HARTFORD, CT) – The Lamont administration and leadership of the State Employees Bargaining Agent Coalition (SEBAC), which represents several Connecticut state employees unions, have reached an agreement resolving disputes related to telework and its role in transitioning state employees back into the workplace following the initial outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic.
When the pandemic first emerged in the United States in early 2020, Governor Ned Lamont acted quickly and directed all executive branch state employees who were able to telework to do so. This revised agreement settles some concerns regarding the transition back to the workplace and the role that telework will have in the work of state employees moving forward. The governor maintains discretion to return to higher levels of telework consistent with his emergency powers as set forth in legislation approved by the Connecticut General Assembly.
Highlights of the major provisions included in the revised agreement include:
- For 60 days following the execution of the revised agreement (the reset period) employees who were teleworking prior to Governor Ned Lamont’s May 13 email have the choice of returning to their pre-July 1 schedule (i.e. the one that was in effect during the approximate period of March 2020 through July 1, 2021), or they can continue with whatever is in place today.
- The 60-day period is August 3, 2021 to October 2, 2021.
- This choice to return to the pre-July 1 schedule does not apply to hazardous duty employees, or “those whose consistent presence at the work site or in the field is now required because of the reopening of in-person operations which were suspended during the pre-July 1, 2021, period.”
- If operations have reopened at an employee’s worksite or in the field and those operations can’t be performed by teleworking at a 50% schedule, the employee will only be approved for the amount of telework, if any, that can be performed from the employee’s home.
- Following the 60-day period through December 31, 2021, eligible employees (covered under the “reset period”) will be eligible to apply to telework at as high a percentage of their scheduled hours as they believe is consistent with operational needs and job duties. These applications will be submitted during the reset period so that there will be time for review prior to the expiration of the 60 days.
- A request of 50% of scheduled work hours or less by these employees will be granted. Requests above the 50% cap may be approved “if, in the opinion of the agency head, following review of such request and the input of the employee’s supervisors or managers, job duties and operational needs support such action.”
- Management’s decisions regarding telework greater than 50% during the post-reset period are not subject to challenge.
- COVID-fragile employees (due to their own or a family member’s serious medical condition) may telework up to 100% of the scheduled hours through December 31, 2021.
- The revised agreement incorporates a structure for negotiation, and if necessary, arbitration of a final agreement which we expect to be effective by December 31, 2021. The parties have agreed to immediate implementation of that new agreement or award.
- If a particular provision requires a legislative appropriation and approval, it could not be implemented before mid-March of 2022.
- Unless the parties reach an agreement, the issue of “what, if any, cap shall be imposed on the number of days or percentage of the scheduled work hours, during the biweekly pay period, an eligible employee may telework” is one that will be arbitrated this fall.
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