New Rules Give Federal Employee Travelers Comp Time

January 28, 2005 ( - As of Friday, federal workers will get compensatory time off in exchange for their time spent traveling as part of their job responsibilities.

According to rules published in the Federal Register, t he compensatory leave will be credited in direct proportion to the amount of time spent traveling for work with senior personnel officials given the choice of authorizing leave in six or 15 minute increments, reported . Federal workers aren’t eligible for the new rules if they are already being compensated for their travel time.

The federal Office of Personnel Management (OPM) set out in great detail how agency officials should judge travel time spent for work.Usual waiting time, such as layovers between flights, may be counted under travel status while meals and several other leisure activities, however, must be excluded, according to the rules.

An unusually long layover also won’t count if workers can use the time for their own needs, the rules said. If employees travel to a temporary duty station directly from their home, they must deduct time that would usually be spent commuting to their official duty station.

“The new rules will now allow federal employees to be credited with time off for uncompensated periods of official travel that occur during nonwork hours,” said OPM Director Kay Coles James. “This is a benefit for federal employees [that is] not often available in the private sector, and these regulations implement legislation passed by Congress late last year.”

The time off must be used within 26 pay periods after it is awarded.

The new rules are in response to provisions in the 2004 Federal Workforce Flexibility Act. US Senator George Voinovich, (R-Ohio), who originally introduced the legislation, said the new leave authority will provide innovative tools to improve hiring, retention and management in the federal government.