The U.S. Office of Personnel Management (OPM) sent out a memo with additional guidance to Federal agencies on how to respond to Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) on March 7.

The memo addresses various questions that OPM has received from agencies and employees, including incorporating telework into continuity of operations plans (COOP). OPM strongly encourages agencies to continue to review and update their COOP plans.

OPM initially released “preliminary guidance” on March 3 telling agencies to prepare for the “potential impacts” of COVID-19. The preliminary guidance instructed that COOP guidelines be reviewed “to ensure telework has been fully incorporated and that as many employees as possible have been identified as telework employees in the plan, and are telework capable.”

In the new memo, OPM that Federal departments should ensure that as many employees as possible can work remotely. It added that “agencies are strongly encouraged to sign situational (ad hoc) telework agreements with all telework eligible employees currently without a signed telework agreement.”

Among other items the new guidance addressed were questions it received from agencies and employees based on various topics including:

  • Determination of COVID-19 as a Quarantinable Communicable Disease;
  • Sick Leave and Other Time off;
  • Weather and Safety Leave;
  • Evacuation Payments;
  • Employee Relations;
  • Hazardous Duty Pay;
  • Workplace Protections; and
  • Office of Workers Compensation Programs.
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Jordan Smith
Jordan Smith
Jordan Smith is a MeriTalk Senior Technology Reporter covering the intersection of government and technology.