Washington D.C. – The National Treasury Employees Union today updated its checklist of steps the government can take to better protect federal employees from coronavirus, showing some progress over the last two weeks but still plenty of tasks that remain unfinished.
NTEU issued the list on March 16 in response to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announcement that gatherings of 50 or more people should be canceled for two months.
At that time, NTEU National President Tony Reardon called for the federal government to close all federal buildings where 50 or more employees are still required to report to work.
“Now, two weeks later, we still think this is the safest option for federal employees, many of whom continue working alongside hundreds of people, and growing increasingly anxious about their ability to remain healthy and protect their families,” Reardon said.
According to NTEU, federal agencies have fully completed only one of the eight items on the list: halting international and domestic travel for federal employees unless absolutely critical to public health and safety. As a result, many agencies have switched to online or telephone meetings and successfully cut down on the number of in-person gatherings.
In three other areas, NTEU reports partial progress: expanding telework, authorizing weather and safety leave for certain employees who are unable to telework, and extending the tax filing deadline.
"Some agencies have moved to maximum or mandatory telework policies, giving federal employees the ability to work from the safety of their own home while they keep doing the important work of the federal government,” Reardon said. “But there is still room for improvement because policies are being inconsistently applied.”
While the Treasury Department extended the tax filing deadline to July 15, NTEU continues to encourage an extension to Oct. 15 because it would alleviate the strain on IRS employees who are working on processing returns and allow the IRS to temporarily close facilities for a more thorough cleaning.
“Federal employees do essential work related to public health, stabilizing the economy and providing security, and this checklist is designed to allow that work to continue but in a way that keeps them out of harm’s way as much as possible,” Reardon said.
The full, updated checklist is HERE.
NTEU represents 150,000 employees at 33 federal agencies and departments.