Guidance for Department of Defense Civilians

Current as of April 20, 2020

The Department of Defense is committed to evaluating the threat from coronavirus disease 2019 and its impact on the nation’s security. Actions include restricting official travel and other steps to help contain the spread of COVID-19 and to protect the health of our civilian employees, contractor employees, service members and families.

Supervisors or base commanders can answer your questions about civilian and military policies. Local and state health departments will have information specific to your community.

Travel restrictions

The Department of Defense has extended travel restrictions to June 30. It has also put procedures in place to allow certain categories of travel to resume. The stop movement order applies to civilian military employees as well as service members and families. The travel restrictions have been lifted for the following categories of travel:

  • All Global Force Management and scheduled deployments and redeployments
  • Authorized travel for those who have departed their permanent duty station, are awaiting transportation and have already initiated travel (including intermediate stops)
  • Travel by patients and medical providers for the purpose of medical treatment for DOD personnel and their families

The following exceptions to travel restrictions will continue unchanged:

  • Authorized travelers whose TDY ends while this directive is in effect
  • Individuals pending retirement or separation

Individuals may still be approved to travel for mission, humanitarian or personal hardship reasons. Learn more about the travel restrictions.

Wearing cloth face coverings

Military personnel, families and supporting civilian members serve as role models during extremely challenging times. One way you can do this now is to take steps to protect yourself and others whenever you need to go out. This includes following Department of Defense and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidance for wearing cloth face coverings in public settings where social distancing may be hard to maintain. This can slow the spread of the virus and help people who may unknowingly have it from transmitting it to others.

  • Create your own cloth face coverings using common household items such as T-shirts, scarves and bandanas. Making and using these coverings helps protect public health while reserving critical supplies such as surgical masks and N-95 respirators for medical first responders, as current CDC guidance recommends.

  • Do not place cloth face coverings on children under age 2, anyone who has trouble breathing, is unconscious, incapacitated or otherwise unable to remove the mask without help.

  • Be careful not to touch your eyes, nose or mouth when removing your face covering. Wash your hands as soon as you finish.

  • Wear your face covering whenever you are on Department of Defense property, installations (except personal residences) and facilities when 6 feet of social distance isn't possible in public areas or work centers.

Changes at your workplace

Keeping a safe distance from others is key to limiting the spread of COVID-19. Your supervisor may ask you to:

  • Work an alternative schedule, such as compressed hours or flexible workdays or hours.

  • Participate in teleconferences rather than in-person meetings.

  • Work from home, if you can carry out your duties through telework.

If your workplace closes due to COVID-19, your command may authorize Weather and Safety leave to employees who can’t perform their duties at home. Teleworkers should continue to work as normal.

Adaptive equipment availability

If you need to work from home, you may be eligible to receive adaptive equipment (ergonomic keyboards, lumbar support devices, screen magnification software, etc.) to help you perform your job. The Computer/Electronic Accommodations Program will:

  • Provide equipment for identified needs at no cost to the agency

  • In many instances, ship equipment directly to your home

  • Conduct your needs assessment via telephone or email

  • Extend medical documentation deadlines

If you have limitations due to hearing or vision loss, memory loss, arthritis or carpal tunnel, visit the CAP website for more information.

When you must stay at home

There may be times when staying home is in the best interest of your coworkers and the community.

  • You must self-quarantine for 14 days if you recently returned from overseas travel. You should telework during this time, if possible. You may receive Weather and Safety leave if you can’t perform your duties remotely.

  • You may receive Weather and Safety leave if public health authorities order you to self-quarantine.

  • You may request telework if you have been in contact with someone infected with COVID-19 and want to self-quarantine. You may also request annual leave, advanced annual leave, other paid time off or leave without pay.

  • You may request telework if you need to care for a family member who is not sick, but who is in quarantine after being exposed to COVID-19. You must track your hours and use paid or unpaid leave for time spent on caregiving.

Working when school or day care closes

If your child’s day care or school has shut down because of COVID-19 and you don’t have alternative child care, check with your supervisor about the following options:

  • Continue teleworking while your children are home. You must track your hours and use paid or unpaid leave for time spent on caregiving.

  • Use annual leave or other paid time off, such as accrued compensatory time or credit hours.

  • Work an alternative schedule, such as compressed hours or flexible workdays or hours.

If you or a family member become sick

  • Speak with your supervisor if you or a family member becomes sick and you run out of sick leave. You may receive an advance of up to 30 days of sick leave for yourself, and up to 13 days of sick leave to care for a family member who is ill.

  • If you become ill and need emergency care while working overseas, your command may prepay the cost of your care.

  • If your illness is work-related, you may be eligible for workers’ compensation benefits.

Healthy habits at work and home

We all have a role in keeping ourselves, our coworkers and others healthy and safe.

  • Wash your hands regularly with soap and water.

  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth.

  • Avoid large gatherings.

  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick.

  • Call your doctor if you have symptoms of COVID-19, including fever, cough and shortness of breath.

  • Clean and disinfect surfaces you regularly touch — counters, desktops, door handles, coffee pots, keyboards.

We will continue to provide updates as the situation evolves and additional guidance for civilian employees develops. You can find this guidance at Defense Civilian Personnel Advisory Service Emergency Preparedness.

Stay up to date on all the latest information on COVID-19. For Department of Defense updates for the military community regarding the virus that causes COVID-19, view the following sites: