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Emergency Leave Transfer Program Open to Judiciary
The President has signed into law P.L. No. 109-229, an act requiring the Office
of Personnel Management, after consultation with the Administrative Office, to
allow federal judicial branch employees to participate in an emergency leave
transfer program for disasters and emergencies. The legislation passed the full
Senate last fall and was passed by the House in May 2006.
Shortly after Hurricanes Katrina and Rita uprooted thousands of people
throughout the Gulf Coast region, the Judicial Conference requested legislative
authority to allow employees of the judicial branch to participate in emergency
leave transfer programs. Senator Susan Collins (R-ME), Chair of the Senate
Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, agreed to introduce S.
1736 on an expedited basis, given the emergency situation in the Gulf Coast
Prior to passage of the legislation, in the event of a major disaster or
emergency that resulted in severe adverse effects for a substantial number of
federal employees, the Office of Personnel Management, at the direction of the
President, had the authority under 5 U.S.C. 6391 to establish an emergency leave
transfer program at executive branch agencies.
Under such a program, an employee in an executive agency, at the agency’s
discretion, could donate unused annual leave for transfer to employees of his or
her agency or to employees of other executive branch agencies who were adversely
affected by the disaster or emergency. P.L. 109-229 provides employees of the
judicial branch, including the courts, with the same flexibility and authority
to participate in such programs as the executive branch.
Since 1997, emergency leave transfer authority has been used for the
executive branch three times: after the African Embassy bombings in 1998,
following the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, and in the aftermath of
Hurricane Katrina in 2005.