Inauguration Day is still a holiday for most teleworking feds in the D.C. region

Even as much of the federal workforce is teleworking during the pandemic, most employees in the Washington, D.C., metropolitan area will still have the day off on Inauguration Day, the Office of Personnel Management said Thursday.

In fact, most federal employees in the region will have a three-day work week in mid-January. Employees will have off on Monday, Jan. 18 for the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday, OPM said.

They’ll also have the day off on Wednesday, Jan. 20 for Inauguration Day, as long as they meet certain conditions.

“We realize that very few federal employees in the Washington D.C. area are actually reporting to their ordinary duty station as many agencies continue to maximize the use of telework,” Michael Rigas, OPM’s acting director, said in a memo to agency heads. “Nonetheless, federal statute establishes Inauguration Day as a holiday for federal employees in the District and surrounding areas and, in accordance with this provision of law, federal employees will be granted this extra day off if they meet conditions outlined in this memorandum.”

To meet those conditions, federal employees must work in what OPM describes as the “Inauguration Day area,” which includes the District of Columbia, Montgomery and Prince George’s counties in Maryland, Arlington and Fairfax counties in Virginia, and the cities of Alexandria and Falls Church in Virginia. The City of Fairfax is also part of this area.

Employees who, under normal circumstances, would ordinarily report to their official duty stations in any one of these locations on Jan. 20 are eligible for the holiday, OPM said.

This includes employees who, for example, typically work outside of the Washington metro area but would have been scheduled to work in the region for a one-day assignment on Inauguration Day.

In light of the COVID-19 pandemic, OPM said it’s changing its rules to consider teleworking employees who meet the criteria as being “employed in” the Inauguration Day area for the purposes of granting this particular federal holiday.

Federal employees who meet these criteria will be paid as they normally would for a eight-hour work day. Federal employees on flexible work schedules, however, will receive eight-hours worth of pay on Jan. 20.

“Unlike other federal holidays, employees who are not regularly scheduled to work on Jan. 20 are not entitled to a day off in lieu of the holiday,” OPM said. “Leave may not be charged to an employee who is entitled to the Inauguration Day holiday. Employees who cannot be given time off and must work in the Inauguration Day area on Jan. 20 are entitled to holiday premium pay for holiday work within their regularly scheduled basic workweek.”

Employees who are scheduled to travel outside the Washington region on Jan. 20 aren’t entitled to the holiday, OPM said. Federal employees who, for example, have a one-day assignment outside of the Inauguration Day area must work on that day.

Many of this year’s Inauguration Day activities are expected to go virtual due to the ongoing pandemic. Still, OPM is warning federal employees who do plan to commute to the office to prepare for traffic and road closures in the region on the days leading up to Jan. 20.

“To help alleviate traffic congestion and minimize distraction to law enforcement and security officials, OPM is urging agencies to permit employees who might otherwise report to the normal agency worksite on Jan. 19 to use their workplace flexibility options,” Rigas wrote. “Accordingly, OPM strongly encourages agencies to allow such employees to telework, where possible, to keep the federal government operating while helping to minimize traffic congestion and support law enforcement efforts during these events.”

For more details on how the two federal holidays may impact your flexible or alternative work schedules, find OPM’s guidance here.

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