The Office of Personnel Management (OPM) has drafted new rules that will reduce the use of paid administrative leave for employee under investigation for misconduct, a change to the 2016 Administrative Act. The proposed regulation was posted to the Federal Register Thursday and is open for comments until August 14.
Under the proposed change, agencies may not place an employee on administrative leave to investigate misconduct or performance for more than 10 days per calendar year. If the investigation is ongoing, and it is safe to do so, the agency may decide to allow the employee to complete telework as the investigation continues. The agency could alternatively place the employee on investigative leave, which can be used for three 30-day increments.
“These two types of leave may be used only when an authorized agency official determines, through evaluation of baseline factors, that the continued presence of the employee in the workplace may pose a threat to the employee or others, result in the destruction of evidence relevant to an investigation, result in loss of or damage to government property, or otherwise jeopardize legitimate government interests,“ according to OPM. “Before using these two types of leave, agencies must consider options to avoid or minimize the use of paid leave, such as changing the employee's duties or work location.“
The change is likely to be welcomed by critics of the current system, including watchdog groups and members of Congress, who have long complained that employees under investigation for misconduct have been placed on extended periods of paid leave .