October 4, 2022
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Youngkin administration behind deadline in reviewing telework requests | Govt-and-politics

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Gov. Glenn Youngkin is lagging his own deadline for reviewing requests by state employees to work remotely, as the administration scrambles to process teleworking applications a month before the new policy takes effect.

Chief of Staff Jeff Goettman, who must approve any request for an employee to telework more than two days a week under the new policy, said Friday that the administration wouldn’t complete its review by the deadline it had set for that day.

“While we continue working through the telework requests as expeditiously as possible, we are informing you we will not have all of them returned to agencies by the June 3 date as previously anticipated,” Goettman told the leaders of executive branch agencies covered by the new policy the administration announced on May 5.

“Every effort is being made to process the requests in a timely manner and anticipate completion of this step in the process by early next week,” he said in a memo copied to Cabinet secretaries, who are responsible under the new policy for approving any request to telework two days a week.

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Youngkin recently made clear publicly that he is not backing off his plan to put the new policy into effect on July 5, but an organization representing state employees plans to request a delay in implementation until Sept. 12, after the Labor Day holiday.

The Virginia Governmental Employees Association plans to formally request the delay in a meeting scheduled next week with Secretary of Administration Lyn McDermid, who is overseeing the process for the governor.

“We were a little concerned over the quick turnaround time,” VGEA lobbyist Dylan Bishop said on Friday.

The Youngkin administration has no count yet on how many telework applications eligible state employees have submitted under the policy, which applies to more than 65 executive branch agencies employing at least 55,000 of the state’s 122,000 workers. It does not apply to legislative or judicial employees, independent agencies or many employees at higher education institutions.

Under the governor’s new policy, agency heads can approve one day of telework a week for employees, but the applicable Cabinet secretary or the governor’s chief of staff must review requests for more. The administration has not estimated how many such requests it has received.

The Department of Human Resource Management does not know how many state employees have been working remotely since the COVID-19 pandemic began 27 months ago. A provision of the state budget lawmakers adopted this week would require the agency to submit a report on how many employees have been working remotely, as well as how many are requesting permission to telework under the new policy.

The two-year budget and revisions to this year’s spending plan are awaiting action by Youngkin, who will have seven days after receiving them to veto items or propose amendments.

The VGEA said last week that it had received “many calls and emails with concerns and frustrations about the new telework policy,” and asked its members about their experiences with it.

“We want to be able to share as many concerns as possible with the administration so that we can continue to ensure that they are aware of and working to resolve the specific and wide-ranging concerns and challenges of our state employees,” the association said in a statement emailed to members and posted on social media.

Bishop said the association has received “hundreds of responses,” which it plans to share with McDermid.

“We’re in the process of compiling and sorting it out right now,” he said.

mmartz@timesdispatch.com

(804) 649-6964



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