Washington D.C. – Federal employees who have been teleworking since March would continue to work from home throughout the pandemic and agencies would be encouraged to expand telework to more employees under legislation that passed the House late Thursday.
The telework provisions are part of the condensed version of the HEROES Act, which originally passed the House in May. House Democrats trimmed the bill in the hopes of reaching a compromise with Senate Republicans and the White House on a coronavirus relief package.
“We are pleased that our allies in Congress continue to look out for the needs of federal employees during the global health crisis,” said NTEU National President Tony Reardon. “Across the country, federal employees have stayed on the job throughout the pandemic and the HEROES Act would provide them with some much-needed assistance at work.”
The smaller bill, which awaits action in the Senate, still includes several measures backed by NTEU, such as:
- Allowing federal first responders, including CBP Officers, to stay in their current law enforcement retirement plans even if they are unable to meet the physical requirements of their position due to exposure to coronavirus and are moved to other civil service jobs;
- A presumption that federal employees who work with the public and are diagnosed with COVID-19 contracted it in the workplace, for workers’ compensation purposes;
- Eliminating out-of-pocket costs for COVID-19 treatment under the Federal Employee Health Benefit Program;
- Extending the emergency leave provisions in the Families First Coronavirus Relief Act to all federal employees.
It also includes $350 million to the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service to ensure continued inspections by Agriculture Specialists at Customs and Border Protection. And there is $359 million for the IRS to process another round of economic impact payments and expand employee safety protocols.
The bill no longer includes premium pay for certain federal workers who have routine contact with the public, but NTEU will continue to fight for that provision, which would apply to CBP employees stationed at the nation’s ports and other frontline employees.
NTEU represents about 150,000 employees at 33 federal agencies and departments.