Federal employees who have been teleworking due to the COVID-19 pandemic would find themselves back in their agency offices if recently introduced legislation were to become law.
Congressman Andy Biggs (R-AZ) has introduced the Return to Work Act (H.R. 6703) which would require federal agencies to reinstate their telework policies used before the COVID-19 pandemic. The federal government’s telework policies would be reverted back to the ones that were in place on December 31, 2019.
“The majority of Americans have returned to work. There’s no excuse for federal agencies to continue a strict telework schedule for their employees,” said Biggs.
He added, “By not coming to the office, federal agencies have created a backlog of service requests. This backlog has prevented many Americans, especially our veterans, from receiving the service and care they need. Americans are deservedly frustrated that they are not receiving the services that are owed to them. It’s well overdue for our federal workers to join the rest of the workforce and return to the office.”
Biggs is just one of a growing number of lawmakers who have been calling for federal employees to return to office work en masse because of the languishing quality of services that they have heard about from their constituents.
Last April, for instance, Senator Josh Hawley (R-MO) said that his constituents were continually facing unresponsive agencies in trying to obtain services, specifically from the National Personnel Records Center and Social Security Administration.
More recently, Congressman Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) sent a letter to the directors of the Office of Personnel Management and the Office of Management and Budget in which he asked why so many federal employees were continuing to telework given the high compliance rates with federal employee vaccine mandate reported by the White House.
“…as Americans continue to struggle to access the in-person services and benefits
they are entitled to, the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) remains focused on ‘telework’ as a solution to the very problems that it has created for many Americans…,” wrote McCarthy in his letter.
As evidence, he cited the massive backlog of veterans benefits claims at the Department of Veterans Affairs that are still waiting to be reviewed by the agency.
Despite the growing number of calls from lawmakers demanding that federal employees return to in-office work in greater numbers, FedSmith readers have repeatedly said that they are quite content working at home and continue to not believe they would be safe working in an office environment. 74% of respondents said in our latest survey on COVID and telework that they still do not think it is time for federal employees to return to work in their agency offices.