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Information for NIST Staff Members Affected by the Boulder County Wildfires

The following HR information is for employees impacted by the wildfires in the Boulder, Colorado, area. Please check here regularly for the latest information. 

Evacuation Pay

NIST has authorized evacuation payments to employees who reside in an area impacted by the Marshall and Middle Fork Fires in Boulder County, Colorado, who are under either an oral or written mandatory evacuation order or a recommended evacuation order from the state or local government. To receive evacuation payments, the employee must relocate to a safe haven (a designated area to which the employee evacuated to) and be prevented from performing their regular duties. Eligible employees shall receive evacuation payments during the period of the applicable mandatory or recommended evacuation order, or until NIST terminates the authorization for evacuation pay. For the period covered by the evacuation payments, employees are considered as performing active federal service in their position without a break in service.

Evacuation payments are made to employees who are prevented from performing the regular duties of their positions. Payment will be made on the employee’s regular payday, since evacuation payments reflect the employee’s regular pay. They are not treated as a debt owed to the federal government.

Employees with a regularly scheduled tour of duty (full-time, part-time) shall be paid their normal rate of pay (including any applicable allowances, differentials, or other authorized payments) for their normal basic workweek during the evacuation period. For employees on an intermittent work schedule, the supervisor/manager must estimate the days and hours the employee should have been expected to work during the evacuation period (not to exceed 80 hours in a biweekly period). The intermittent employee’s previous six-week average can be used to project the days and hours of work.

Employees are entitled to night pay differential and Sunday premium pay for applicable hours in the employee’s normal basic workweek, as well as law enforcement availability pay; administratively uncontrollable overtime pay; standby duty premium pay; regular overtime pay for firefighters covered by 5 U.S.C. 5545b; recruitment, relocation, or retention incentives (if paid on a biweekly basis); and supervisory differentials, as applicable. Deductions authorized by law, including retirement or Social Security (FICA) and income tax withholdings, shall be deducted from the evacuation payment, as well as all previously authorized allotments.

Employees can be required to perform any work considered necessary or required to be performed during the period of the evacuation without regard to the grades or titles of the employees. Failure or refusal to perform assigned work is a basis for terminating evacuation payments. 

There is no identified code for evacuation pay. Pay should be processed as normal. Affected employees should contact their supervisor and timekeeper. Supervisors should submit the names of those individuals to essex.brown [at] (Essex Brown).

DOC Guidance on Evacuation Payments

Travel and Subsistence Pay

Transportation expenses may be paid as prescribed by the Federal Travel Regulation, Chapter 301-10 for costs incurred en route from the point of evacuation to the point of safe haven as determined by the approving official. Per diem while en route will be paid at 75% of the applicable rate for the employee and any dependents 12 years of age or older for travel days. Dependents under 12 years of age are entitled to 50% of the applicable per diem rate.

Per diem at the safe haven location may be authorized in 30-day increments but cannot exceed 180 days past the effective date of the order to evacuate. Per diem rates are as follows:

  • First 30 days – the employee and any dependents 12 years of age or older are authorized full per diem based on the locality rate. Dependents under 12 years of age are authorized 50% of the employee’s per diem rate.
  • After 30 days – the per diem rates will be reduced to 60 percent of the authorized rates listed for the first 30 days.

SATO should be contacted, if at all possible, at 1-855-813-2844, to assist with lodging and rental car reservations. Employees who have a travel card may use their card for evacuation travel expenses. Employees who do not have a card may apply for a travel card.  

Some miscellaneous expenses such as lodging taxes and internet connection fees are reimbursable. Any miscellaneous expenses that are approved must be listed on the travel authorization. Expenses not listed within the FTR as reimbursable may not be paid.

Evacuation travel claims cannot be processed within the E2 travel system. A travel authorization must be prepared using a manual CD29 form. The authorization must:

  • Be prepared as soon as possible even though the evacuation travel has already occurred or is in process.
  • Contain a statement in the remarks section that the travel is for Evacuation Travel for Colorado Wildfires.
  • Be in the name of the employee and list the names and birthdates of all dependents.
  • List a current year project/task from the employee’s OU.
  • Be signed by the appropriate approving official.
  • Be submitted through the Customer Interaction Center (cic [at] (cic[at]nist[dot]gov)) to be assigned to the NIST Travel Group. NIST Travel will assign a manual document number.

The travel voucher must be prepared using a manual CD370 form. The voucher must:

  • Be submitted within 5 business days of the end of evacuation travel or at least every 30 days for long term situations.  
  • List a project/task that matches the authorization.
  • Be signed and dated by the employee and the approving official.
  • Be supported by lodging receipts, rental car receipts, and any other receipt for expenses over $75.
  • Be submitted through the Customer Interaction Center (cic [at] (cic[at]nist[dot]gov)) for processing by the NIST Travel Group.

Any questions regarding evacuation travel policies or the preparation/payment of travel authorizations or vouchers should be directed to cic [at] (cic[at]nist[dot]gov). The appropriate member of the travel staff will respond.

Advances of Pay

Employees who must relocate to a safe haven may be advanced up to 30 days’ pay. These payments are intended to defray the immediate expenses incidental to the evacuation. 

Advance pay is a reimbursable advance of the employee’s pay (i.e., a loan that is to be repaid interest-free). Advances of pay may be recovered under terms of a repayment agreement, by salary offset, from a lump sum leave settlement, etc. The entire amount, or a portion of the entire amount, may be waived at the discretion of an employee's bureau/operating unit head without regard to limits on agency approval of waivers of overpayments of pay and allowances. An advance of pay is in addition to evacuation pay, travel, per diem, and subsistence pay.

Emergency Leave Transfer Program (ELTP)

On January 14, 2022, the Office of Personnel Management (OPM), in consultation with the Office of Management and Budget (OMB), determined that an Emergency Leave Transfer Program (ELTP) is warranted for Federal employees adversely affected by the 2021 Midwest and Southern Tornado Outbreak and the Boulder County, Colorado, Wildfires.

Therefore, the Department of Commerce, in accordance with existing Departmental policy, has established a separate ELTP for use by all Department employees adversely affected by the Boulder County, Colorado Wildfires 2021, in the following area and incident period:

Colorado Wildfires and Straight-line Winds 

  • Incident Period: December 30, 2021, and continuing 
  • Declaration date: December 31, 2021 
  • Designated Counties: Boulder 

To be eligible, an employee or an employee’s family member must be adversely affected by a major disaster or emergency (i.e., Boulder County Wildfires), which causes severe hardship to the employee or the employee’s family member(s) to such a degree that the employee’s absence from work is required. The ELTP may only use donated annual leave to care for a family member if that family member has no reasonable access to other forms of assistance.

Applications must be submitted to your Leave Transfer Program Coordinator (LTPC), by either you or your personal representative, as applicable, no later than Friday, February 18, 2022, to be considered for approval.  

A potential leave recipient must complete OPM Form 1637, Application to Become a Leave Recipient Under the Emergency Leave Transfer Program. The employee must clearly indicate they are requesting to be a recipient under Feds Adversely Affected by the Boulder County Wildfires. The application must contain:

  • The name, position title, pay plan, and grade or pay level of the potential emergency leave recipient;
  • A statement describing the employee’s need for participation in the program, and
  • The major disaster or emergency declared (Feds Affected by the Boulder County Wildfires) by the President and the nature and severity of the major disaster or emergency (Feds Affected by the Boulder County Wildfires) as it relates to the applicant.

A personal representative of the employee may submit a completed written application on the employee’s behalf if the employee is not able to do so themselves. The written application must indicate the relationship of the signer to the potential recipient.

The applicant or personal representative (and the applicant’s leave-approving official) will be notified in writing by their LTPC of the decision on the application within 10 calendar days (excluding Saturdays, Sundays, and legal holidays) after the complete application is received. If the application is disapproved, your LTPC must provide the reasons for the denial.

Employees who wish to donate a specific number of hours of annual leave must complete OPM Form 1638, Request to Donate Annual Leave Under the Emergency Leave Transfer; must clearly indicate the ELTP they are donating to (Feds Affected by the Boulder County Wildfires); and submit the form to their LTPC. Donations must be made in whole-hour increments. The minimum donation is 1 hour. 

In most situations, unused donated annual leave must be restored to the annual leave accounts of all emergency leave donors.  

For additional information on employee eligibility, how to be an ELTP recipient, or how to be an ELTP donor, employees should see the Department’s Emergency Leave Transfer Program policy or contact Carmene Brown (carmene.brown [at] (carmene[dot]brown[at]nist[dot]gov)) in OHRM.   

Employees should submit all recipient and donation requests through AskHR.

Emergency Leave Flexibilities

Various pay and leave flexibilities exist to assist in meeting the needs of both the affected employees and NIST during such an emergency. NIST must achieve the two equally important goals of protecting the federal workforce and ensuring continuity of operations. The immediate flexibilities that exist include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • Maximizing telework capacity to assist employees in balancing work and personal responsibilities while minimizing the need for travel into or through affected areas;
  • Employing the full range of flexibilities under existing Alternative Work Schedules (AWS), including allowing affected employees to:
    • Adjust starting and stopping times;
    • Change which day the regularly scheduled day off is observed under compressed (5/4/9 and 4/10) or flexible (maxiflex) work schedules;
    • Change which AWS schedule an employee works to better balance home/work life needs during the emergency. Current regulations do not allow hybrid schedules; and
    • Earn credit hours during periods when additional work can be performed so that corresponding time off may be used at a future date when perhaps time off will be needed for personal issues (dealing with insurance adjustors, contractors, etc.). By law, this option is only available to employees on certain flexible schedules.
  • Approving appropriate forms of unscheduled personal leave such as annual leave, sick leave, leave without pay, accrued compensatory time or credit hours, and time off awards, so that employees may address personal and family situations;
  • Advancing annual and/or sick leave, pursuant to current laws and regulations, if necessary;
  • Approving overtime and/or compensatory time in lieu of overtime, if necessary, to meet critical deadlines or mission requirements;
  • First-line supervisors have the authority to approve excused absences/administrative leave up to one hour in duration for qualifying circumstances. Such leave is limited to the amount approved by the highest hierarchical level; it is not cumulative;
  • If the NIST campus is open but an employee affected by the emergency is prevented from reporting to work or teleworking due to severe weather or its aftermath and can be spared from usual work assignments, the employee may be granted Weather and Safety/Administrative Leave by the OU director. This flexibility does not apply to employees who are out of the office on pre-approved leave; they will remain in their current status and be charged personal leave until the date they were scheduled to return to duty.

OPM Handbook on Pay and Leave Flexibilities During Emergencies

OHRM Contact Information

OHRM is here to help! For guidance on the above pay and leave flexibilities, please contact OHRM’s Brittany Patterson (brittany.patterson [at] (brittany[dot]patterson[at]nist[dot]gov)) or Teresa Whiteside (Teresa.whiteside [at] (Teresa[dot]whiteside[at]nist[dot]gov)).

Contacting Your OU

If you need to report your status to your OU, you may reach out to the following people:

  • Communications Technology Laboratory: Brian Copello – (720) 498-3196
  • Information Technology Laboratory: Brad Alpert – (303) 497-5920 or Mike Frey – (303) 497-5690
  • Material Measurement Laboratory: Wendi Copello – (303) 497-3779 or John Perkins – (720) 355-6568
  • Physical Measurement Laboratory: Bob Hickernell – (303) 709-1523
  • Office of Facilities and Plant Management: Katie Schlatter – (303) 519-5202 

Local Resources

For the latest information on the wildfire situation, including road closures, evacuation orders, shelter locations and more, please visit the Boulder Office of Emergency Management’s Emergency Information page.

Boulder County has updated its list of available resources on its website, including assistance with housing, vital records, transportation, FEMA and insurance, as well as mental health support. Resources can also be accessed by calling the Boulder County Public Call Center at 303-413-7730.

NIST employees in Boulder may contact Wellness EAP at 1-800-866-8344, which is available 24/7, to schedule a meeting with a local resource. 

How Can I Help?

Please visit the Boulder Office of Emergency Management site for the latest information on how to help those affected. 

Several Boulder area charities can be supported through the Combined Federal Campaign. Search the CFC catalog for organizations that are providing help with housing, finding lost pets, behavioral health, and more.

Created January 1, 2022, Updated February 2, 2022