The VA has started “reentry” of employees who have been mainly or exclusively teleworking to a hybrid of onsite and offsite work, beginning with management officials, with employees in bargaining units to follow “over the next several months,” officials said.
They meanwhile noted that due to the nature of the department’s work, about 80 percent of the VA’s more than 400,000 employees have continued to work onsite in the two years since the pandemic began. For others, work scheduling will reflect lessons learned during that time, including telework’s value to the department in recruitment and retention, they said.
Meanwhile, pressure continues from Capitol Hill Republicans for more agencies to return more employees to onsite work, with the latest of many such letters to various agencies going to the EEOC. The top Republicans on the Education and Labor and Oversight and Reform committees asked for the agency’s plans for reopening offices, “an explanation of why offices remain closed in states and localities where private businesses and state and local government agencies have returned to in-person work” and “an analysis of the impact of closed offices on intake and processing of charges.”
They also asked for information on whether employees who have been working offsite are receiving the locality pay rate applying there or applying at their regular site. That issue has been raised previously regarding other agencies, with the implication that in some cases salaries should be reduced for employees working from homes outside of higher-paid city zones where their offices are located.