Nearly three dozen Senate Democrats have urged the SSA to reconsider its recent cancellation of a telework program for some 12,000 of its employees, saying “we fear it will harm productivity by demoralizing employees who must scramble to make alternate childcare and other arrangements, encouraging early retirements, and undermining efforts to recruit promising new workers.”
The SSA made the change effective in late November, citing a desire to have more employees in public-facing positions more of the time, along with changes including restoring field office hours open to the public for the entire day on Wednesdays, starting January 8.
A letter to the agency pointed to IG findings that the telework program improved efficiency in teleservice operations and saved nearly $1 million annually in rental costs. It asked for information including any cost-benefit analysis done on the cutback; why employees were given only 20 days of notice before the change took effect; how the agency determined that the change complies with the terms of a recent contract with the AFGE union; and whether managers and other non-bargaining unit employees in the affected offices remain eligible to telework.
The SSA is one of several large agencies that have cut back on telework in the last several years despite encouragement from OPM to have robust programs in the name of work-life balance and employee engagement.