FAA and US DOT urge government teleworkers to boost in-person work

By David Shepardson

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The Federal Aviation Administration and the U.S. Department of Transportation said on Thursday they expected government employees working from home to boost in-person work, as part of the Biden administration’s return-to-office efforts.

The FAA said it expects agency employees who regularly telecommute to be in the office at least three days a week. The FAA said in an email seen by Reuters that it expects employees working remotely beginning Oct. 9 to increase their presence in the office to at least three days a week.

Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg separately told department employees in a video “we need to be closer to each other in person than we are now to ensure the long-term success of this department.”

The department said in an email to employees that it expects telecommuting employees to report in person to their official place of work at least three days every two weeks beginning Sept. 10 and at least four days per pay period beginning Dec. 3.

“We understand that this will be a big transition for some, and there will definitely be an adjustment period. We are committed to providing as much support as possible to employees as you navigate this change,” USDOT said in an email to employees.

In April, the White House Office of Management and Budget in a memo first reported by Reuters called on federal agencies to revise workforce plans as it aims to “significantly increase meaningful in-person work in federal offices.”

President Joe Biden ended the three-year COVID-19 emergency in May. Many of the 2 million civilian federal employees began working remotely in March 2020, but about half had to remain in person throughout the pandemic.

Republican lawmakers have pressed federal agencies to demand that more officials return to their offices.

Many of these offices are in the Washington, DC area.

In February, the House of Representatives passed legislation to require federal agencies to reinstate pre-pandemic 2019 telecommuting policies and require telecommuting extensions to be certified by the Office of Personnel Management as having a positive effect on an agency’s mission and costs.

(Reporting by David Shepardson; Editing by Chris Reese and Stephen Coates)

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