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Evacuation Payments

Employees who are given a verbal or written order by the head of the operating unit or a delegated authority to leave a duty station in the continental United States, Puerto Rico, the Panama Canal Zone, or any territory or possession of the United States because of danger to their own life and safety and that of their families, or who are prevented from performing the duties of their positions because of natural disaster, civil unrest or other situation beyond the control of the United States government, may be continued in a pay status at their current rates for the duration not to exceed 180 days. For all purposes, they are deemed on active service for this period.

Evacuations during a Pandemic

Employees may also be ordered to evacuate their regular worksites and work from home (or an alternative location mutually agreeable to the agency and the employee) during a pandemic health crisis without regard to whether the employee has a telework agreement in place at the time the order to evacuate is issued. In this situation, the employee's home (or an alternative location mutually agreeable to the supervisor and employee), including a location under quarantine or confinement, is considered the safe haven during the period of evacuation.

Employee Coverage

Evacuation payments are applicable to employees in “Executive Agencies” (as defined in 5 U.S.C. 105), and to employees of Executive agencies who are United States (U.S.) citizens or U.S. nationals, who are not citizens or nationals but were recruited with a transportation agreement to return them to the recruitment area, or who are aliens hired within the U.S.

Advances of Pay

Heads of operating units or one to whom authority has been delegated may advance up to 30 days pay, allowances, and differentials to full-time and part-time employees who are officially ordered to leave their duty station in the circumstances described above. Evacuation payments are intended to defray the immediate expenses incidental to the evacuation. The amount advanced to an intermittent employee will be based on the average number of days the employee would likely have worked during the time period.

Evacuation payments are computed based on the employee's rate of pay (including any applicable allowances, differentials, or other authorized payments) to which the employee was regularly entitled immediately before the issuance of the order to evacuate, regardless of the employee's work schedule during the evacuation period. Evacuation pay and advances of pay will be made less all deductions required by law, including retirement or Social Security (FICA) deductions, authorized allotments, and Federal tax withholding.

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 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, and per diem.

Travel and Subsistence

Travel expenses and per diem determined in accordance with the Federal Travel Regulations (FTR) will be paid to employees and their dependents (whether or not such employees would be covered by the FTR) from the date of evacuation to arrival at a safe haven (usually the post to which evacuated). During a pandemic health crisis, payment of travel and subsistence expenses should not be necessary in most situations (see 5 CFR 550.405.)

Subsistence payments at the maximum rate (or a lesser rate if determined appropriate) may be paid evacuees upon arrival at a safe haven not to exceed 30 days from the date of evacuation except that children under 12 will receive one half that rate. If, after 30 days, the evacuation has not terminated, the maximum rate payable in both instances will be reduced by 40 percent. This lesser rate may be paid for a maximum of 180 days from the date of evacuation or until an operating unit head or a delegated authority terminates the payment.

Work Assignment

Employees at a safe haven may be assigned any work, which the evacuation makes necessary without regard to employee grade levels or titles. However, work may not be assigned to an employee unless the supervisor knows the employee has the necessary knowledge and skills to perform the assigned work. Refusal to perform assigned work may be the basis for termination of evacuation payments and potential disciplinary action. However, an employee's inability to perform assigned work because of lack of knowledge or skills may not be a basis for terminating evacuation payments or taking disciplinary action.

Termination of Evacuation Payments

Not later than 180 days after the evacuation, or earlier as practicable, action must be taken to assign employees to a regular duty station. Evacuation payments which have not been terminated by an operating unit head or delegated authority will cease when they are no longer warranted (e.g., based on guidance provided by State, local, or tribal public health officials or Federal officials such as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention regarding the status of the pandemic health crisis) or on the day the employee:

  • Resumes his/her duties at the regular worksite from which he or she was evacuated after the applicable order to evacuate is rescinded;
  • Retires;
  • Is reassigned out of the evacuation area;
  • Is separated or determined to have abandoned his/her position; or
  • Is declared a missing person under the Missing Persons Act.


5 U.S.C. 5527
5 CFR 550, Subpart D

Updated September 20, 2017