We have been notified by Headquarters that a change to the Weather and Safety Leave Policy is being enacted beginning this week. If you are currently on Weather and Safety Leave, Headquarters intends to send you a survey to “self-certify” your status.
This survey includes a disclaimer that a response is voluntary. There is no guidance as to what will happen if you do not respond. However, at the very top is a disclaimer that Employees “may be subject to disciplinary action, up to and including separation, for any knowing and willing omission or falsification or fraudulent statement of material information.”
The Union also has concerns regarding the legality of implementation and the use of the “form” you will be “voluntarily required” to complete. We are gravely concerned as to how this may be used against employees and potential harm that can be inflicted. We cannot in good conscious endorse volunteering this information under these circumstances. However, we cannot recommend abstention, as we do not know what would result from abstaining.
If you are currently on Weather & Safety Leave you will receive a form to fill out that indicates your category of high risk to COVID-19. We have been reassured this information will remain private and on file with MED. We do have additional questions about these forms. And we are seeking answers to those questions. Additionally, we are requesting answers to questions wrapped around the categories listed below.
The form has the following categories:
*Currently have cancer
*Chronic kidney disease (GFR less than 60)
*Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (Emphysema or Chronic Bronchitis)
*Immunocompromised state (weakened immune system) from organ transplant
*Severe Obesity (BMI greater than 40)
*Serious heart condition (Heart Failure, Coronary Artery Dieses or Cardiomyopathy)
*Sickle Cell Disease
*Type 2 Diabetes
We urge everyone that we represent to remember the core values of the State Department and the organizational values of the Passport Services when filling out these forms. While we have not been told documentation will be required in the future, we encourage everyone to be prepared for the possibility that documentation may be a future requirement. As has been the case with every phase of this pandemic, changes to policy have come with very little warning.
This is the timeline laid out by Headquarters regarding the upcoming changes:
*Notification Change of Weather and Safety Leave – form to be responded to – October 30, 2020
*Response from MED back to employee – November 6, 2020
*Discussion with supervisor by employee about returning to work or not returning to work – November 9, 2020
*Those that have not been able to self-identify – return to work – November 16, 2020
As reclarification, if a category is not on the list, people are no longer being approved for Weather and Safety Leave as of November 16, 2020. To assist yourself to deal with this change, you do have other options.
Personal Leave (Annual, Sick, Comp, and Award Time)
LWOP or FMLA
To request a reasonable accommodation (ensuring the workplace suits the needs of workers with health or physical conditions or other specific circumstances) please contact HR/OAA at firstname.lastname@example.org or you can contact them through ReasonableAccommodations@state.gov
We have been told that the DRAD office is a small operation and may take greater than 30 days for a response. Unfortunately, management has not indicated they would allow an extension of WSL while waiting for a DRAD request.
We will continue to attempt to mitigate this issue, but felt you needed to be informed as soon as possible to prepare. Our efforts may not prevent poor implementation and we may have to remedy after the fact. As this issue develops, we will offer what we can to help you make an informed decision on how to handle this matter.
NFFE1998 National Officers