation reduction (salary offset) otherwise required for reemployed Federal civilian annuitants. OPM cannot approve waivers retroactively. (5 CFR 553, subpart B)

Agency-Specific Schedule A and B Appointments

OPM may authorize excepted service appointment authority for specific positions when competitive examining is not practical. (5 CFR 213)

Agency-Specific Direct Hire Authority (DHA)

Agencies may request Direct Hire Authority (DHA) for positions they need to fill based on a critical hiring need or severe shortage of candidates. OPM will expedite requests for agency-specific direct hire authority. (5 CFR 337, subpart B)

Reemploying Buyout Recipients

Agencies may also want to rehire retirees or others who left the Federal Government with buyouts. Depending upon the specific statute under which the retiree received the buyout, agencies may request a repayment waiver from OPM in unusual circumstances. Persons being considered for waivers must be the only qualified applicants available for the positions and possess expertise and special qualifications needed to respond to emergencies. (5 CFR 576, subpart B)

SES Limited Emergency Appointments

Agencies have the authority to make SES Limited Emergency appointments to career employees. OPM may approve agencies' requests to appoint individuals who are not current career employees, and will consider temporary space allocations for agencies who identify the need as essential. (5 CFR 317.601)

Back to Top

Hiring Strategies

What Hiring Strategies Could an Agency or Manager Use During a Pandemic Health Crisis

This website is designed to assist agencies as they prepare for and respond to a pandemic health crisis. For the latest information on contingency planning for a pandemic influenza, visit the Flu website. Readers should also review their agency policies, practices, and guidance prior to taking action.

NOTE: Regulatory procedures, agency policies, and collective bargaining agreements, if any, apply when using the following flexibilities.

The Office of Personnel Management (OPM) encourages agencies to consider the following five strategies for keeping organizations staffed in the event of a pandemic health crisis:

  1. Utilize your existing workforce. Detail or temporarily promote current employees into affected positions for up to 120 days. Agency Career Transition Assistant Plan (CTAP) selection priority does not apply to placements for up to 120 days. Agencies should check their internal policies and any collective bargaining agreements.
  2. Use critical need and short-term hiring flexibilities. Current regulations allow agencies to quickly fill jobs in both the competitive and excepted service for short durations with minimal restrictions. In addition, OPM may authorize agencies to use additional flexibilities in order to meet their needs. These include:

    Excepted Service Appointing Authorities

    • Intermittent or temporary appointments in remote/isolated locations: Under 5 CFR 213.3101(i)(1), an agency may appoint individuals for up to 1 year to work less than 1040 hours per year; appointments may be extended in 1 year increments indefinitely.
    • 30-Day Critical Need: Under 5 CFR 213.3102(i)(2), an agency may make 30-day appointments and may extend them for up to an additional 30 days.
    • 1-year temporary appointment: Under 5 CFR 213.3101(i)(3), OPM may authorize agencies to make appointments on a temporary basis for up to 1 year, which may be extended (without additional OPM approval) for up to another year. OPM will notify agencies immediately upon authorization of this authority.

      The following appointing authorities do not require public notice and may be effected without regard to CTAP and ICTAP selection priority. Veterans' preference, however, does apply. Agencies may use these authorities to fill senior-level (SL) positions; however, each senior-level space allocation must be reported to OPM within 10 days after the appointment.
      • Competitive Temporary Appointments: An agency may make competitive service appointments of 120 days or less without regard to CTAP or ICTAP selection priority. However, soliciting eligibles under these programs for longer appointments may help identify one or more previously unknown, well-qualified, displaced Federal employees available for immediate employment. (See 5 CFR part 316 and part 330, subparts F and G.)
      • SES Limited Appointments: Under 5 CFR 317.601, agencies may make SES Limited Term or Limited Emergency appointments of career employees, as long as the appointment is within the space allocation limit previously authorized by OPM. Agencies may seek a temporary allocation from OPM if space is not currently available. Agencies may also seek authority from OPM to make Limited Term or Limited Emergency appointments of non-career employees using an automated form generated through the Executive and Schedule C System.
  3. Use Direct-Hire Authority. The Direct-Hire Authority (DHA) allows agencies to hire quickly to meet mission-critical staffing needs or severe shortages. Agencies may immediately appoint any qualified individual to a covered position after issuing public notice. DHA can drastically reduce hiring timeframes because rating and ranking is not required. Although veterans' preference does not apply under DHA, qualified candidates with veterans' preference should be selected as they are found, just as any qualified non-preference eligible candidate would be. OPM has provided DHA for a number of categories Governmentwide:
    • Diagnostic Radiologic Technologist, GS-0647; all grade levels and locations
    • Medical Officer, GS-0602; all grade levels and locations
    • Nurse, GS-0610, GS-0620; all grade levels and locations
    • Pharmacist, GS-0660; all grade levels and locations
    • Veterinary Medical Officer, GS-0701; grades 11 through 15 nationwide and in overseas territories and commonwealths
    • In addition, OPM has provided several agency-specific direct hire authorities. OPM encourages managers and supervisors to check with their human resources office to determine whether the agency has DHA for positions they need to fill. Agencies may request additional DHAs from OPM based on a critical hiring need or severe shortage of candidates. OPM will expedite requests for agency-specific DHA.
  4. Use your agency-specific excepted service authority. OPM has provided some agencies with their own Schedule A or B hiring authority for specific positions when competitive examining was not practical. Supervisors and managers should check with their human resources office to determine whether the agency has a Schedule A or B authority for the positions they need to fill. If so, this authority can be used without public notice or regard to CTAP and ICTAP selection priority. Veterans' preference, however, does apply. Agencies needing a Schedule A or B authority should contact OPM for more details.
  5. Go where the talent is. During an emergency, a manager or supervisor may need to quickly find people who possess the competencies needed to perform the work of the agency. OPM encourages agencies to consider the following:
    • Reemploying Annuitants: Agencies may wish to consider rehiring retirees (with salary offset or, with OPM approval, a salary offset waiver if the annuitant refuses reemployment without a waiver) to deal with emergency situations or to supplement your workforce. Upon request, OPM is prepared to give agency heads authority to waive the salary offset otherwise required of reemployed Federal civilian annuitants. We cannot approve waivers retroactively.
    • Reemploying Buyout Recipients: In conjunction with the above authorities, agencies may also wish to rehire retirees or others who left the Federal Government with buyouts. Depending upon the specific statute under which the individual received the buyout, an agency may request a repayment waiver from OPM in truly unusual circumstances. Persons being considered for waivers must be the only qualified applicants available for the positions or possess expertise and special qualifications necessary to deal with an emergency such as a pandemic health crisis.
    • Agency Reemployment Priority Lists (RPL): Current/former employees affected by a reduction in force or recovered from a compensable injury on an agency's RPL are another immediate source of qualified individuals available for temporary, term, or permanent competitive service appointments. Conversely, in some cases, an agency may wish to make an exception to the RPL provisions to appoint someone else under 5 CFR 330.207(d).

Used separately or together, these five strategies will help agencies staff mission-critical positions during an emergency with a minimum of red-tape, while the agency considers longer-term staffing options. For less urgent needs, agencies should continue to use competitive examining or any applicable hiring flexibility the agency would otherwise use.

Back to Top

Control Panel