EPA strikes agreement with AFGE over reentry to office for staff

The Environmental Protection Agency building is shown August 30, 2006 in Washington DC. (Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images)

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The Environmental Protection Agency has reached an agreement with the American Federation of Government Employees union over the return of personnel to the office.

The agency and the union on Monday signed a memorandum of understanding, according to which no AFGE bargaining unit will be required to physically return to the office until May 2.

“The workforce of the future will rely heavily on technology to facilitate effective communication and collaboration for individuals who may not be occupying the same physical workspace, and so the Agency will continue to leverage technology to support a hybrid workplace,” the memorandum said. 

According to the document, employees who have been teleworking full time as a result of the pandemic will have until the pay period April 24 to request a permanent change to their job status. Employees will not be required to request a work status change until the pay period April 24.

The agreement clarifies also that employees at the agency have the right to request telework, situational telework or other flexibility based on their personal situations and/or COVID-19 levels.

In addition, visitors to EPA buildings will be required to show proof of vaccination, and coronavirus testing will be made available to staff.

In the memorandum, both sides agree also to a schedule of CO2 testing at EPA buildings, designed to ensure that spaces are sufficiently ventilated to lower the risk of disease transmission between staff.

Details of the memorandum come as federal government departments make decisions on the future of in-person work.

In December, the Environmental Protection Agency struck an agreement with its federal staff union so that employees within each bargaining unit will be required to come into the office just twice over the course of each pay period.

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American Federation of Government Employees (AFGE), COVID-19, Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), telework
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