Frequently Asked Questions

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The emergency leave transfer program (ELTP) is a leave donation program under which judiciary employees may donate unused annual leave for transfer to other employees in the same or other courts who have been adversely affected by a major disaster or emergency. An employee does not have to exhaust his/her annual or sick leave prior to using ELTP donations.

There is no provision to hire anyone within the Federal service absent proof of personal identification. However, during previous disasters, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) has historically provided services to expedite assistance in obtaining personal identification. In the past, Document Centers have been established at each FEMA designated shelter. Check the FEMA website for postings of Document Centers and other updates.

The court should advise their local Human Resources representative, and the appropriate team lead on the Staffing Services Branch and Benefits and Retirement Counseling Services Branch in the Office of Human Resources as soon as possible to ensure that any necessary personnel processing, and benefits counseling and claims may be accomplished expeditiously. The Judges Compensation and Retirement Services Office should be contacted in the case of a deceased judge.

No. These employees are entitled to use military leave under 5 U.S.C. 6323(b) (i.e., 22 workdays of military leave); however, the employee may also use annual leave, earned compensatory time, leave without pay, or any combination thereof.

Even if they are not requested to do so by a federal agency or disaster relief organization, employees seeking to participate in volunteer activities during basic working hours may be granted annual leave, leave without pay, compensatory time off (if applicable), or, in very limited and unique circumstances, excused absence, as discussed below.

If requested by a federal agency or disaster relief organization, at the discretion of the employing court, an employee may be excused from duty without loss of pay to assist with disaster relief and recovery, if requested by a federal agency or disaster relief organization to assist in emergency law enforcement, relief, or clean-up efforts in affected communities authorized by federal, state, or other officials having jurisdiction, and if an employee’s participation in such activities has been approved by his or her employing court.

Employees sent from other courts to assist affected courts in restoring court services are considered to be on official duty, and administrative leave would not be necessary.

Any such designated employees are expected to report for work at the alternative worksite, unless otherwise directed by their court. A court may determine that circumstances justify excusing a designated employee from duty and allowing the employee to use leave because of an individual hardship or unique circumstances. Employees who refuse to follow emergency related orders may be subject to appropriate discipline, up to and including removal.

You should contact your court to report your status. You may be granted annual leave, leave without pay, or use of earned compensatory time. Alternatively, the court has the discretion to grant administrative leave (excused absence); however, there is no entitlement to administrative leave. See Excused Absence questions for additional information.

There are several flexibilities available to provide time off for employees to take care of personal or family needs related to a major disaster or emergency after a facility has reopened or operations are established at an alternative site.

No. An employee on leave without pay, workers’ compensation, suspension, or in another non-pay status does not receive excused absence when a court is closed. An employee in a non-pay status has no expectation of working and receiving pay for time during which a court is closed, and is therefore not entitled to be paid for his or her absence.

Employees who were in a paid leave status at the time his or her employing court was closed should have their leave cancelled and be placed in an excused absence status effective the day the employing court unit was closed.


When a government facility (workplace) is closed due to a disaster or other emergency, all non-essential employees who are not authorized and not able to telework are granted excused absence. Once a chief judge or his or her designee reopens the facility or establishes an alternative work-site, employees should be notified that they should return to duty.

Furlough (4)

It is possible that employees may be eligible for unemployment compensation, especially if they are on consecutive furlough days. State unemployment compensation requirements differ. Courts or employees should submit their questions to the appropriate State unemployment office to determine if an entitlement to unemployment compensation exists.

 Yes, an employee may request the use of annual leave in lieu of furlough when a court has implemented an emergency furlough in these circumstances.

Yes, an emergency furlough could be used if a court, facility or geographic region is quarantined.

A furlough is the placing of an employee in a temporary non-duty, non-pay status because of lack of work or funds, or other non-disciplinary reasons. There are two types of furloughs:

Pandemic (9)

The Administrative Office (AO) and the courts will work to ensure that the health and safety of employees in the workplace is protected in the case of a pandemic healthcare crisis or other widespread contagious disease, to include closing offices when supported by official guidance (e.g., guidance from the CDC or other public health officials). Any concern an employee has about contracting the flu from a co-worker must be addressed with the employee’s supervisor.

Requiring a medical examination based on perception of an employee’s symptoms should be avoided. However, if clear evidence exists that the employee has been absent due to illness (e.g., employee has been on sick leave), the supervisor may require that the employee provide acceptable medical documentation supporting s/he is able to return to work and will not pose a threat to the health and safety of others.

Unless the supervisor has evidence (suspicion is not enough) that an employee is physically unable to perform the job or poses a risk to him/herself or others, the supervisor may not prohibit the employee from reporting to work. See question #6 above for alternatives if sufficient evidence does exist that the employee may be ill.

As with any illness, any medical diagnosis by a supervisor should be avoided. However, supervisors are responsible for maintaining a safe work environment, to include the well-being of all employees. As such, an organization may find it necessary to prohibit an employee from remaining at work, but only when sufficient evidence indicates the employee is physically unable to perform the job or poses a risk to him/herself or others (based on guidance from the CDC or other health officials).

If you need to be at home because of a school closure, you may request annual leave for the duration of the closure. You may also request to use earned compensatory time or leave-without-pay. However, you may not use sick leave unless your child is sick.

You may use sick leave if guidance from the CDC or other health authorities advises that individuals with family members who have been exposed are also considered to be contagious and should also remain quarantined. If such guidance does not exist, you may request annual leave, earned compensatory time off, or leave-without-pay to remain at home with a family member who is not ill.

You may use accrued sick leave if you have been exposed to a contagious disease, but only if your doctor or health authorities (e.g., guidance from the Center for Disease Control (CDC) or local health officials) believe your exposure would put others at risk. You also have the option of using accrued annual leave or earned compensatory time if you have been exposed.

Employees will need to know what measures the court has taken or how it plans to deal with a pandemic health crisis, including steps to prevent or minimize workplace exposure to contagious disease. Some suggestions for information courts may wish to include in a communications plan for a pandemic healthcare crisis include:

A pandemic healthcare crisis is different from other disasters in that there may be no damage to the physical facilities of a court but many employees may be unable to work due to illness. In these types of situations, courts should use guidance from the CDC or other public health officials regarding the general danger to public health to close facilities, send individual employees home or require individual employees to work from home or at alternate locations.

If a judiciary employee has died or been dismembered, or if an eligible member of an employee's family has died, please contact the Benefits and Retirement Counseling Services Branch in the Office of Human Resources at 202-502-3110. In the case of a deceased judge or his/her family member, the Judges Compensation and Retirement Services Office should be contacted at 202-502-1880. The Benefits Officer will assist you to ensure that procedures are completed expeditiously so that benefits may begin as soon as possible.

TSP participant service representatives may be reached by calling the ThriftLine at 1-877-968-3778 or TDD 1-877-847-4385.  International callers who cannot use the toll free number should call 404-233-4400.  Hours of operation are 7 a.m. through 9 p.m.

The Office of Personnel Management (OPM) has procedures in place to respond to a disaster or emergency situation to ensure continued coverage for affected enrollees. OPM may contact or issue a blanket request to all FEHB carriers to ask them to demonstrate maximum flexibility under their OPM contract to include the following:

The Administrative Office’s Benefits Division works closely with the administrators of the various benefit programs, and may request that allowances be made for individuals affected by an emergency situation that disrupts the electronic fund transfer (EFT) process.

 The Payroll Services Branch (PSB) at the Administrative Office remains in contact with the U.S. Treasury to ensure that employees are not negatively impacted by salary transmission problems. If PSB receives notification that an employee’s pay cannot be successfully transmitted, it will determine an alternative method for issuing the employee’s salary check.