White House calls for federal agencies to maximize telework

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The White House urged federal workers to telework when possible Sunday night in the administration’s latest guidance aimed at stopping the spread of coronavirus.

A statement from the acting director of the Office of Management and Budget (OMB), Russell Vought, urged all federal agencies to provide the maximum possible opportunities for employees and contractors to work from home amid fears of the coronavirus outbreak, which has sickened thousands in the U.S.

“All Federal Executive Branch departments and agencies within the National Capital Region (NCR), consistent with OMB’s recent guidance (0MB M-20-13), are asked to offer
maximum telework flexibilities to all current telework eligible employees, consistent with operational needs of the departments and agencies as determined by their heads. In addition, we encourage agencies to use all existing authorities to offer telework to additional employees, to the extent their work could be telework enabled,” the directive instructed.

“If employees are not eligible for telework, agency heads have the discretion to offer weather and safety leave, or the agency’s equivalent, including for employees who may not have been considered ‘at higher risk,'” the agency’s statement continued.

The global coronavirus outbreak, which was declared a pandemic by the World Health Organization, has sickened more than 160,000 people and killed thousands. In the U.S., more than 3,400 have been infected and dozens have been killed.

Thousands of federal employees live in the Washington, D.C., area, where the directive is in effect.

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