Weather and Safety Leave: SOUTH TEXAS WINTER STORM WARNING

As we’ve all heard for over a week, there is some brutally cold weather headed our way for the next two days. Since this part of Texas is generally not prepared for this sort of weather, most of the roads used by agents to drive to/from work will not be treated with salt or anything else to effectively prevent ice from forming.

The National Weather Service has broadcasted a Winter Storm Warning from 9pm Thursday to Noon Friday and is asking drivers to exercise extreme caution while driving. Freezing rain and sleet is expected over the next two days.

The “WEATHER” in weather and safety leave is designed for this exact scenario.

Article 14, Section I of the Collective Bargaining Agreement and 5 USC § 6329c allow for agents to be granted weather and safety leave for a day, or part of a day, during which such conditions prevent an employee from reporting to work.

However, to be eligible, you must provide your supervisor with evidence that you made every reasonable effort to report to work, but that such conditions prevented you from doing so.

In the event that such weather conditions prevent you from reporting to work, the Laredo Sector has established a procedure by which employees must first request annual leave from their station supervisors, and then request weather and safety leave when they return to work. 

In the meantime, here’s what you should do if you cannot safely get to work:

·       Call your supervisor and request weather and safety leave — they will likely tell you that they can only approve annual leave. Fine, so be it.

·       Gather any evidence you can that shows you made “every reasonable effort to report to work, but that such conditions prevented” you from doing so. The key word is reasonable so, for example, take pictures or videos of icy roads, closed road notifications or signs, weather reports indicating dangerous conditions, pictures of vehicles in ditches, an explanation of how you made it part of the way to work, but the roads continued to get worse, etc. 

·       If your primary route to work is closed, check other routes, but be reasonable. If an alternate route is open, but it’s going to take hours to get to work, or those roads are likely just as dangerous as the primary road, be prepared to explain that.

·       You will not be granted weather and safety leave if you just wake up, look at the temperature, and then crawl back into bed. You have to do some work to document the unsafe nature of the roadways. 

We’ve asked the Laredo Sector to send Weather and Safety Leave guidance to station management so first line supervisors know how to respond to weather and safety leave requests due to the inclement weather.

If you are able to get to work over the next couple of days, be extremely careful when you drive, particularly on the roads that aren’t heavily used. Ice can sneak up on you and the last thing we need is someone getting into a wreck because they were driving too quickly for the road conditions.

Please let us know if we can assist you with this or any other matter.

Thank you for your continued support!

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