April 27, 1999


SUBJECT: Assisting Federal Employees Whose Children Were Affected by the Tragedy in Littleton, CO

I wish to convey my sympathy to the families of the students affected by the recent tragic events at Columbine High School in Littleton, Colorado, and especially to my fellow Federal employees and their families who have been affected. I am saddened by the loss of life and suffering caused by this senseless act of violence.

We have developed the following list of Federal benefits and programs that are available to assist Federal employees and their families who are victims of this tragedy. Additional information can be found on OPMs web site at http://www.opm.gov/index.htm. We encourage you to review your agency policies and practices and applicable collective bargaining agreement concerning these benefits and programs.

Excused Absence

Agencies may excuse from duty without loss of pay or charge to leave, for a limited period of time, those employees who are faced with a personal emergency because of the tragic events at Columbine High School and its immediate aftermath, and who can be spared from their usual responsibilities.

Family Friendly Leave Policies and Work Schedules

Sick Leave for Family Care or Bereavement Purposes: Most covered Federal employees may use up to 104 hours (13 days) of sick leave each leave year to care for a family member who is incapacitated as a result of physical or mental illness or injury or to arrange for or attend the funeral of a family member. Full-time employees may use 40 hours (5 days) of sick leave for these purposes, plus an additional 64 hours (8 days) if a balance of at least 80 hours of sick leave is maintained in his or her sick leave account. If needed, employees may request advance sick leave for the first 40 hours.

Annual Leave and Leave Without Pay: Federal employees may use their accrued annual leave or request advance annual leave or leave without pay to care for a family member.

Family and Medical Leave Act of 1993 (FMLA): Most Federal employees are entitled to use a total of 12 administrative workweeks of unpaid leave during any 12-month period for the care of a spouse, son, daughter, or parent with a serious health condition. Health benefit coverage continues while an employee is on FMLA leave, and upon return from leave, the employee must be returned to the same position or to an equivalent position.

Leave Transfer and Leave Bank Programs: Federal employees who have personal or family medical emergencies and who have exhausted their own paid leave may receive donated annual leave from their fellow employees under their agency leave transfer program. In addition, if an agency has established a leave bank, members who have contributed a specified amount of annual leave to their agency leave bank may withdraw leave if they are faced with a personal or family medical emergency and have exhausted their own paid leave.

Alternative Work Schedules (AWS): Flexible or compressed work schedules may be established for employees who need to change their work schedules for family purposes or who need additional time off during normal working hours.

Telecommuting: With a supervisors agreement, an employee may request to work at home and establish a written telecommuting agreement with his or her supervisor. Although telecommuting is not to be used as a substitute for child care, in this unique situation affecting older students, children may feel more comfortable and secure knowing a parent is available at home.

Employee Assistance Programs (EAPs)

Employee Assistance Programs can be very helpful to employees and their families in coping with the stress and disruption associated with this tragedy. EAPs provide short-term counseling and referral services to help with financial, emotional, and dependent care problems. These services are available to Federal employees, as well as their family members.

Health and Life Insurance Benefits

Federal employees and their eligible dependents enrolled under a Federal Employees Health Benefits plan will be covered under that plan. Life insurance coverage for the loss of a family member may also be available to enrolled employees.


Page created 27 April 1999