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The State Department is asking passport services employees still out on weather and safety leave to self-certify whether they’re considered high-risk for COVID-19.
Nearly 700 employees at the Environmental Protection Agency said they have no confidence in their leadership's ability to keep them safe during the pandemic. They're asking to continue telework until an effective COVID-19 vaccine is available.
The Social Security Administration will indefinitely require members of the public to make appointments for in-person services that can't be done online or over the phone, the agency said in its new "resposturing plan." Telework will also continue for most employees.
New regulations from the Office of Personnel Management, effective Monday, detail how "essential" federal employees can hold on to the annual leave they'd otherwise have to forfeit at the end of the year because their service is needed during the coronavirus pandemic. The regulations apply to future national emergencies too.
Assistant Secretary of State for Consular Affairs Carl Risch said the department is looking at a “return to normal operations” at passport agencies within the next six-to-eight weeks and “a much more normal processing time” for incoming passport applications.
Employee unions say the Environmental Protection Agency has entered the next phase of its reopening plan without regard to its own metrics and criteria, which show rising coronavirus cases and positivity rates in the Washington, D.C. region. EPA down
Agency facilities in the national capitol region have moved to phase two of the State Department's "Diplomacy Strong” reopening strategy, which allows up to 80% of employees to return to the office.
The Energy Department said it was unlikely local conditions in the National Capital Region would support fully 'back to normal' return for its employees. The department instead said it will enter into new telework agreements with employees who need more flexibilities.
In preparation for "phase three" of its reopening plans, regional leaders at the Environmental Protection Agency are developing social distancing and "cohort" schedules for employees who work in cubicle farms or other shared spaces.
Field and local offices at the Social Security Administration are still closed to the public, with managers handling some in-person services on a case-by-case basis. Despite a series of cuts to its telework program before the pandemic, SSA hasn't yet recalled large numbers of employees back to their offices.
Maryland and Virginia senators are calling on the Trump administration to issue new guidance allowing federal employees to continue maximum telework. Existing guidance encourages agencies to end those flexibilities too soon, senators said.
DoD coronavirus cases have more than doubled in the last month.
As offices within all but two of the Environmental Protection Agency's regions are engaged in some phase of reopening, some employees said they're still waiting for clear answers on telework, child care accommodations and other concerns.
As the Agriculture Department approaches phase three of its reopening plan, Food and Nutrition Service employees are concerned there are simply too many unknowns, inconveniences and worries about returning to a full office, which they say pale in comparison to the benefits of working productively and safely from home.
A few months into the IRS bringing employees back into offices across the country in a phased approach, Commissioner Charles Rettig said agency facilities will return to “full staffing” by July 15, and will prioritize tax return refunds and customer service through its call centers.