Despite workers` concerns, the Ministry of Agriculture yesterday introduced changes to its telework policy. Agriculture Minister Sonny Perdue has updated the telework policy to limit the number of days an employee can work outside the office and can work one day a week from the non-limited policy time to one day per week. “If the telework privilege is not used properly by some, their immediate superiors should address the problem, just as they address any other underperformance problem. Superiors are in the best position to know whether an employee is doing his or her job or not. If management wants employees to have more time in person for events or meetings, they may require all employees to be in the office on certain days. Staff advised Perdue that if there were problems with telework, it was appropriate to deal on a case-by-case basis or within each area of the program. “Many of us started telecommuting more than 15 years ago, when the program was first proposed. Telework has since expanded, and the ability to regain some of our lives has created an incredible amount of goodwill and loyalty. There was nothing that many of us weren`t going to do for this agency – we worked over the weekend, and after scheduled hours, we took our work on vacation – as a sign of gratitude for the USDA`s efforts to promote work-life balance,” the letter says. An agriculture spokesman said in an email to the Federal Intelligence Service: “In some areas of the mission and agencies, the volume of telework was so high that managers had time, no more than 30 days, to bring all employees into compliance with the new directive. In addition, the conditions created by the stop may also merit extra time. Federal News Radio received a copy of a letter allegedly sent by a USDA employee and asked him to reconsider changes to the telework program. Several requests to the USDA press service, which requested confirmation of the letter or, at the very least, confirmation that Perdue received similar letters, were not responded to.
UsDA is asking employees to update their telework contracts by February 12. Overall, the main idea of this agreement is to respond to the department`s desire to increase the presence of staff in our offices, taking into account the work-life balance of our employees. I know this is a big change, especially for some of our rather remote employees. That is why we have worked with the union to find a reasonable balance between these two interests, which are sometimes contradictory. Further information will be provided during the implementation of the revised telework program.