American Rescue Plan Act: update on Emergency
Federal Employee Leave (EFEL)
Multiple questions were submitted to the Industrial Relations Department regarding the recently
passed American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 (ARPA). As part of the bill, funding for Emergency Federal
Employee Leave (EFEL) was appropriated. The APWU is monitoring all developments regarding
EFEL and will continue to share information as it is received.
The Office of Personnel Management (OPM) is responsible for administering the fund and
issuing guidelines on this new leave. We will not know how this leave will be implemented
government-wide until OPM issues the regulations and guidelines.
However, this is what is known:
• All postal employees, career or non-career, qualify for EFEL
• $570,000,000 has been allotted for payment of EFEL government-wide.
• Employees can utilize up to 600 hours of EFEL in total.
• The law allows these 600 hours to be used through September 30, 2021 or until the fund is
depleted-whichever comes first.
Employees can utilize this leave if unable to work due to the following COVID-19 related reasons:
1. Subject to a federal, state, or local quarantine or isolation order related to COVID-19.
2. Has been advised by a health care provider to self-quarantine due to concerns
related to COVID-19.
3. Caring for an individual who is subject to such an order as in (1) or has been so advised as in
l. Experiencing COVID-19 symptoms and seeking a medical diagnosis.
;_ Caring for the employee's son or daughter if the school or place of care of the son or daughter
has been closed, requires or makes optional a virtual learning instruction model, requires or makes
optional a hybrid of in-person and virtual learning instruction models, or if the child-care
provider of the son or daughter is unavailable, due to COVID-19 precautions.
. Experiencing any other substantially similar condition.
. Caring for a family member with a mental or physical disability or who is 55 years of
age or older and incapable of self-care, without regard to whether another individual other than the ployee is available to care for such family member, if the place of care for such family mem is closed or the direct care provider is unavailable due to COVID-19.
8. Obtaining immunization (vaccination) relate COVID-19 or is recovering from any injury, ability,
illness, or condition related to such immunization.
Pay is at the employee's normal rate of hourly pay up to a maximum of $2,800 per pay period.
NTFT, PTF, PTR, and PSEs weekly hours paid be based upon the average numbers the employee
worked the 26-pay periods prior to the leave be taken up to a maximum of 40 hours a week.
Employees will not earn credit towards retirement, retirement contributions, contribute
to TSP or receive TSP matching funds on hours paid under the EFEL.
To take this leave, employees should submit a Form 3971 and indicate they are requesting EFEL
on the form. Employees must identify which of 8 qualifying conditions they qualify under for leave. Postal management is to code the leave un TACS code 086-21. The Postal Service informed APWU that this code was made available in TACS on March 17.
Management is taking the position that qualify reason number 1 does not apply to postal employees as
they are not subject to quarantine/isolation ordes related to COVID-19. Also, there has not been "
other substantially similar condition" identified this time that would qualify under number 6.
On March 18, the Postal Service informed President Dimondstein that they are awaiting further clarification from OPM on the implementation, documen tion, and other items related to the usage of EFEL.
OPM has instructed all government agencies, including the Postal Service, not to issue their own
official permanent policies until the OPM-issued guidance is released.
It is anticipated that the OPM guidance will be released in the next week or two. At that point, we will
share further information with the members.