Earlier this week, the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) issued a memo for agency leaders with some resources and guidance on the coronavirus and the federal workforce.
While emphasizing that the risk to the general public remains low, OPM offered links to the CDC and other federal agencies for up-to-date information on the coronavirus. The memo further recommends good health habits and “’social distancing’, otherwise known as telework, to help prevent the spread of illness.
It’s ironic that the same administration trying to gut telework in labor contracts is now suggesting it as an “appropriate workplace flexibility” to help agencies in dealing with a potential public health concern.
At the Department of Health and Human Services, NTEU continues to oppose restrictions imposed by management that limit teleworking to one day a week.
At another NTEU-represented agency, the Social Security Administration proposed removing telework from the contract at the Office of Hearings Operations and giving managers the ability to approve or change telework schedules with no accountability. NTEU fought this proposal at the Federal Service Impasses Panel and won.
Protecting employee health and safety is just one benefit of telework. In advocating for this important program, NTEU has repeatedly noted that telework increases productivity, gives employees more flexibility, reduces traffic congestion, improves employee retention and recruitment, and shrinks the government’s real estate footprint. We will continue this advocacy at the bargaining table, in the courts and on Capitol Hill.