DHS Hazardous Weather Policy Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Below are a number of frequently asked questions for DHS employees about the hazardous weather policy.
- How will I know if the DHS office where I work is placed on reduced services or closed due to weather conditions?
DHS staff should telephone their supervisor. You may also check www.okdhs.org.
- What is the definition of essential, non-essential or conditionally essential staff?
- Essential staff - employees who are considered responsible for basic minimum services and who are required to work when state services are temporarily reduced due to hazardous weather conditions.
- Non-essential staff - employees who are not responsible for basic minimum services when state services are temporarily reduced due to hazardous weather conditions.
- Conditionally essential staff - employees who are non-essential for all purposes except for activating events, at which time their status changes to essential. Examples of conditional essential staff include, but are not limited to, timekeepers when reduced services fall on the date of a payroll deadline or a child welfare specialist if notified that a child in his or her caseload requires immediate services.
- If the services within the DHS office where I work is reduced for everyone except essential staff, how will I know whether I am considered essential or not?
All staff are notified by their supervisor regarding their status as an essential, non-essential or conditionally essential employee prior to an DHS office being closed or placed on reduced services.
- What if the office where I work is open, but I can’t get to work because of road conditions where I live?
The normal leave request process applies. Staff may use workweek adjustment, comp-time, and annual leave. Enforced leave does not apply to hazardous weather conditions.
- If the office where I work is operating under reduced services or closed and employees get administrative leave, does it come from my annual or sick leave?
If you have been designated as non-essential and the office has been closed or is under reduced services, administrative leave rules apply and does not impact an employee’s sick or annual leave balances.
- If the office is open and I can’t get to work, what if I don’t have any annual leave to take?
Regular leave rules will apply; employees may use workweek adjustment, accrued compensatory time or leave without pay.
- Who do I call to know if the office has reopened or resumed providing full services?
DHS staff should telephone their supervisor. You may also check www.okdhs.org.
- I work at one of the 24-hour DHS institutions. Am I considered essential or not?
All employees at DHS institutions are considered essential and are required to report for duty. Due to the nature of services provided by DHS institutions, shelters and other residential care facilities, their services are not reduced during inclement weather. However, employees of 24-hour residential care facilities will accrue paid administrative leave if reduced services has been called by the appropriate authority in the county in which the facility is located. Accrual of administrative leave will be subject to the accrual limits provided by Merit Rule 530:10-15-71.
- If an essential employee works overtime on a reduced services day, is that employee entitled to administrative leave in addition to compensatory time or cash overtime pay?
No. Accrual of administrative leave by employees required to perform basic minimum services shall be limited to the hours of their regularly scheduled work periods, up to a maximum of 8 hours per day. Employees do not accrue administrative leave for work performed during overtime hours or on a holiday.
- An employee works at a location that is not closed or under reduced services due to weather, but lives in a county where offices are closed or under reduced services due to weather. If the employee reports to work and is considered essential, does the employee accrue administrative leave?
No. That decision is based on where the employee works, not where the employee lives.
- If a non-essential employee comes to work at an office that is closed or under reduced services, is the employee entitled to additional compensation or additional leave?
No. Non-essential staff are not entitled to additional leave or additional compensation when an office is under reduced services due to weather.
- If I work an alternate work schedule and services in my office are reduced or the office is closed on my regularly scheduled day off, am I entitled to additional leave or additional compensation?
No. The granting of administrative leave applies only to employees scheduled to work during the time period of the closure or reduced services. It does not apply to employees who are absent during the closure or reduction on any previously approved leave.
- If I am non-essential employee who works an alternate work schedule and reduced service or office closure occurs on my regularly scheduled work day, how much paid administrative leave am I entitled?
Merit Rule 530:10-15-71 states, "Accrual of administrative leave by employees required to perform basic minimum services shall be limited to the hours of their regularly scheduled work periods, up to a maximum of 8 hours per day." If reduced services or temporary office closure occur on a non-essential employee's 9-hour day, the employee receives up to 8 hours of administrative leave and uses 1 hours of available annual leave or compensatory time to account for additional scheduled hours. Workweek adjustment could be utilized with supervisory approval. For example, if a non-essential employee was scheduled to work 9 hours, and his or her office was on reduced services for an entire day, the employee would be entitled to 8 hours of administrative leave and charged 1 hour of annual leave or compensatory time.
- If I telecommute and my regular duty station is on reduced services or closed on my scheduled telecommuting day, am I required to work from my alternate work location?
Yes. The alternate work location would not be considered on reduced services or closed. The employee would not be entitled to additional leave or additional compensation. Staff wishing to take leave would follow the normal leave request process.
- Hazardous weather has occurred on my normally scheduled day to telecommute, but I am unable to work from my alternate work location. My regular duty station is not on reduced services or closed. Am I required to go to my regular duty station to work?
Yes. Employees who are unable to work at their alternate work location will be expected to report to their regular duty station. If the employee is unable to travel to the regular duty station, the normal leave request process applies. Staff may use workweek adjustment, compensatory time and annual leave. Enforced leave does not apply to hazardous weather conditions.
- I am an essential staff member and have been given permission to perform basic minimum services from home during periods when my office is on reduced services or closed. Am I entitled to accrue paid administrative leave?
No. OMES-Human Capital Management has ruled that because the intent of the Merit Rule is for the safety of the public, under these circumstances the essential employee would be paid his or her regular salary, but would not qualify for administrative leave. Employees in these circumstances would be able to fulfill their obligations of work without the need for traveling. Thus, they do not put themselves or the public in danger by doing so.
- I am an essential staff member. My office has been placed on reduced services or closed on my regularly scheduled telecommuting day. Can I be required to report to work in my office (regular duty station)?
Yes. Under our formal telecommuting agreements, supervisors have the right to reassign duty stations as needed. The essential staff member would be eligible to accrue administrative leave if they physically reported to the office for duty.
- I am an essential staff member, work an alternate work schedule and my office is on reduced services or closed on my regularly scheduled day to work. Am I required to work my normal schedule if it exceeds 8 hours?
You are required to account for the total hours scheduled in your work day. This could be a combination of hours worked, annual leave, comp time or work week adjustment, if permitted. For instance, an employee, in these circumstances, who would normally work a 9-hour day might work 9 hours, or work 8 hours and take 1 hour of annual leave, with supervisory approval. Accrual of administrative leave is subject to the limitations of Merit Rule 530:10-15-71.
- I am non-exempt under the Fair Labor Standards Act. Can I be considered an essential staff member during reduced services or office closure?
Yes. The designation of essential or non-essential during periods of reduced services or office closure is based on those functions required to provide basic minimum services.
- If I work extra hours in a workweek in which services were reduced or the office was closed, do I have to workweek adjust before using administrative leave?
No. If extra work is completed outside of an employee’s work hours, the administrative leave for days of office closure or reduced services does NOT have to be workweek adjusted. For instance, on a week with inclement weather, work completed on an employee’s regular day off (RDO) or before/after regularly scheduled hours will not be used in lieu of administrative leave given during reduced services or office closures.
- If I leave work early because I notice the weather conditions are deteriorating, do I get administrative leave if the office is eventually put on reduced services or closed?
An employee who leaves earlier than a designated early dismissal time, or who arrives later than a designated late arrival time, shall be charged leave for the excess time. For example, if an early dismissal is authorized for 3:00 p.m. and an employee leaves at 2:00 p.m., the employee will be charged one hour of leave, and the remainder of the work hours will charged as administrative leave. Similarly, if a late arrival is authorized for 10:00 a.m. and the employee arrives at 11:00 a.m., the employee shall be charged one hour of leave.