The Trump administration clarified rules for government workers Monday to afford them more flexibility in taking days off for religious observation.
According to the new Office of Personnel Management (OPM) guidance, federal employees now have the option to rearrange their work hours in order to earn compensation for time they take off for religious reasons. (RELATED: Trump Signs Faith-Based Initiative Giving Religious More Influence In Federal Government)
The new rules allow employees “to elect to engage in overtime work and earn a special form of compensatory time off to make up for the time lost in meeting those personal religious requirements.”
“The federal workforce is incredibly diverse. Religious compensatory time is another way to respect the many, varying religious traditions of our civil servants,” Acting OPM Director Margaret Weichert said. “This rule will provide flexibility to our current employees and adds another tool to recruit the next generation of dedicated civil servants, while furthering our goal of developing a diverse workforce.”
A memorandum summarizing the rules also makes clear that employees can take time off for any reason related to their “sincerely held personal religious beliefs,” and that federal officials do not get to decide what constitutes a legitimate religious absence.
“President Trump has just amended government regulations to protect religious expression in the workplace, so that employees have more clarity and confidence when taking time off work to observe the requirements of their faith and making up those hours,” White House principal deputy press secretary Hogan Gidley told The Daily Caller about the new guidance. “While the past two Administrations tried, President Trump got it done for all Americans by finalizing this rule.”