The Social Security Administration (SSA) recently announced that its employees will likely be expected to return to their traditional worksites or offices in January.
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The pertinent administration memorandum stated that senior leadership has already begun its re-entry into the office and added that on “January 3, 2022, we plan to begin the safe return of employees onsite, with ample notice, in compliance with SSA’s WSP [workplace safety plan], and in consideration of the lessons learned during the pandemic.” Although that day will mark the end of the agency’s maximum telework model — one that it has held since March 2020 — employees will have increased access to telework as compared to before the pandemic began, per the memo.
The Social Security Administration’s agency-wide evacuation order will also expire on January 2, 2022, effectively signaling the potential to return to in-office duties. The administration also stated that any employee who teleworked during the pandemic — between March 16, 2020 through January 2, 2022 — will be eligible for, at minimum, episodic telework if the employee meets the eligibility criteria.
Headquarters staff will be allowed to work from home up to five days per week, per Government Executive, and most employees in the Office of Hearings Operations will be restricted to between three and four days of telework per week. Meanwhile, field officers will only be able to work from home twice a week.
The protocol also includes provisions to reduce the number of in-office employees should another COVID-19 spike occur in a relevant region. The agency said that it will monitor the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s protocols each week for appropriate actions pertaining to community transmission and risk.
The SSA has a plan similar to the IRS should cases spike, one wherein threatened offices would shut down normal operations and function by appointment only.
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