IRS building, Washington DC shutterstock ID: 395325124 by  Rob Crandall

New OPM order mandates telework

The IRS is planning to issue an evacuation order that would allow its employees to telework due to concerns over COVID-19.

The National Treasury Employees Union, which represents 60,000 IRS employees, said that the agency had informed union leadership on March 26 the order could be issued as soon as March 27.

"In doing so, the IRS is invoking a provision in federal regulations that allows it to require telework-eligible employees to perform work from their home, regardless of whether they have a telework agreement in place at the time the evacuation notice is issued," NTEU wrote in an internal memo.

An evacuation order, though rarely used, allows agencies to move all telework-eligible employees to a mandatory telework posture, regardless of whether employees had a prior arrangement or signed up for the program.

Despite its ominous name, a federal evacuation order does not shutter agency buildings. The evacuation order has no effect upon employees whose jobs don't permit them to telework.

"With respect to employees who cannot perform work remotely, the IRS states it will follow [Office of Budget and Management] guidance and grant them weather and safety leave."

NTEU also said that the IRS indicated management would “reserve the right to direct employees to come into the office to perform mission critical work.”

The Bureau of Financial Services, another agency within the Treasury Department, issued a similar order on March 24.

NTEU has repeatedly pushed for the IRS to provide its service center workers with sanitation supplies when handling tax documents and find alternate means for employees to perform work duties without needing to be in close proximity to one another in order to prevent coronavirus transmission and promote social distancing.

In response to the coronavirus, the IRS also pushed back the federal income taxes filing date to July 15.

FCW contacted IRS for confirmation and comment and this story will be updated if officials reply.

Reader comments

Wed, Apr 15, 2020

While millions of private sector people cannot work, I find it just amazing that federal employees are complaining b/c of an increased internet bill. What would you rather have? Full time employment? Or No Employment? I'm so grateful I have my job. Maybe we should quit complaining and be thankful for what we havae.

Thu, Apr 9, 2020 MikeM

If you're already paying for internet, what's the issue again? How much you pay for gas to get to work? For folks who don't have internet, it is an extra expense. For those who can't get it, it's a severe issue. I guess spreading convid-19 is a better option? (sarcasm)

Mon, Mar 30, 2020

Everyone is missing the point. Telework doesn't necessarily work for everyone. I for one am located in an urban area on a ranch, our internet service is limited at best. it cost me $118. per month for internet service and i do not get any reimbursement from the GOV for that service. the GOV will provide laptop computer and associated IT equipment. My gov cell phone also is not working optimal since the internet is not as good as it is in the rural or city areas. So OPM or IRS can mandate all they want some people cannot use the internet service where their home is located regardless of mandates. These are the facts!

Mon, Mar 30, 2020

The what? I presume you mean the Bureau of the Fiscal Service. Wow.

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