As talks stalled in the Senate over a stimulus package for the COVID-19 coronavirus, House Democrats unveiled their own stimulus package (H.R. 6379) which they described as “a bold and comprehensive phase three coronavirus response bill that injects more than $2.5 trillion into the American economy.”
Provisions for Federal Employees
There are some aspects of the bill that will be of interest to federal workers. According to Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney (D-NY), Chairwoman of the Committee on Oversight and Reform, these are the key provisions that she said she has put into the bill:
Maximum Telework and Weather and Safety Leave
Agencies would be required to allow telework for all eligible federal employees during the coronavirus pandemic and allow federal employees the option of administrative leave if they cannot access their offices and telework is not possible.
The bill also would clarify that during the coronavirus pandemic, having a child or dependent at home does not disqualify a location as an acceptable work location.
Reimbursement to Federal Workers for Child and Family Care
Federal employees would receive up to $2,000 per child or dependent for each month they must leave work to care for children or sick family members at home.
Hazardous Duty Pay and Workers’ Compensation
Federal workers who provide direct care and emergency services to coronavirus patients would receive additional pay, and certain federal workers who contract the coronavirus while on duty would be eligible for workers’ compensation.
Because it mandates expanding telework for federal employees, the bill includes a great deal of additional spending to help ramp up telework capabilities at federal agencies.
Here are a few examples: the Social Security Administration would get $510 million to support the necessary telework and communication needs, the Office of Solicitor would get $650,000 for additional IT/teleworking equipment, and $3 billion is allocated to the Department of Veterans Affairs and related agencies to procure equipment, expand bandwidth, and other necessary supports to address increases in telework, telemedicine, call center volume, and overall demand for services.