Written by John Hewitt Jones
The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission has suspended plans to return staff to the office and agreed to negotiate with a federal union on future changes to the telework policy.
In a statement on Monday, the department said it had made the decision to halt plans to return to the office in light of new data from COVID-19 omicron variants and said it would give employees advance notice. at least 30 days before any scheduled re-entry.
“The EEOC COVID-19 coordination team is closely monitoring the conditions of the pandemic and is currently in the process of drafting a reintegration plan and, once authorized by the President of the EEOC, will present it to the union for review and comment, ”the agency said. “The union will be given every opportunity to negotiate the impact and implementation of the initial reintegration plan. “
The clarification comes after the American Federation of Government Employees (AFGE) filed two unfair labor practices complaints against the department in which it argued the agency refused to negotiate in good faith on proposed changes to telecommuting.
The EEOC is one of several federal agencies that decide how to handle return-to-office staffing and changes to technological systems needed to increase employee flexibility.
In December, the Environmental Protection Agency reached an agreement with its federal staff union so that employees in each bargaining unit would only be required to come to the office twice during each pay period.
Commenting on the EEOC’s decision to put its re-entry plans on hold, Rachel Shonfield, Chair of AFGE Council 216, said: “We are very pleased that employees can continue to work safely from home at this time, especially considering the transmissibility of the omicron variant. “
“The union recommends that the EEOC use the postponement to reset management’s position on bargaining obligations. For there to be good faith negotiations, there cannot be lines in the sand for dates, phases and telecommuting, ”added Shonfield.