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National Capital Region leaders push continuation of telework for feds

Maryland, Virginia and Washington, D.C., are urging the Trump administration to keep telework policies in place for federal workers, more than a fifth of whom live in the National Capital Region.

“While of course any essential employee should continue to report to work, we know that a continued federal telework policy will help save lives by allowing more of our region’s 360,000 federal employees to work from home,” Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan, Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam and Washington, D.C., Mayor Muriel Bowser wrote in an April 23 letter to Michael J. Rigas, acting director of the Office of Personnel Management.

“This is a hard balancing act between ensuring the continuation of critical government functions and ensuring the safety and well-being of employees,” they wrote.

The regional leaders have collaborated on establishing strict telework policies for the employees of their respective jurisdictions and “hope the federal telework posture is reflective of our own local operating statuses,” they wrote.

“We encourage the Administration to help ensure the safety of the federal workforce and our residents as we work together to fight this pandemic,” Hogan, Northam, and Bowser said. “Failure to do so could lead to a rise in cases and delay our ability to re-open the region.”

On April 23, OPM answered questions about telework and the opening of workplaces.

“As conditions change, agency heads should revisit telework policies and agreements in order to continue progression toward normal operations or to address changing conditions while retaining the flexibility needed during the response,” OPM said.

Those agencies with vulnerable employees “are encouraged to consider telework options for employees with vulnerable household members, until their state or region has entered Phase 3” -- described in Guidelines for Opening Up America Again as when the spread of the virus is sufficiently contained to allow unrestricted staffing of worksites and limited physical distancing, provided sanitation guidelines are followed.

For employees in localities where schools are closed, OPM said agencies should “review the full spectrum of available workplace flexibilities, including telework and [flexible work schedules], to support employees with children and other dependent care obligations.”

Reader comments

Fri, Apr 24, 2020

What about those Federal employees who are over 60 yrs old and have the CDC/OPM underlying health conditions? I think this group should be listed with the vulnerable employees to continue telework.

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