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The Department of Energy (DOE) is actively monitoring the 2019 Novel Coronavirus (COVID-

An inbox dedicated to COVID-19 questions (COVID-19inquiries@hq.doe.gov) has been established to answer general, human resources, and non-emergency questions that federal employees, federal supervisors and on-site service support contractors may have.  The COVID-19 Response Team will follow up with you in an expeditious manner.

The attached Frequently Asked Questions have been developed to address what to do if you, your employee, or colleague meets one of the above conditions. It provides additional information regarding telework and leave flexibilities. Please view below. 

Excused Absence for Caregiving for Teleworking Employees + FAQ's

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) provided additional information on available flexibilities to address caregiving concerns.  Evacuation Pay Authority is a flexibility that allows agencies to grant excused absence (i.e., paid leave) to employees for non-work periods in a pandemic situation.  Under this authority, the Department is granting up to 20 hours of excused absence per pay period for Federal employees who are teleworking and unable to complete their work requirements due to caregiving responsibilities resulting from school and/or facility closures because of COVID-19.  The 20 hours of excused absence per pay period may be applied retroactively to March 13, 2020, and are available for use through June 19, 2020. The 20 hours of excused leave per pay period is paid at an employee’s full rate of pay. 

Supervisors have the authority to grant the excused absence and need to do so in a manner that maximizes the amount of telework an employee can reasonably perform during their established tour of duty, while considering the employee’s specific circumstances.  Please contact your servicing human resources representative for more information.

 

Granting Excused Absence

The granting of excused absence for reasons outlined in this document is not an entitlement and is subject to supervisory approval on a pay period basis. Supervisors must balance appropriate office coverage when granting the excused absence. The 20 hours of excused absence per pay period is available through June 19, 2020.  Supervisors may grant excused absence for employees who meet any of the following special circumstances:

  • The employee has a child or children who attend an elementary or secondary school that is closed due to the COVID-19 pandemic;
  • The employee has a younger child or children who are not of school age and normal childcare arrangements are not available due to the pandemic; or
  • The employee has other family members (e.g., adult child or elderly parent with special needs) in the home who require care or supervision, which is unavailable due to the pandemic.

Note:  It is important for employees to communicate their circumstances and any work requirement impacts to their supervisors to ensure all flexibilities are fully considered prior to approving excused absence.  Supervisors should respect employee privacy rights if circumstances include special needs or other health-related circumstances.

Factors to Consider When Granting Excused Absence

In making the determination regarding how much excused absence is reasonable/appropriate, supervisors should consider the following factors:

  • The age and care needs of the employee’s child or children;
  • The needs of any adults in the home requiring care by the employee;
  • The number of children or other persons in the home requiring care/supervision;
  • The presence in the home of other healthy caregivers who can share the caregiving responsibilities; and
  • The ability to perform work at times when direct care/supervision of a child or other person is                             not needed (e.g., while a child is sleeping).

Note:  Excused absence cannot be granted in lieu of sick leave or in instances where use of sick leave is appropriate.  Additionally, supervisors should continue to allow employees to establish flexible work schedules that allow for expanded hours in which telework can be performed.

Excused Absence for Caregiving

Frequently Asked Questions

1.Is excused absence under an Evacuation Pay Authority the same as Weather and Safety Leave?

The excused absence referenced in this document is different than weather and safety leave (WSL), which is granted when an employee is unable to telework due to their position, lack of equipment, connectivity issues, etc.  The use of WSL is not appropriate for caregiving responsibilities.    

2.Is there a limit on how much excused absence can be granted to employees who are unable to work due to caregiving responsibilities while teleworking during the COVID-19 pandemic?

DOE supervisors may approve up to 20 hours of excused absence per pay period through June 19, 2020. The 20 hours per pay period is prorated for part-time employees

3.Are there restrictions on how the 20 hours can be applied during the pay period?

There is flexibility on how the 20 hours of excused absence can be applied during the pay period.  The intent of granting 20 hours per pay period is to maximize the amount of telework an employee can perform during their established tour of duty, while providing some relief to better balance care giving responsibilities.  Supervisors must consider the needs of the office to continue to meet its mission when granting excused absence.

4.Can supervisors approve excused absence for caregiving of an ill family member?

This authority is not a substitute for regular sick leave in cases where a Federal employee would otherwise appropriately use regular sick leave; rather, it should be granted in situations where sick leave is not appropriate to address the circumstances.

5.Can supervisors approve excused absence for caregiving retroactively?

Yes. Supervisors can approve excused absence for caregiving retroactively to the date that a national emergency was declared (March 13, 2020).  If excused absence is approved for a prior pay period, then a prior pay period adjustment is required.

6.How can employees request excused absence for caregiving?

Requests for excused absence should be made in advance through the Automated Time and Attendance Production System (ATAAPS).  When requesting via ATAAPS is not possible, requests may be made via e-mail to the supervisor.

7.How is this leave different from the 80 hours of Families First sick leave?

Employees may use both types of leave if needed.  They are mutually exclusive and cannot overlap. 

The 80 hours of Families First Act sick leave is a separate entitlement provided by the CARES Act ( and is administered by the Department of Labor.  The 20 hours of excused leave per pay period for caregiving is permitted by the Secretary in accordance with Evacuation Pay Authority. 

8.How should employees code excused absence for caregiving due to Evacuation Pay Authority on their timecards?

In ATAAPS, employees must request leave for caregiving using the code “LV” for Excused Absence.  In the Remarks box, employees must write “COVID-19 Caregiving.” Supervisors must ensure that the remark is included prior to approving.  This note will allow the Department to track the amount of excused leave being used for caregiving responsibilities due to the Evacuation Pay Authority across the complex. 

If the leave is approved, the employee should verify the “LV” code is auto-populated to the timecard.  Employees should contact their Program Office Time and Attendance Coordinators for guidance if they experience any issues coding “LV”.  If the “LV” time did not automatically populate the timecard, employees should enter it manually.  However, if the “LV” code is not available to be selected, employees should use “LN” for Administrative Leave in the timecard.  The Office of the Chief Financial Officer will convert the “LN” to “LV” in ATAAPS after timecard has been certified.

Further, when recording leave on the timecard, employees must select the correct task number. Excused absence leave is to be charged to the COVID-19 task number, which has been set-up for all employees.

9.How is coding the 20 hours of excused leave per pay period for caregiving different from coding the 80 hours of Families First Act sick leave?

Both types of leave will be coded in ATAAPS as “LV”. 

  • The 80 hours of Families First Act sick leave will have a secondary leave code added once available by DFAS.  No statement should be added to the Remarks box.
  • The 20 hours of excused leave per pay period for caregiving will be identified by adding the statement “COVID-19 Caregiving” in the Remarks box. 

 

 

80 Hours of Families First Act Sick Leave

On March 18, 2020, the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA, herein referred to as Families First Act) was signed into law.  The Families First Act requires agencies to provide their federal employees with up to an additional 80 hours of paid sick leave for reasons related to COVID-19.  These 80 hours of Families First Act sick leave are in addition to employees’ regularly earned sick leave.  The Families First Act sick leave is available for use from April 1, 2020, through December 31, 2020.

The Defense Finance and Accounting Services (DFAS), who is the ATAAPS systems owner, is working to develop secondary leave codes specific to the Families First Act sick leave.  DFAS is estimating that it may take up to eight weeks for the secondary leave codes to become available.  If employees need to use Families First Act sick leave prior to the secondary leave codes being available in ATAAPS, they should request leave using the code “LV” (Leave Excused).  Once the codes are available in ATAAPS, revisions to the timecard can be made to add the secondary leave codes related to the Families First Act sick leave. 

Please note that once these retroactive corrections are made, it may generate an indebtedness based on the type of scenario as outlined below.  Employees and leave approving officials must record the dates and reason for the Families First Act sick leave so that the record can be revised.  If an indebtedness occurs, please be aware that waivers to the debt will not granted, no debt letters will be mailed, and 15 percent of the employee’s net disposable income will be deducted until the debt is repaid.  The Office of the Chief Human Capital Officer (HC), in consultation with the Office of the Chief Financial Officer (CF), will issue ATAAPS coding instructions to Resources Managers as soon as codes are available in the system.

Eligibility and Qualifying Events

The number of Families First Act sick leave hours provided to an employee depends on the employee’s work schedule (i.e., full, part-time). Under the Families First Act, paid sick leave is available if the employee is unable to work or telework because the employee:

1.Is subject to a Federal, State, or local quarantine or isolation order related to COVID-19;

2.Has been advised by a health care provider to self-quarantine related to COVID-19;

3.Is experiencing COVID-19 symptoms and is seeking a medical diagnosis;

4.Is caring for an individual subject to an order described in (1) or self-quarantine as described in (2); or

5.Is caring for a child whose school or place of care is closed (or child care provider is unavailable) for reasons related to COVID-19.

There is an additional qualifying event that allows the Secretary of Health and Human Services, in consultation with the Secretaries of Labor and Treasury, to expand this flexibility to a substantially similar condition to COVID-19.  If this occurs, additional guidance will be provided.  The table below provides a summary of key provisions of the Families First Act available to federal employees:

 

If

On

And covered by

Then

You are a  federal employee regardless of the appointment type (e.g., competitive, excepted service)

a full-time work schedule

COVID-19 Events 1, 2, and 3

You can request up to 80 hours of paid Families First Act sick leave (paid at 100% up to $511 daily and $5,110 total)

 

Note: Please check your LES as your daily rate of pay may be more than the maximum allowable amount. If this is the case, you will be paid less than 100%.

 

a part-time work schedule

COVID-19 Events 1, 2, and 3

You can request paid Families First Act sick leave for the number of hours that you normally work over a two-week period.

You are a  federal employee regardless of the appointment type (e.g., competitive, excepted service)

a full-time work schedule

COVID-19 Events 4 and 5

You will receive 2/3 of your regular rate of pay for the two week period up to $200 daily and $2,000 total

 

Note: This may translate to less than 2/3 of your regular rate of pay

 

a part-time work schedule

COVID-19 Events 4 and 5

You will receive 2/3 of your regular rate of pay for the two week equivalent.

 

What should employees know?

Employees should consider utilizing the Families First Act sick leave prior to using their regular leave depending on their personal leave balance and regular rate of pay. Under the Families First Act, employees are entitled to receive up to 80 hours of paid leave, however, like any other leave request, employees must submit a leave request through ATAAPS.  The 80 hours of Families First Act sick leave may only be used once. In the meantime, employees should provide advance notice to their supervisor so that alternate work arrangements can be made.

Once the 80 hours of Families First Act sick leave are depleted, employees will not be entitled to additional paid leave under the Families First Act.  However, employees can utilize their regular leave if it continues to be based on one of the above COVID-19 events.  Employees cannot use the Families First Act sick leave hours outside of the above listed qualifying events. The Families First Act sick leave can be used incrementally until the 80 hours of leave is depleted. It is important to note that the Families First Act sick leave hours are available only during the period of April 1 through December 31, 2020, and the hours will not be rolled over to the next leave year.

What should supervisors know?

Supervisors are responsible for their employees’ time and attendance. Families First Act sick leave requests need to be reviewed and approved like any other leave request. In order to prevent early return to work by ill employees who are mission essential and whose duties cannot be performed remotely, which could enhance transmission, and to avoid overburdening local health providers, supervisors may at their discretion waive the requirement for employees to provide a medical note if absent from work more than 3 days.  Supervisors may consider an employee’s self-certification as administratively acceptable evidence for the absence, regardless of the duration of the absence.  Therefore, supervisors should exercise flexibility and good judgement in approving this leave. 

Depending on the employee’s work schedule, a maximum of 80 hours of Families First Act sick leave can be used and those hours must be tracked in ATAAPS.  If at any time, a supervisor believes that there is leave abuse, please consult with an employee relations specialist. Although employees are entitled to this type of sick leave, supervisors have a responsibility to ensure its appropriate usage.

Families First Act Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

The Department of Labor has posted an overview for federal employees (best viewed in Chrome): https://www.dol.gov/sites/dolgov/files/WHD/posters/FFCRA_Poster_WH1422_Federal.pdf.  For guidance on ATAAPS coding, employees and supervisors should consult with their office’s time keeper. 

Can I split the hours used or do I need to use the 80 hours of Families First Act sick leave all at one time?

Federal employees have the discretion on the amount of leave used. Employees can use the 80 hours over a continuous two week period or apply it incrementally from April 1 through December 31, 2020 as outlined below. 

On workdays when the 80 hours of Families First Act sick leave does not cover all scheduled hours, an employee may have a mix of work hours, Families First Act sick leave, or annual leave. 

For those who are teleworking, employees may take 80 hours of Families First Act sick leave intermittently for any qualifying circumstance, but only when the employee is unavailable to telework because of a COVID-19 related reason.

For employees who must report to the physical office place, the 80 hours of Families First Act sick leave may only be used intermittently (i.e., in separate periods) for qualifying event (5) (caring for children).  For qualifying events (1), (2), (3), and (4), employees reporting to the physical office must use the hours of leave consecutively until there is no qualifying reason to take the leave or until the leave is exhausted. 

If I run out of the 80 hours of Families First Act sick leave, can I use my regular leave?

Yes. Under Families First Act, federal employees are entitled to 80 hours of COVID-19 sick leave. You will need to use other leave (including sick leave and annual leave) if you need to go beyond the 80 hours duration.

Am I required to use the 80 hours of Families First Act sick leave first before I can use my regular sick leave?

No, it is not required. However, it is encouraged that you consider utilizing the Families First Act sick leave hours for COVID-19 events prior to using your own personal leave. When making the determination, you should consider your current leave balance and your regular rate of pay. The Families First Act was created to provide relief during this time, and the available unused leave expires at the end of the calendar year.

I heard under the Families First Act that I may also be eligible for 10 weeks of partially paid leave. Is that true?

The additional 10 weeks of partially paid leave is covered in Division C of the Families First Act (Public Law 116-127 effective March 18, 2020).  It is highly unlikely that this applies to you as Division C does not apply to most DOE federal employees.

For DOE, only compensated employees serving on intermittent work schedules and temporary appointments (not to exceed one calendar year) are eligible for the 10 weeks of partially paid leave because of child care reasons.  These employees are considered “part-time” for the purposes of the Families First Act.  The Families First Act allows federal employees who would otherwise not qualify for Family Medical Leave Act (i.e., federal employees serving on compensated intermittent work schedules and temporary appointments in DOE) to receive up to 80 hours of Families First Act sick leave (specific Families First Act sick leave hours are determined in accordance with part-time employees) and provide 10 weeks of expanded protection for childcare related reasons.  Please contact your Shared Service Center if you have questions regarding eligibility. 

If I am home with my child because his or her school or place of care is closed, or child care provider is unavailable, do I get paid sick leave, expanded family and medical leave, or both—how do they interact?

Under the Families First Act, federal employees are eligible to receive 80 hours of sick leave paid at 2/3 of their regular rate of pay to care for children at home due to school closures and unavailability of childcare due to COVID-19 reasons. In addition, you may request to take other forms of leave, including sick leave and annual leave, to care for children at home.

What happens if I need to use the Families First sick leave prior to the DFAS codes being available in ATAAPS?

You should take “LV” (Excused Leave) for the required duration.  When the secondary leave codes become available in the system from DFAS, you will need to work with your Time and Attendance Coordinator to revise the timecard.  Depending on the reason you took the Families First Act sick leave, the retroactive change may result in a debt that you will have to repay.

For example, if you took the Families First Act sick leave to care for your dependent child(s), then it will only cover 2/3 of your rate of pay with a maximum of $200 a day or $2,000 total.  Because your original leave was paid at a full 100 percent of your regular rate of pay, a debt has occurred.  As a result, DFAS will not issue an indebtedness letter but will automatically start deducting 15% of your net disposable income in your future Leave and Earnings Statements until the debt is repaid. 

Are medical certifications required to use the 80 hours of Families First Act sick leave?

Employees are required to provide leave-approving officials with the following documentation/certification in support of using the 80 hours of Families First Act sick leave as described below.  At a minimum, all self-certification or medical documentation must include: employee’s name, requested leave dates, the qualifying COVID-19 reason/circumstance; and an oral or written statement that the employee is unable to work because of the qualifying COVID-19 reason.    

COVID-19 Event

Qualifying Circumstances

Type of Documentation Required

COVID-19 Event 1 

 

Employee is subject to a Federal, State, or local quarantine/isolation order

Provide the name of the government entity (federal, state or otherwise) that issued the quarantine order

COVID-19 Event 2 

 

Employee has been advised by a health provider to self-quarantine for COVID-19 related reasons

Provide the name of the health care provider who advised the employee to self-quarantine due to COVID-19 related concerns

COVID-19 Event 3 

 

Employee is experiencing symptoms of COVID-19 and is seeking a medical diagnosis

No documentation is required.  Self-Certification is sufficient in this case

COVID-19 Event 4 

 

Employee is caring for an individual who is subject to a self-quarantine or isolation order

Provide the name of the government entity that issued the self-isolation order or the name of the health care provider who issued the self-quarantine/isolation order

COVID-19 Event 5 

 

Employee is caring for a child or children when schools and child care centers/providers are closed because of COVID-19

Provide the name of the son or daughter being cared for and the name of the school, place of care, or provider that has closed for COVID-19 reasons; and

Provide self-certification explaining that no other suitable person will be caring for the child/ren during the Families First Act sick leave period.

 

What is the maximum amount of pay an employee may receive under the 80 hours of Families First Act sick leave?

There is a daily aggregate of pay allowed under the 80 hours of Families First Act sick leave.  The following chart represents the daily limits under this provision:

COVID-19 Event

Qualifying Reason(s)

Aggregate

COVID-19 Event 1 

 

Employee is subject to a Federal, State, or local quarantine/isolation order

Up to 80 hours

$511.00 per day and $5,110 in total

COVID-19 Event 2 

 

Employee has been advised by a health provider to self-quarantine for COVID-19 related reasons

Up to 80 hours

$511.00 per day and $5,110 in total

COVID-19 Event 3 

 

Employee is experiencing symptoms of COVID-19 and is seeking a medical diagnosis

Up to 80 hours

$511.00 per day and $5,110 in total

COVID-19 Event 4 

 

Employee is caring for an individual who is subject to a self-quarantine or isolation order

2/3 of regular rate of basic pay up to $200 per day and $2,000 in the aggregate over a 2-week period

COVID-19 Event 5 

 

Employee is caring for a child or children when schools and child care centers/providers are closed because of COVID-19

2/3 of regular rate of basic pay up to $200 per day

Leave taken for qualifying Events (4) and (5) also counts towards the $511 daily limit and the $5,110 aggregate limit.  For example, an employee who has already received $2,000 in paid Families First Act sick leave to take care of his or her child would only have $3,110 left to take paid Families First Act sick leave to self-quarantine.  Taking leave for qualifying Events (1), (2), and (3) would count only towards the $511 daily and $5,110 aggregate limits, and not towards the $200 daily and $2,000 aggregate limits applicable to qualifying circumstances (4) and (5).

As a reminder, employees with higher rates of pay are more likely to reach the daily limit.  In the case of leave used for an 8-hour workday, the $511 daily limitation would be exceeded if the employee’s hourly rate exceeds $63.87 and the $200 daily limitation would be exceeded if the employee’s two-thirds hourly rate exceeds $25.00 (i.e., the full hourly rate exceeds $37.50). 

 

FAQ's - April 16, 2020

If I am not in a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)-identified high risk category, but I am in a position that is not telework eligible, can I be granted Weather and Safety Leave (WSL)?

Yes, you may granted WSL if your position is not telework eligible and is not determined to be mission critical by leadership.

***Please note this answer is updated from FAQ’s initially released on March 18, 2020***

Are there any hiring flexibilities associated with COVID-19?

Yes, the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) provided agencies with the flexibility to use Schedule A Emergency Hiring Authority in Response to COVID-19. The authority allows the Department to fill positions directly related to COVID-19 at any grade level and occupational series; veterans’ preference applies.  The authority may be utilized until March 31, 2021.  These excepted service appointments are for one year and may be extended an additional year with appropriate approvals. Please contact your HR POC for additional information.

If leave is denied for a Federal worker because of work load related to COVID-19, can leave in excess of 240 hours be carried over to next year?

This may be possible.  The Department will execute the normal leave restoration process near the end of the calendar year for employees who have had leave denied due to workload. 

What work-life flexibilities exist for teleworkers?

In order to help balance your work responsibilities along with your personal responsibilities, the Department wants to ensure that all work-flexibilities exist while teleworking.  All alternative work schedule (AWS) program options will remain in effect (e.g., Compressed Work Schedules (CWS), Flexible Work Schedule (FWS), Maxiflex).  The Department is suspending core hours (e.g., typically 9:00 AM – 3:00 PM) while in this maximum telework policy. 

Although supervisory approval is still required to change duty hours, employees can work from 5:00 AM and 12:00 AM (midnight) Monday thru Sunday.  If you are flexing your hours on Sunday, this information needs to be provided to your supervisor who will connect with your Time and Attendance (T&A) coordinator to work with the Office of the Chief Financial Officer (CF) to ensure Sunday Premium Pay is not paid.  Separate guidance was provided by the Office of the Chief Human Capital Officer (HC) to the Resource Managers. 

The Department strongly encourages all supervisors to be as flexible as possible (i.e., maximize telework and adjust work schedules) with their employees while meeting the mission. Under many types of alternative work schedules, an employee can complete his or her biweekly work requirement in less than 10 workdays, or supervisors may allow an employee to adjust arrival and departure times to accommodate doctor appointments, dependent care issues, or other pressing matters surrounding the related emergency. You should discuss options with your supervisor to help maximize productivity at work, while assisting you in meeting your family and personal needs.

Are mid-year progress reviews still required?

Yes, mid-year progress reviews are required by regulations for federal employees.  The Department’s typical due date for progress reviews is April 30th; however, the Department is extending its due date for mid-year progress reviews until May 31st.  The due date is extended for employees who are covered under DOE Order 331.1D, Change 1, Employee Performance Management and Recognition Program, as well as the employees covered under the Senior Executive Service and Senior Professional performance management systems.  Those employees who are covered under Collective Bargaining Agreements, should contact their Labor Relations Specialist for more information.  The deadline is also extended to May 31, 2020, for SES Executive Development Plans. 

While the progress review deadline is extended to provide additional flexibility to employees during this time, virtual progress reviews can still occur during our maximum telework posture.  To prepare for a virtual progress review, supervisors should still establish a meeting in advance of the discussion and should consider using webcams when possible to have a more interactive conversation.  Other than that, the preparation to conduct a progress review remains the same as if it were conducted face-to-face. 

If someone at my site is diagnosed with COVID-19, what information can I expect to receive from management? 

When providing information to the workforce on confirmed COVID-19 cases, the Department must balance the privacy rights of the individual diagnosed with COVID-19 with the need to openly communicate with employees. 

Generally, in accordance with the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, Americans with Disabilities Act, and with privacy laws, managers and supervisors may not specifically disclose the identity of an employee who has or may have COVID-19 or provide information, such as the specific location of the employee’s workstation, which will allow other employees to identify the individual. Supervisors may ask the individual for consent to share their identity information with those whom they have been in close contact. Even if an employee consents to such disclosure, identifying information is only to be provided to those who have a need to know.

Managers and supervisors may and should verbally (vice e-mail) notify co-workers who may have been in close contact with an individual diagnosed with COVID-19 for a prolonged period of time to provide these employees more information to help when monitoring themselves for signs or symptoms and quarantining themselves, if appropriate. Again, the information provided about any individual’s health should be minimized as much as possible.

Regarding broader communications, Heads of Departmental Elements or Site Office Managers may advise employees that an employee at a site has tested positive for COVID-19. They may also generally identify the building in which the employee has their workstation, where there is more than one building at the site. Depending on the size of the building (e.g., multiple floors vs. one or two stories), they may also disclose the floor number or additional information to the extent that such information would not reasonably lead to the specific identity of the employee.

The number of individuals who work in a building, or portion thereof, should be taken into consideration when drafting a broad communication. For example, there may be 200 individuals who work off of one hallway in a large building and in contrast only two employees who work in another building. The level of specificity of the description of the employee’s workstation would be quite different in these two scenarios. When drafting the communication, one should also take into consideration when the employee who was diagnosed with COVID-19 was last in the workplace and when symptoms developed.

If we are required to come into a DOE facility, are we required to wear face coverings? 

Cloth face coverings are not mandatory. In accordance with the April 10th DOECAST, it is strongly advised that you wear a cloth face when you are in public spaces in DOE owned or leased building (e.g., security checkpoints, primary hallways, elevator bank areas) as recommended by the CDC.  Face coverings are not needed in workspaces, such as an office, where you may be at least six feet away from others.

In accordance with CDC guidance, individuals are encouraged to fashion face coverings from household items or common materials, such as a clean T-shirt or other clean cloth, which can cover the nose and mouth area.  As this is a public health recommendation to slow the spread of COVID-19, and not an occupational health requirement, personal protective equipment, such as N95 respirators or surgical masks, will not be issued for this purpose.

Is the Department going to provide cloth face coverings? 

Not at this time.  Employees are encouraged to make a cloth face covering from household items using the CDC recommendations.

If someone comes in without a face covering and another person feels uncomfortable, can a supervisor make a person wear a face covering? 

DOE is following the CDC guidelines.  Face coverings are recommended and strongly advised to be worn in public areas where social distancing is impractical.  They are not mandatory.  As such, employees should still practice social distancing, staying at least 6 feet from others where possible.

 

FAQ's for D.C. Metro Area - April 1, 2020

The Department of Energy (DOE) continues to actively monitor COVID-19 and the health and safety of our workforce remains our number one priority.  Now that the Department has transitioned to maximizing telework for employees across the DOE enterprise while maintaining operations, the Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) below have been developed to address common questions regarding transit benefits and badging in the Washington DC area.  

Additionally as the vast majority of DOE employees are teleworking in the DC area, the Parking Management Office will pause the parking permit auto-renewal/reoccurring payment feature for monthly pass holders and will waive the $5 fee associated with day pass purchases.  Effective April 1, 2020, those employees who have established auto-renewal in their online pay-for-parking account will not have their account auto-debited for the month of April.  This will be in effect until further notice.  

Please do not disable the auto-renewal/reoccurring payment feature.  The auto-renewal feature will be reactivated when we return to normal business operations.  For your awareness, a notification will also be sent once this feature is reactivated.  For those employees who continue to use the garage, a parking permit (daily or monthly) must be displayed.  Daily pass users must establish an account in the parking management online application (https://www.doeforrestalparking.com), print out a day pass, and display it on driver’s side dashboard. Please address any questions or concerns you may have to ParkingManagementOffice@hq.doe.gov.

If you have any specific questions regarding any of the below FAQs, please contact your Resource Manager.  Additionally, more COVID-19 specific FAQs from TRANServe can be found here:  TRANServe FAQ

Now that Maryland, DC, and Virginia have issued stay-at-home orders, what does this mean for me?

The Department remains in a maximum telework posture.  If you are in a position that is mission essential and requires you to routinely physically report to FORS or GTN, then you need to have a letter from your Head of Departmental Element that deems you as “essential personnel”.  If needed, you can provide this letter to local and state authorities if stopped.  In addition, please ensure you always have your PIV card on you at all times while traveling to and from work.

The specific stay-at-home orders that were issued can be accessed here: MarylandDC, and Virginia

What happens if I do not use my Transit Subsidy (i.e., SEET benefits) while working from home?

Employees may only use the transit benefit subsidy when commuting from home to work and work to home.  For employees in a non-pay, leave, or telework status, use of transit benefit credit cards is prohibited.  Please DO NOT use the SEET benefits for any other purpose than commuting to and from work.

Under routine circumstances, if SEET benefits are not utilized consecutively in a three month period, the benefits are automatically suspended by the Department of Transportation (DOT) for non-use.  However, DOE has requested and confirmed that DOT will turn off the automatic suspension for non-use until further notice.  

What happens if I am not able to complete the annual recertification of my SEET benefits? Will my SEET benefits be suspended?

DOE has temporarily turned off the automatic suspension function for users who do not complete the annual recertification within the required 30-day time period.  

Are there any changes to when SEET benefits will be loaded to SmarTrip or TranServe cards?

At this time, DOT has not made any changes to how funds will be transferred to SEET participants. SEET funds are available for the entire month.  You may want to consider cancelling or delaying your automatic payments for Commuter Bus, MTA, MARC, etc.  Those who use Commuter Direct to receive their April benefits should contact Commuter Direct to ask for a credit to your TRANServe credit card for April.

The SEET funds are loaded each month as follows:

SMARTBenefits:  

Funds are transferred to the SmarTrip card on the 1st of each month.  The funds are available from the first day of the month until midnight on the last day of the month.  Any remaining benefits are removed at that time, and the new month's benefits are loaded. 

 

TRANServe Benefits:  

Funds are transferred to the TRANServe cards on the 10th of the month.  These funds are available for the purchase of tickets for the following month.  The funds remain on the TRANServe card until midnight on the 9th of the following month, when it is removed and the new month's funds are loaded.  For example, money transferred to the TRANServe card on March 10 is used to purchase a monthly MARC train ticket for the month of April since the April pass must be available by the 1st of the month.

My PIV badge and/or certificates are expiring.  What should I do?

You can continue teleworking and do not have to come into the building solely to get a new badge. 

You should submit a request for a RSA token through the EITS DAYS Service Catalog.  If you cannot access the DAYS catalog, please email the EITS PKI Support team at dl-eitspkisupport@hq.doe.gov to request a RSA Token. You have the option of a hardware token or software token.  Software tokens are installed on GFE mobile phones or personal phones with UEM installed only.  The hardware token can be mailed to your home during this time.  When emailing home information to EITS PKI Support, please remember to encrypt your email or call the EITS Service Desk at (301) 903-2500.

Without a PIV badge, the use of an RSA token is required to authenticate through EITS Remote Access Services (e.g. Citrix Workplace, VDI, VPN). Be sure to obtain one or you will not be able to proceed with accessing the DOE network.  If you need additional assistance please contact the EITS Service Desk at (301) 903-2500 or EITS.ServiceDesk@hq.doe.gov.

If you received notice that your PIV card is expiring, and if your management has authorized you to enter the DOE Headquarters facility, the Germantown and Forrestal badge offices are open.  Presently, the hours of operations at both badging facilities are Mondays and Wednesdays from 0800-1600, with the last appointment beginning at 3:30 PM. You can schedule your appointment by visiting https://www.fedidcard.gov/home, but walk-in appointments are also available.  As a reminder, you are required to bring two valid Federal or Government issued forms of identification and your expiring badge with you to be issued your new credential.  The forms of identification must bear matching names.

If you were unable to renew your PIV card prior to its expiration and your management has authorized you to enter the DOE Headquarters facility, you should proceed to the visitor’s desk at either of the buildings with a driver’s license, passport, or other approved form of identification to receive a paper visitor’s badge.  Once received, proceed to the badge office with your identification where you will work with the badging office personnel to be issued a temporary Local Site Specific Badge (LSSO).  The LSSO badge will provide you with physical access to the DOE Headquarters facility access points.  You will use this badge for entry into the facilities until your new HSPD-12 credential arrives.  You must contact the OCIO help desk for access to DOE IT resources.

How do new employees obtain a PIV card (i.e., badge)?

The Office of the Chief Human Capital Officer (HC) will be conducting virtual onboarding for all new hires.  For HQ, the Departmental Element will be responsible for scheduling an appointment for your new employee to obtain a PIV card, if they are deemed mission essential and need physical access to the HQ buildings, by visiting https://www.fedidcard.gov/home prior to their on board date. 

If the new employee is not required to be in the building (i.e., position is not mission essential and the duties can be performed remotely), then only logical access is required.  Obtaining a PIV card should be delayed until the Department is out of its maximum telework posture.  The Departmental Element will need to order an RSA token for the employee to allow them to remotely work from home.

How do I return my badge if I am leaving the Department?

If possible, all PIV cards and Local Site Specific Badges should be returned to one of the DOE Headquarters badge offices on an employee’s last day.  If the badge office is closed, you can leave your PIV card or LSSO badge with a DOE ProForce officer at one of the staffed access/egress points.  Alternately, the PIV card or LSSO badge can be mailed to the DOE Forrestal badge office.  It is the responsibility of the Departmental Element to email the DOE Headquarters badge office to inform them of the retirement/termination of their employee along with the employee’s termination statement.  Upon receipt of the badge and/or termination statement email, the badge office will disable the physical access of the badge.

FAQ's - March 18, 2020

If I am telework-ready, can I telework now?

Yes, those who are telework ready should be teleworking except in mission-critical circumstances that require you to be in a Federal office.  You must still obtain supervisor approval.  The Department of Energy, and the Federal government as a whole, is fully committed to slowing the transmission of COVID-19 across the country.  Maximizing telework to the greatest extent possible allows the Department to remain operational while prioritizing your health and safety. 

Can I be forced to telework if I am not on a telework agreement?

Yes, you can be forced to telework under the following scenarios:

  1. The Department activates its Continuity of Operations Plan (COOP); or
  2. A pandemic has been declared by the World Health Organization AND the Department issues an evacuation order to an alternate worksite (e.g., home). 

However, the Department is not under either of these scenarios at this time.  Although a pandemic has been declared by the World Health Organization, and some DOE sites are temporarily closed for cleaning or subject to local conditions, the Department has not issued a directive to evacuate a worksite.  Therefore, you are not currently required to telework if you do not want to.  However, the Department strongly encourages you to telework in order to slow the transmission of COVID-19 across the country and to protect the health and safety of you and those around you.

What options are available if I am a federal employee, my Federal office is open and I am healthy, but schools are closed?

The Department understands and sympathizes with the burden on working parents and their families. This is a difficult time for everyone. The Department’s telework policy is extremely flexible.  Parents can telework with a child (or other persons requiring care) present at the home.  As recommended by OPM and consistent with other federal agencies, employees must account for work and non-work hours during the day and take appropriate leave (paid or unpaid) for the time spent away from normal work-related duties (e.g., to care for a child or dependent).

Alternative work schedules should be made available to help employees balance work and personal responsibilities during an emergency. Under many types of alternative work schedules, an employee can complete his or her biweekly work requirement in less than 10 workdays, or supervisors may allow an employee to adjust arrival and departure times to accommodate doctor appointments, dependent care issues, or other pressing matters surrounding the related emergency. You should discuss options with your supervisor to help maximize productivity at work, while assisting you in meeting your family and personal needs.

The Department strongly encourages all supervisors to be as flexible as possible (i.e., maximize telework and adjust work schedules) with their employees while still being able to meet the mission.  For example, an employee could care for a child from 1-4 and make up the work hours later in the evening, earlier in the day, or over the weekend.  Supervisors should be as flexible as they can, while still being able to continue operations.  Weather and Safety Leave (WSL) cannot be used if a federal office remains open.

If I am in a CDC-identified high risk category, can I be granted WSL?

WSL can be authorized if you are in one of the CDC-identified high risk categories and are not in a telework eligible position. 

If you are in a telework-eligible position, request to enter into telework with your supervisor.  This can be done through an official record (e.g., an email exchange between you and supervisor) that clearly documents your request to enter into a telework agreement, along with the supervisor's approval.  Otherwise, you may take annual leave, sick leave if appropriate, or other paid time off (e.g., compensatory time, credit hours).

If I am not in a CDC-identified high risk category, but I am in a position that is not telework eligible, can I be granted WSL?

When a federal building is open:  If you are not in a telework eligible position you cannot be granted WSL.  You should continue to come into the office or take annual leave, sick leave if appropriate, or other paid leave (comp time).

When a federal building is closed:  Yes, you can be granted WSL. 

If I am not in a CDC-identified high risk category, but I do not want to enter into a telework agreement, can I be granted WSL?

When a federal building is open:  If you do not want to sign a telework agreement, you cannot be granted WSL.  You should continue to come into the office or take annual leave, sick leave if appropriate, or other paid leave (e.g., comp time).  You are strongly encouraged to enter into telework agreement with your supervisor, which can be documented through an email exchange. 

When a federal building is closed:  Yes, you can be granted WSL. 

What type of leave options are available to me?

There are several types of leave options available depending on your particular situation:

Weather and Safety Leave:  If an employee is not in a telework eligible position, WSL is authorized when an asymptomatic employee (i.e., healthy, not displaying symptoms) is subject to movement restrictions (14-day quarantine period) by a public health official due to a significant risk of exposure to COVID-19.  If an employee is in a telework eligible position, he/she is expected to telework as long as the employee is asymptomatic. 

If an employee is not in a telework eligible position and is in one of the CDC-identified high risk categories WSL is authorized as long as the employee is asymptomatic.  If an employee is in a telework eligible position, he/she is expected to telework as long as the employee is asymptomatic. 

Sick Leave for Self:  An employee who is symptomatic (ill) due to COVID-19 or other injury or illness is entitled to use his or her accrued sick leave. WSL cannot be used in this situation.

Sick Leave for Family CareIf an employee’s family member is symptomatic (ill) due to COVID-19 or other injury or illness, the employee may use up to 13 days (104 hours) of his or her accrued sick leave for general family care.  The amount of sick leave is pro-rated for part-time employees.

Sick Leave to Care for a Family Member with a Serious Health Condition:  An employee is entitled to use up to 12 weeks (480 hours) of sick leave each leave year to care for a family member with a serious health condition. The 12-week period is the maximum and includes the 13-day period for general family care.

Other Leave Options:  An employee may also use accrued annual leave, advanced annual leave, and leave without pay to deal with COVID-19. In certain situations, employees may be eligible for the Voluntary Leave Transfer programs. Employees may also use compensatory time off, compensatory time off for travel, and credit hours in this situation.

How should I record my time while teleworking?

If you had regularly scheduled telework for certain days of the week, you should still report “TW –Telework Regular” on your timecard.  For all other days you are teleworking, you should use “TS –Telework Ad Hoc/Situational”. 

What if I am having connectivity issues when trying to telework?

If you are experiencing connectivity problems due to Citrix or VPN-type of issues, you should code your day as teleworking (either regular or situational as appropriate).  If you are experiencing connectivity problems due to issues at your home (e.g., your home internet is down or there is a power outage) and you are unable to telework, you can be granted WSL. 

In both situations, you must inform your supervisor immediately and routinely try to re-connect to see if issues have been resolved.  If you expect to experience longer than normal connectivity issues at your home (e.g., all day or several days) and request WSL, your supervisor can request documentation for such a disruption prior to granting.

FAQ's - March 12, 2020

Please note, if you or your family member are having a medical emergency, please call 911, notify the dispatch personnel that you have, or are being evaluated for COVID-19.

What are the symptoms of COVID-19?

The symptoms for COVID-19 often appear as a common cold – fever, cough, shortness of breath.  The key indicators include a fever over 100.4oF in addition to either a cough or difficulty breathing.

What should you do if you have COVID-19-like symptoms while away from work? 

Do not come into the office.  Call your immediate supervisor and discuss telework and leave options. Call your personal doctor.  Follow their procedures. Follow-up with your supervisor regarding any testing or confirmation of diagnosis so that additional actions may be taken to protect the health of the workforce.

What should you do if you have COVID-19-like symptoms while at work? 

Inform your immediate supervisor right away in order to leave the building as soon as possible. As recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), isolate yourself from others until you can leave.  Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue (or an elbow or shoulder if no tissue is available).  Once home, call your personal doctor.  Follow their procedures. Follow-up with your supervisor regarding any testing or confirmation of diagnosis so that additional actions may be taken.

Do not go to the DOE Health Clinics. Please note that the Health Clinics at Forrestal and Germantown are not equipped to test or treat people with suspected or confirmed COVID-19 cases. 

What should you do if you have been in close contact with someone who has or may have COVID-19? 

Talk to your immediate supervisor about telework right away.  If you are on a telework agreement, request to telework for the 14 day self-quarantine period recommended by the CDC.  If you are not on a telework agreement, ask to sign a situational telework agreement, if possible.

If you become sick during the self-quarantine period, call your doctor.  Follow their directions.  Inform your immediate supervisor, as soon as possible regarding your change in health status.  Follow-up with your supervisor regarding any testing or confirmation of diagnosis so that additional actions may be taken.

What if you are coming from a high-risk travel area (defined as CDC Level 2 and 3)?

Talk to your immediate supervisor about telework right away.  If you are on a telework agreement, request to telework for the 14 day self-quarantine period recommended by the CDC.  If you are not on a telework agreement, ask to sign a situational telework agreement, if possible.

If you become sick during the self-quarantine period, call your doctor.  Follow their directions.  Inform your immediate supervisor, as soon as possible regarding your change in health status.  Follow-up with your supervisor regarding any testing or confirmation of diagnosis so that additional actions may be taken.

What should you do if you test positive for COVID-19? 

If you are diagnosed with COVID-19, call your immediate supervisor.  Your privacy will be protected to the greatest extent possible and your identity will not be disclosed except to those on a need-to-know basis in order to protect the health of the employees in the workplace.

What options are available if I am a federal employee, my Federal office is open and I am healthy, but schools are closed?

In this situation, you can telework with a child (or other persons requiring care) present at the home.  If you are on a telework agreement, request telework from your supervisor.  You must still account for work and non-work hours during the day and take appropriate leave (paid or unpaid) to account from time spent away from normal work-related duties (e.g., to care for a child or dependent).  If you are not on a telework agreement, ask to sign a situational telework agreement, if possible.  If you are not a telework participant, you can use annual leave or other paid time off (e.g., compensatory time, credit hours). 

What should you do to protect your family?

The Department strongly encourages implementing the measures of prevention outlined by the CDC as well as reviewing the tips for protecting yourself and your family.  The easiest way to prevent the spreading of COVID-19 is to stay at home when you are not feeling well and don’t travel on public transportation.  

FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS FOR SUPERVISORS

As a Supervisor, how do you prepare your organization?

Supervisors should ensure that written telework agreements are in place for as many people as possible.  Encourage situational telework agreements to provide coverage during COVID-19 when people may need to practice social distancing.  Be flexible in approving requests for situational telework.

What should you do if your employee is concerned about his/her potential exposure to COVID-19 or is returning from travel from a high-risk country (defined as CDC Level 2 and 3)?

Talk to your employee about their concerns and remain flexible.  If they are telework-ready, allow them to telework for the 14-day self-quarantine period recommended by the CDC.  If they are not telework-ready, consider expanding telework to provide additional flexibility for your employee.  Consider if their position could support telework and/or if they would like to enter into a situational telework agreement for this period.  If their position doesn’t support any form of telework or if your employee chooses not to telework, talk with them about potential leave options, including the use of annual leave, advanced annual leave, other paid time off (e.g., earned compensatory time off, earned credit hours).  If your employee refuses to telework or use personal leave, ensure you receive guidance from HC and GC for how to proceed.

How do I protect the privacy of my employee who is suspected to have COVID-19?

A supervisor may provide general information to employees to let them know that someone in their organization is/may be infected with the virus to allow employees to monitor themselves for signs or symptoms and quarantine themselves, if appropriate.  To comply with the American with Disabilities Act (ADA), and to avoid other privacy issues, supervisors may not, however, specifically disclose the identity of the infected employee or provide information that will allow other employees to identify the infected individual.

Can I ask my employees about recent travel and/or potential exposure to COVID-19?

The ADA prohibits employers from asking employees about their health and medical conditions. However, the Pandemic Preparedness in the Workplace and the Americans with Disabilities Act guidance issued by the EEOC () provides that during a pandemic, exceptions to the ADA restrictions on employer health inquiries allow employers to inquire about an employee's potential infection with the disease and related travel.  Pursuant to the guidance, if the individual does not have the disease, the employer will not be asking about a current medical condition and the ADA will not be implicated.  If the individual is infected, the ADA's direct threat rule allows inquiries because an employee will pose a direct threat to co-workers and others in the workplace.

My federal employee has been confirmed with COVID-19. Now what?

If your employee is sick, Weather and Safety Leave is not appropriate and other leave options (e.g., sick, annual, advanced leave) needs to be discussed.  Contact the COVID-19 Hotline (202-586-2683) if this situation has not already been reported or send information about your employee to the COVID Inquiries mailbox ().  Remember to Entrust or password protect any e-mails.

My employee has been placed on the 14-day self-quarantine.  Now what?

If your employee is asymptomatic (i.e., not sick) and on a telework agreement, the employee must telework.  If your employee is asymptomatic and not on a telework agreement, place your employee on administrative leave (weather and safety leave) for the quarantine period. 

If your employee is sick or becomes sick, administrative leave is not appropriate and other leave options (e.g., sick, annual, advanced leave) needs to be discussed. 

Contact the COVID-19 Hotline (202-586-2683) if this situation has not already been reported or send information about your employee to the COVID Inquiries mailbox ().  Remember to Entrust or password protect any e-mails.

What should you do if your employee has reported that they have had close contact with someone with COVID-19?

Your employee should self-quarantine for 14 days in accordance with the CDC recommendations.  Talk to your employee about telework options.  If they are on a telework agreement, require them to telework for the 14 day self-quarantine period.  If they are not on a telework agreement, have them sign a situational telework agreement, if possible.

If they become sick during the self-quarantine period, have them call their doctor and follow their doctor’s instructions. 

Contact the COVID-19 Hotline (202-586-2683) if this situation has not already been reported or send information about your employee to the COVID Inquiries mailbox (COVID-19inquiries@hq.doe.gov).  Remember to Entrust or password protect any e-mails.

What should you do if your employee is showing signs of COVID-19-like symptoms at work? 

If you observe symptoms, express your concern regarding the employee’s health and remind them of their leave options (e.g., sick, annual, compensatory time).  If the employee has no leave, you, as the supervisor, are authorized to approve requests for advanced leave or leave without pay in certain circumstances.  If they are telework-ready, you can ask them to telework for social distancing purposes.  Contact the COVID-19 Hotline (202-586-2683) if this situation has not already been reported or send information about your employee to the COVID Inquiries mailbox (). 

If none of these options are available for the employee, an employee may be placed on administrative leave in certain circumstances.  Administrative leave is a paid, non-duty status that does not require the employee’s consent and does not trigger adverse action procedures.  Do not place an employee on administrative leave until HC and GC are consulted. 

Does my federal employee need a doctor’s note to use 3 or more days of sick leave for COVID-19-like symptoms?  Does my employee need a doctor’s note to return to work?

In order to prevent early return to work by ill employees, which could enhance transmission, and avoid overburdening local health providers, supervisors may at their discretion waive the requirement for employees to provide a medical note if absent from work more than 3 days.  Supervisors may consider an employee’s self-certification as to the reason for the absence as administratively acceptable evidence, regardless of the duration of the absence.  However, if an employee has been diagnosed with COVID-19, employees are strongly encouraged to obtain medical certification documenting that the employee may return to work.