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Questions and Answers - teleworking
Updated On: Mar 24, 2020

March 24, 2020 - News from our council meeting with Headquarters Labor Relations

From: Harris, Peter J. 
Date: Tue, Mar 24, 2020 at 5:41 PM
Subject: Questions and Answers--teleworking


Ralph and I had a discussion with Jim Julian earlier today, we discussed the following issues:

  1. Emergency Paid Sick Leave.  As part of the COVID-19 stimulus bill, the Senate approved 80 hours of paid sick leave for employees, subject to certain restrictions, read more about it here.

We wanted to know when this would available for the employees.  Jim said they had still not received guidance from OPM but should be receiving it anytime.  As soon as they get guidance they will let the Union know.

  1. Monitors:  The Union has received reports that some managers have not allowed employees to take their monitors home.  The Agency informed us that they are not opposed to employees taking their monitors home.  That the only reason some managers did not allow for it, is because they were just not informed, or not informed correctly.  The issue now is the logistics of providing the monitors to employees who want them.  The Agency is discussing the logistics of this now and will provide further information to AFGE in the next few days.  (I bought my own monitor—a refurbished 17inch—from Amazon for 10.00, I wanted my own monitors).

  1. Cell Phones/Internet/lack of Softphones:  Employees who do not want to use their cell phone until the Softphones arrive (this should be very soon-within 2 weeks) should ask their manager for calling cards.  Likewise, those employees without internet should ask for a hotspot.   Local management has been instructed to provide them on a case by case basis. 

  1. Logs:  Its been reported that at least 2 managers in the country are asking for employees to complete a log of what they do.  This is allowed under Article 41, Section 8 of the contract.   The impression we got from talking to Jim was that some managers have never worked in a telework environment and are undergoing growing pains and dealing with the seeming  loss of control.   The impression was that this practice would fade away when local management realizes that employees are still in fact doing work.   As always, I would handle this using your best judgement, it would probably be best to have a conversation with local management doing this, if you can, to try to talk them down.  If the list is overwhelming complex and beyond pale, a local section 9 grievance should be filed.

  1. Reasonable Accommodation:  Please remember that if a person has a reasonable accommodation, (chair, reader, etc. this transfers to their alternate duty station).

  1. Lunch and Break Schedules:   This is covered by the Contract, Article 10, Appendix A, Section 5: 

G. Lunch and Breaks 

  • To the extent feasible, management will continue existing lunch and break arrangements.  Employees will not normally be required to sign-in/sign-out for breaks.”

If management is forcing employees to somehow sign in and sign out for breaks and lunches, a section 9 grievance should be filed.

Obviously,  going from an Agency that had zero telework to an Agency that is 100% telework is going to present some growing pains.  We will continue to discuss and try to work out issues where we can, and we will pursue litigation where we must.  WE ARE pursuing litigation as a Council and as the General Committee with several others issues on which grievance presentations have are pending or have been made and arbitration pending.

We will continue to have weekly calls with SSA to make sure all our issues are addressed. 

We should all be very proud we were able to make telework for all a reality!  Not only is this what the overwhelming majority of employees have wanted for a very long time, this has also saved lives as employees are no longer in harm’s way.


Pete Harris

National Council of Social Security Administration Field Operations
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