Vaccine Mandate – The IRS advised NTEU that as of Jan. 17, 2022, 97 percent of IRS employees are in compliance with the vaccine mandate. On Jauary 21, 2022, as a result of the nationwide injunction issued by a federal court, federal agencies paused all actions enforcing the vaccination requirement, including the processing of reasonable accommodation requests, pending further actions by the courts in the ongoing litigation.
Testing Strategy – The IRS reports that it is working on establishing a testing program. It is in the preliminary phase. They expect to have a testing strategy in place by February 15, 2022 and will brief NTEU about it once the plan is developed. The agency does not anticipate having the testing ready to go by February 15, 2022.
New Hires – We again raised with the IRS concerns about the onboarding of new hires and whether maximum telework was being offered to new hires. The IRS said that in most cases, employees with portable work are being required to report for one to two days in their post of duty to set up their equipment and perform orientation and onboarding activities before they are approved for telework. NTEU reminded the IRS that when new hires are required to report in person to their POD for orientation, face-to-face orientations should be conducted in lieu of the virtual orientation. NTEU also raised concerns that the new hire data is incomplete and provided an example of new hires excluded from the lists. The IRS has agreed to meet with NTEU separately on this topic to address these concerns.
Cleaning Concerns – We shared with the IRS and FMSS concerns that cleaning of a work area is not being done timely where an employee has tested positive for COVID-19. From our discussions, it appears that there are delays in the reporting of the positive COVID-19 results into the SAMC system. To improve the reporting and cleaning response time, we asked the IRS to provide us with information as to how employees may report positive COVID test results directly into the SAMC system to help reduce the delays. Below is the information the IRS shared with us:
Incident Reporting Form (SAMC website portal) at:
b. telephone at 202-317-6124
c. toll free hotline at 1-866-216-4809
d. fax at 202-317-6129
e. e-mail email@example.com
Medical Documentation – NTEU shared with the IRS examples of managers requesting medical documentation after an employee reports that they have tested positive for COVID-19 using a home test kit. The IRS indicated that it has now advised managers that they should accept home test results and not require further medical documentation, in situations where such documentation is required. An additional question was raised about what documentation is necessary to approve advanced sick leave if the employee requests advanced sick leave after testing positive for COVID-19. HCO said it would need to research this further and will provide further guidance.
Telework Agreements – We asked the IRS why some employees are reporting that managers are not processing their requests for frequent or other types of telework, in anticipation that the evacuation order will be lifted at some point. The IRS states that managers should be accepting and making determinations on telework requests as they come in; and there has not been any communication to managers indicating that such requests be held in abeyance during the evacuation order. If any chapters are aware that employees’ telework requests have not been acted on, let Ken Moffett know so we can address it.
Workers Compensation – As a reminder, employees who believe they have contracted COVID-19 in the workplace may file a claim for workers compensation. Phase 1 – Return to the Workplace- We shared with the IRS that managers have started to communicate different dates as to when the evacuation orders will be lifted, and employees will be required to return to the workplace from telework. The IRS confirmed that a firm date has not been established. Negotiations between the IRS and NTEU continue on this topic.