Agencies urged to make telework available to most employees during coronavirus spread

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The Office of Management and Budget has asked agencies in the Washington, D.C., area to make telework available to as many employees as possible with coronavirus spreading throughout the region.

In a memo on Sunday, agencies were encouraged to “offer maximum telework flexibilities to all current telework eligible employees” and “use all existing authorities to offer telework to additional employees, to the extent their work could be telework enabled.”

The Office of Personnel Management on Sunday night also changed the operating status for offices in the D.C. area to “yellow,” meaning they are open with maximum telework flexibilities for eligible employees.

As for the telework-ineligible, the memo recommends agency heads offer weather and safety leave or the equivalent, particularly to employees at higher risk of serious complications from COVID-19, the disease caused by the virus.

“[T]he Administration wants to ensure that department and agency leaders assertively safeguard the health and safety of their workforce while remaining open to serve the American people and conduct mission critical functions,” reads the document.

To that end, OMB wants agency heads to develop operational plans making use of staggered work schedules and other measures to maximize resources while a large number of federal employees telework.

Concerns about the spread of the virus continue to intensify. New Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidance issued earlier Sunday recommended that organizers cancel or postpone in-person events of 50 people or more for the next eight weeks across the U.S.

Increases in telework will add pressures on IT departments across the U.S. economy. The Department of Homeland Security’s cybersecurity arm issued an alert on Friday about the increased vulnerability of networks as more organizations tell workers to stay home.

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Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Office of Management and Budget (OMB), telework, workforce
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