Most state employees in Virginia will have to abandon working from their couches and reacclimate to full-time office life by July 5 under a new policy announced Thursday by Gov. Glenn Youngkin.
The policy rolls back telework, which became widespread at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. But it does makes exceptions in some cases involving matters such as health concerns.
“We know that creative, innovative and effective solutions for all Virginians occur with regular, in-person interaction by our incredible workforce here in the commonwealth,” Youngkin said in a news release.
It’s the first update to the state’s telework policy in more than a decade and is consistent with pre-pandemic polices and Department of Labor Industry guidelines, according to the governor.
Youngkin said the move comes after monitoring the pandemic and listening to Virginians and heads of government. He said it reflects a new path focusing on “innovation and teamwork.”
“Since day one, my commitment to have a best-in-class government serving all Virginians has been clear, these updates balance the demands of government services with the needs of our public servants,” Youngkin said.
Youngkin’s move is delayed when compared to other nearby jurisdictions. Under similar policies that limited remote-work, D.C. government employees returned to the workplace on June 7 and Maryland state employees went back to the office July 1.
State employees who want to work from home will need to apply by May 20. Their requests will be processed by June 3.
The policy says employees whose job can be done remotely can apply to work from home for “appropriate” reasons.
The frequency that an employee wants to work from home determines which supervisor has to approve their application.
- Once a week or temporary telework for reasons including family illness, a school closing or poor weather requires an agency head approve.
- Twice a week requires a cabinet secretary approve.
- Three or more days a week requires a chief of staff approve.
The approval lasts a year, and after that, the agreements are reprocessed annually.
Another potential exception to the rule is offering remote work to employees whose jobs can be done for home when there is an emergency closing.
Youngkin is encouraging Virginia state employees to come back to work sooner than required.