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State issues guidance to agencies about returning to work, telecommuting

On June 18, the Governor’s Office of Employee Relations (GOER) released two documents. The first, “Revised Guidance for State Agencies/Authorities on Return to Work,” provides instructions on what state employees must do as they return to their worksites. The second, “Memorandum to State Agencies/Authorities on In-Person Presence and Telecommuting,” summarizes the state’s plan for what will happen when the emergency telecommuting agreement expires at the close of business on July 2, 2021. Here are the key points you should be aware of in each document.

Revised Guidance for State Agencies/Authorities on Return to Work

• Employees must sign the guidance document and affirm that they have read it, understand it, and will adhere to its provisions.
• Proof of vaccination status will not be required.
• No social distancing is required for vaccinated individuals.
• Unvaccinated individuals need to maintain six feet of social distancing or, in lieu of that, physical barriers may be utilized.
• Unvaccinated/unknown vaccination status individuals must wear a mask in accordance with CDC guidelines and may remove the mask indoors while socially distanced, seated, eating/drinking or while at their work station.
• Several provisions are included for hand hygiene, cleaning and disinfection, communication, ventilation and air filtration, and health screening.

Memorandum to State Agencies/Authorities on In-Person Presence and Telecommuting

• Agencies must plan for a return to normal operations by no later than September 7, 2021.
• Agencies will inform employees that the Statewide Telecommuting Program will expire on July 2, 2021.
• After July 2, agencies may resume their own pre-COVID telecommuting programs or may adopt the Statewide Telecommuting Program while they develop their own specific programs.  Agency programs must be reviewed by GOER no later than July 31, 2021.
• July 2 through September 7, agencies must work toward returning employees to in-person work at an increased frequency.
• September 7 through the end of year, agencies will return to pre-pandemic, in-person presence with limited exceptions consistent with their GOER-reviewed telecommuting program.  Agencies shall maintain regular contact with union representatives, to among other things, evaluate and address concerns that are raised.