Federal employees “have been teleworking successfully” during the pandemic and they should be allowed to continue doing so, the senators—all Democrats–representing Virginia and Maryland have said in a letter to OPM and OMB.
“Your current guidance is endangering the health and safety of federal workers and everyone in our region. And since 85 percent of federal employees work outside of our region, it endangers the entire country. We urge you to issue clearer guidance directing agencies to continue maximizing telework throughout the COVID-19 pandemic,” says the letter
“Many workers in our area still lack access to regular child care due to COVID-19, and ordering these workers back into the office makes it needlessly harder for them to balance work and family obligations during the pandemic,” it says. Further, since many of them use public transportation to commute, “increased crowding on trains and buses will only further increase the risk of spreading COVID-19.”
While the letter mainly focuses on the capital area—where there have been recalls to the Pentagon and other headquarters buildings–it says that similar considerations apply nationwide, noting that 85 percent of federal employees work outside that area.
Meanwhile, the IG’s office at OPM has said that it will review how that agency’s practices in returning its own employees to their normal workplaces in response to a request by Rep. Gerald Connolly, D-Va., that the IGs of all major departments and independent agencies conduct such reviews. That follows a similar commitment by the IG at the EPA.
“Now, inspectors general across government must do the same. Nothing less than the health and safety of 2.1 million federal employees demands it,” he said.
Scrutiny of Telework Barriers Sought (June 23)