After a facility has reopened, may courts grant additional excused absence to employees who are unable to return to work because of travel or other difficulties, because of power outages, or other difficulties that interrupt communications or telework, or because of a personal emergency related to the disaster/emergency?

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.

The affected employees may request the use of annual leave, sick leave (if appropriate by regulation), leave without pay, or earned compensatory time. If the President has declared a major disaster or emergency for the purposes of establishing an emergency leave transfer program, the chief judge may, at his or her discretion, authorize the use of donated leave in accordance with the judiciary’s emergency leave transfer program.

Although the court also has the discretionary authority to authorize excused absence, courts are encouraged to first consider the above alternatives. Leave and earned compensatory time are employee benefits designed to afford the employee paid time off to address personal matters. See the judiciary leave policy for additional guidance on excused absence.