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Agencies Must Finalize Return-to-Office Plans by July 19

The Safer Federal Workforce Task Force outlined what the plans must include.

The Biden administration is asking agencies to submit by July 19 finalized plans for returning federal workers to their offices. 

The administration’s Safer Federal Workforce Task Force sent an email to the President’s Management Council and agency chiefs of staff on Tuesday with an update on the return to workplaces process.

“Agencies will need to have finalized their plans for both reentry and post-reentry procedures and policies by July 19,” said a task force email to agencies on Tuesday, sent in collaboration with the Office of Management and Budget, the Office of Personnel Management and the General Services Administration. “Agencies may submit earlier at their discretion.”

The plans should build off the draft versions that need to be submitted to OMB by June 18 and must include phased reentry schedules and other safety measures informed by current guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the task force, the Occupational Safety and Hazards Administration and any other relevant guidance, the email said. 

If agencies want to deviate from safety principles outlined in a January 24 guidance memo, they must first seek permission. 

The task force also said agencies must “satisfy applicable collective-bargaining obligations and provide ample notice to any employees who will be returning to the physical workplace, who will have altered work schedules, or who will otherwise have altered work circumstances, consistent with the agency’s intended post-reentry work environment.”

The email notes that many employees are balancing other responsibilities, such as child and elder care, so they may need extra time to work out the logistics for returning to workplaces.

“Guidance to agencies will be updated to support agencies and supervisors in implementing personnel policy and work environment flexibilities with staff,” the email said. 

Axios reported on Tuesday that White House offices will bring back all employees in person between July 6 and July 23, with some exceptions. 

“Each agency will develop its plan based on its own mission needs and workplace environment,” an OMB official told Government Executive. “The Executive Office of the President’s approach to planning and implementing a safe, increased return of its employees to the White House campus is consistent with the approach being followed by other federal agencies. Like other agencies, the Executive Office of the President is planning for a phased return of its employees.”