April 28, 2020

OPM Issues FAQs and Emergency Sick Leave Guidance Test

The Office of Personnel Management (OPM) issued new FAQs after the administration released guidance for agencies on how to resume “normal” operations and reopen federal buildings. The FAQs address issues around social distancing in the workplace, telework, workplace flexibilities for employees managing child care, “high-risk” employees, special circumstances for public-facing employees and more. H

OPM also issued guidance on use of emergency paid sick leave under the Emergency Paid Sick Leave Act. Federal employees are entitled to two additional weeks of paid sick leave if they contract the coronavirus or are instructed to quarantine after being exposed to COVID-19. The leave also can be used to help care for others but at two-thirds of an employee’s salary. The leave is available through Dec. 31.

Before making any decisions about leave, NTEU recommends you read our member-only primer on leave options to help make the best decision for you and your family.

National Capital Leaders Urge Continued Telework for Federal Employees

The governors of Maryland and Virginia and the mayor of Washington, D.C., sent a letter last week to the administration, urging the continuance of expanded telework policies for the federal workforce amid the coronavirus pandemic.

While the majority of federal employees are outside of Washington, D.C., the federal government has an overwhelming presence in the area.

DC Mayor Muriel Bowser along with Governors Larry Hogan of Maryland and Ralph Northam of Virginia warned against reopening federal buildings too soon.

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

OPM Delays the 2020 Federal Employee Viewpoint Survey

The 2020 Federal Employee Viewpoint Survey is being postponed for a second time and is now tentatively scheduled to begin July 13. The government-wide survey—which will run for six weeks—asks employees about their views on work, agencies, supervisors and more. NTEU will keep you updated on this as OPM continues to finalize the details.

NTEU Chapter 60 Feeds New Jersey Emergency Room Staff

To show its appreciation for the frontline medical workers in New Jersey, Chapter 60 (IRS New Jersey) had 20 pizzas from a local restaurant delivered to emergency room workers at Morristown Medical Center where the chapter treasurer’s spouse is a nurse. This act of saying “thank you” served a dual purpose of supporting a local business and feeding the tireless staff at the hospital’s emergency room. Read more here.

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April 21, 2020

OMB Issues Guidance for Reopening Federal Buildings

The Office of Management and Budget on Monday night issued a set of guidelines for federal agency leaders on how to “ramp back up government operations to the maximum extent possible, as local conditions warrant.”

It is important to note that this is guidance only, and does not include any deadlines or dates for when buildings are to be reopened or employees are to be called into the office.

NTEU has closely reviewed the guidance and it is clear that agencies need to consider local conditions regarding coronavirus before resuming normal operations. For example, there must be a sustained downward trend in illness and COVID-19 cases, plus proof that local hospitals have adequate capacity and robust testing of healthcare workers. NTEU agrees with these benchmarks, as well as others such as the ability to social distance at the workplace; adequate protective equipment and sanitation; temperature checks and testing for employees; and steady disinfection protocols.

The guidance also encourages continued use of telework and new scheduling or workplace arrangements that allow for adequate physical distancing.

NTEU will carefully monitor agency responses to this guidance and make sure that the health and safety of federal employees is taken into account before any decisions are made to resume normal operations, reopen buildings or reduce telework.

Federal-Postal Coalition Urges Congress to Support Federal Employees

The Federal-Postal Coalition, made up of 30 organizations including NTEU, sent a letter to every member of Congress about the needs and challenges of federal and postal employees in this global pandemic. In the letter, members of the coalition urged Congress to make sure essential federal and postal employees who have to report to work and those who have regular direct contact with the public are provided personal protective equipment, appropriate pay and maximum flexibilities during this health crisis.

“Our nation’s essential and frontline federal and postal employees are answering the call and showing the nation what public service means," the coalition wrote to Congress. “As you address the challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic, we urge you to protect, reward and take care of those who are putting the well-being of their fellow citizens above their own.”


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