The Environmental Protection Agency has signed a memorandum of understanding with a U.S. labor union for the phased return of agency employees to a hybrid physical and remote work environment, Federal News Network reported Monday.
Under the agreement, EPA personnel must report physically for a day during the first pay period of May, with one day added in successive periods, but could request for telework and other flexible arrangements.
Members of the American Federation of Government Employees not performing mission-critical or facilities-related work could arrange a telework or remote work schedule with their supervisors based on personal circumstances or local COVID-19 situations.
According to Joyce Howell, AFGE’s chief negotiator, the memorandum shows that most of the work at EPA does not require employees to be physically present and could be performed remotely.
“If people have fully portable work that does not require them to come into the office on a routine basis, then there doesn’t seem to be a justification for increasing their carbon footprint by commuting into the office and occupying an office space when they don’t have to,” explained Howell to Federal News Network.
With the return of employees coming soon, the EPA stated that it would continue following COVID-related guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the White House.