The U.S. Office of Personnel Management is trying to think about the unthinkable.

The OPM, the top human resources management agency for the federal government, has published an interim rule dealing with Locality-Based Comparability Payments and Evacuation Payments.

The temporary regulation is supposed to clarify the rules for determining an employee’s official worksite when the employee “teleworks” from an alternative worksite during an emergency situation, such as a pandemic health crisis, the OPM says.

The interim regulations also permit an agency to provide evacuations to an employee who is ordered to evacuate from the usual worksite and directed to work in a home or in some other location.

The interim regulations give an agency head the authority to grant special allowance payments, based on a case-by-case analysis, to offset added expenses related to the need to work from home.

If an evacuated employee is supposed to go to a designated safe haven, the employee “may be assigned to perform any work considered necessary or required to be performed during the period of evacuation without regard to his or her grade, level, or title,” according to the text of the interim rule. “Failure or refusal to perform the assigned work may be a basis for terminating evacuation payments, as well as disciplinary action.”

A copy of the OPM interim rule is on the Web at Document Link