RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — Gov. Glenn Youngkin’s administration won’t reach its goal of processing all applications from state employees who want to continue working from home by Friday as workers are expected to return to their offices next month.
Several state government employees have been permitted to work remotely since 2020, but Gov. Youngkin announced he was imposing a new policy that would bring them back to the office full-time starting July 5.
Gov. Youngkin’s administration set a May 20 deadline for employees to submit telework applications, but with a different approval process depending the length of the request. The state aimed to finish reviewing them all by June 3.
But Youngkin’s chief of staff, Jeff Goettman, informed all executive branch agency heads, executive HR directors and cabinet secretaries and their deputies that the administration won’t be able to meet its planned deadline.
“While we continue working through the telework requests as expeditiously as possible, we are informing you we will not have all of them returned to agencies by the June 3 date as previously anticipated,” he wrote in a June 3 email obtained by 8News reporter Jackie DeFusco. “Every effort is being made to process the requests in a timely manner and anticipate completion of this step in the process by early next week.”
A member of Youngkin’s office told DeFusco that the June 5 deadline regarding workers’ return to work remains in place and that many of those who submitted requests early have likely received a response from the state.
But some state agencies received an overwhelming amount of applications and some workers submitted applications late, 8News was told.
According to the policy, new telework agreements will be approved by either the agency head, cabinet secretary or Goettman depending on how long the employee is requesting to work from home. The approval process is as follows:
Approval from the agency head:
▪ Where one day a week is requested as a telework day;
▪ Temporary telework, no more than two weeks, for temporary circumstances such as family illness, school closing, weather advisories, etc.
Approval from the Cabinet Secretary:
▪ Where two days a week are requested as telework days
Approval from the governor’s Chief of Staff:
▪ Where more than two days a week are requested as telework days.
In May, eight Democratic Virginia lawmakers called on the governor to reverse the state’s new telework policy, urging him to allow state agency heads to work with their employees on the return to their pre-pandemic work schedules after the Labor Day holiday and create an interagency work group to examine the current policy and share recommended changes.
The Virginia Governmental Employees Association (VGEA), which represents state workers, said last month that it would ask Youngkin to delay the implementation of the policy until Sept. 12.
“This extension would give employees the extra time they need to make arrangements to return to work including securing childcare as needed,” VGEA wrote in a message to its members and leaders on May 25.
8News reporter Jackie DeFusco contributed to this story.