Some Agencies Reluctant to Offer Telework Amid D.C. Metro Disruption

More than dual weeks into a Washington Metropolitan Area Transportation Authority’s three-month prolonged closure of 6 Metrorail stations to refurbish outdoor platforms, sovereign agencies in a D.C. area have taken varying stairs to offer telework and other workplace flexibilities for influenced employees.

Between Memorial Day and Sept. 8, WMATA has close down all Blue and Yellow line stations south of National Airport. The closures paint a initial proviso in a three-year devise to reconstruct 20 outside Metrorail stations.

Last month, a Office of Personnel Management released guidance to agencies enlivening officials to concede influenced employees to temporarily enhance their use of telework, choice work schedules and other flexibilities.

But some agencies, where employees have seen their ability to telework drastically reduced over a final year, have possibly clearly abandoned a memo or implemented it in ways that continue to daunt operative remotely.

National Treasury Employees Union National President Tony Reardon told Government Executive that a Health and Human Services Department has not released any grave superintendence to employees during a domicile in Washington, D.C. And one office—the Office of a Assistant Secretary for Health—actually implemented a cut in accessible telework for employees, as mandated by a Federal Service Impasses Panel, a same week that a hire closures began.

“The Office of a Assistant Secretary for Health told NTEU that effective in a compensate duration commencement May 26, employees would be singular to one day of telework per week, regardless of their prior telework agreements,” Reardon said. “The preference by OASH leaders to pursue a many singular telework process probable is both bootleg and unfortunate, generally for a workforce that has demonstrated that telework is an effective apparatus to urge capability and partisan and keep learned employees.”

NTEU contended that efforts to exercise a supplies of a impasses row preference are not legal, since several supplies of a kinship and agency’s collective negotiate agreement sojourn underneath negotiation. An HHS orator pronounced in a matter that nonetheless a dialect has not released a grave process change in light of a OPM superintendence on coherence during Metro hire closures, supervisors have been empowered to offer flexibilities to their employees as needed.

“HHS is complying with a U.S. Office of Personnel Management’s ask to concede influenced employees to implement several workplace flexibilities via a arriving Platform Improvement Project,” a orator said. “There is not an agency-wide proposal; however, supervisors are implementing workplace flexibilities suitable to assembly their specific goal needs.”

The Agriculture Department, that final year also singular all telework agreements to one day per week, has taken several stairs to yield employees coherence over a summer. But stretched telework is not among them. 

According to an inner Agriculture memo performed by Government Executive, USDA managers are speedy to concede employees to use choice work schedules—either entrance in and withdrawal early to equivocate traffic, or condensing their work week into fewer days—and to sanction leave for employees.

“Managers are obliged for operative with employees to settle or cgange work schedules, and to adjust leave skeleton in suitability with [an] particular agency’s policies and procedures, if needed, to perform their responsibilities,” a memo stated. “Managers are speedy to be stretchable in deliberation adjustments to work schedules as good as a use of leave to residence travelling disruptions.”

Despite a extended embodiment with many workplace flexibilities, a memo remained firm on troublesome employees from operative remotely some-more than one day per week.

“Because a Metro height alleviation plan is temporary, changes to core telework agreements are not anticipated,” a memo stated. “USDA’s telework gauge stays in outcome and no changes to USDA’s telework process are being made. USDA’s telework gauge envisions situations where situational telework might be required, though these should be rare.”

The Agriculture Department did not respond to mixed requests for comment.

Over during a Education Department, a orator for a American Federation of Government Employees, that represents employees there, pronounced care has not responded to a direct to discount over a doing of a OPM guidance. But an Education orator pronounced a dialect is regulating existent management vested in managers to sanction “episodic” telework requests by a roughly 200 workers impacted by a hire closures.

“The stream process already provides managers with a coherence to approve episodic requests on singular occasions, so there is no need to yield any additional process exceptions,” a orator said.

Union officials reported that other agencies have been some-more than peaceful to accommodate employees during a Metro closures.

“We are gratified to see a Nuclear Regulatory Commission take active stairs to assistance employees adjust their schedules to accommodate a disrupted commute,” Reardon said. “NRC leaders, following superintendence from OPM, are enlivening employees to ask new scheduling flexibilities, including an increasing volume of telework, and they are enlivening supervisors to extend those requests.”

NTEU has also reached an agreement with a U.S. Patent and Trademark Office to enhance telework temporarily for employees influenced by a hire closures.

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