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Ssa Telework Agreement

Even some SSA offices may not be prepared for the loss of telecommuting, as the space available in these offices is suitable for a small number of employees, with the hope that some will telework. But beyond the growing concerns of coronaviruses, the new telework policies themselves have drawn criticism from workers and one of their unions. « The agency is making changes to telework because the public service is the priority, » Mark Hinkle, a spokesman for the SSA, said in an email. « Each Assistant Commissioner was responsible for determining which staff positions were eligible for telework and how many days of authorized telework were allowed. » And while staff insisted that the work they do from telework sites is substantially similar to what they would do in the office, Hinkle said in a statement that the telework elimination plan was aimed at increasing the agency`s responsiveness and customer service: negotiations on a new contract between the National Treasury Employees Union and SSA began in February 2018 and while the agency and the union were in able to agree on most of the contract articles, they disagreed on the management of telework at the Agency. SSA Commissioner Andrew Saul cited the Challenges of Agency Customer Service as the main reason for his decision, but employees said they did not have enough time to make arrangements to adjust to life without telework. SSA finally extended the end date of the operating telework program by three weeks. Cardin and Sen. Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.) were both members of Congress who last fall asked the SSA to reconsider its plan to eliminate telework for the Agency`s operating staff. The decision to discontinue telework in the SSAs is followed by a trend by federal authorities, which is insinuating a policy contrary to the OPM Council on work life programs, which describes telework as « an important tool to reach resilient and results-oriented staff. » The change in the telework policy was introduced as part of the new collective agreement between SSA and AFGE from 27 October; However, according to Jackson, the agreement provides for the availability of telework and requires that the union be terminated and be able to consult with agency officials on the decision. At least two members of Congress expressed similar concerns about the SSA telework policy. Richard Neal (D-Mass.), chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee, and Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), the highest member of the Senate Finance Committee, called on Saul to reverse recent decisions to abolish or reduce telework options. Future telework changes are less clear for employees of SSA, whose six-year telework program was cancelled last fall. « The vast majority of the 2,100 SSA Office of Hearing Operations employees we represent will continue to have access to their regular telework plan three to four days a week, as planned under a recently concluded six-year collective agreement, » said Tony Reardon, NTEU National President, in a statement to the Federal News Network.

The Telework Metrics and Cost Savings Act would prohibit agencies from reducing the program on a flat-rate basis. The bill introduced by the Reps. John Sarbanes (D-Md.) and Gerry Connolly and Jennifer Wexton (D-Va) would also establish clear performance metrics for telework agencies. Deepak Gupta, the lead counsel representing AALJ, said he hoped the vote on the May 4 collective agreement would be suspended, but Judge Amy Berman Jackson said any suspension of the vote would not go to court, but could be negotiated between the parties. « In field offices and workload support units and even in telephone service centres, most questions are answered by telephone.