The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) is changing an 8-year-old policy and restricting the amount of days federal employees can telecommute for work, Politico reports.
The USDA is cutting a policy that let workers telecommute for any number of days they could get approved by a supervisor.
“Employees will be permitted to telework two days per pay period and must be at their duty station four days each week,” the USDA said in a statement to The Daily Caller News Foundation. “And, as was true under the old policy, supervisors must approve any telework agreement.”
The new policy exempts collective bargaining agreements where more telecommuting days are allowed.
Many employees in the department are upset over the change, some of whom chose to work for the agency specifically because of the flexible rules on in-office work. The USDA says the new policy will affect about one-fifth of its current workforce, according to Politico.
The new policy will overwhelmingly affect members of the U.S. Forest Service (USFS), who often have offices in rural and remote areas. Some USFS members must commute through areas that are vulnerable to bad weather, such as through mountains.
“When telework is used to address space availability restrictions, such as the use of hoteling or desk-sharing, supervisors may approve telework exceeding two days per pay period on a case-by-case basis,” the USDA told TheDCNF.
Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue announced the policy plan to the agency in a video.
“I want to be forthright with you. Some of these changes may be drastically different than the old way of doing things, and that’s okay,” Perdue said. “All of them point to our first strategic goal to ensure our programs are delivered efficiently, effectively and with integrity.”
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