Rise in COVID-19 Cases and Return to Work

NTEU raised employees’ concerns about the rise of COVID transmission rates and the plans to return employees to the office. NTEU asked whether the IRS was considering pushing back the June 25, RTO for Phase II or continuing maximum telework per the parties’ MOU beyond that date. The IRS indicated there are currently no discussions underway to push the June 25 RTO date back or to extend the maximum telework policy beyond June 25. It pointed out that 90 percent of the IRS workforce is “fully vaccinated” per CDC guidelines and the agency plans to continue with existing safety protocols.

We also raised concerns about the lack of space to properly socially distance in some areas. The IRS said that the current CDC guidelines only require that employees who are not vaccinated to be socially distanced from others. The IRS also stated that it has been working with Treasury to waive the two-day reporting per pay period for employees who are either high risk themselves or live with a family member who is high risk. The agency indicated that it will begin processing requests for temporary hardships for such employees, based on a “temporary hardship exception process.” In that regard, we recently began bargaining over conditions for employees beyond the June 25 RTO date, which will include additional flexibilities, and returning employees to the field.