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ABC’s Virginia telecommuting plan strays from Youngkin’s mandate

ABC will allow two days of telecommuting per week for headquarters workers

Posted

May 12, 2022




by

kate andrews


Virginia ABC Headquarters Courtesy of Virginia Alcoholic Beverage Control Authority

Employees at the Mechanicsville headquarters of the Virginia Alcohol Beverage Control Authority will return to work in person three days a week, not the four or five days a week that will be required of many state workers starting July 5, at following Governor Glenn Youngkin’s telecommuting order. earlier this month.

Virginia ABC CEO Travis Hill emailed ABC employees on Thursday, noting that the plan to work in person at the authority’s new Hanover County office three days a week, with two days working remotely, is “the final part of our return-to-office strategy”. , originally announced in August 2021 and reaffirmed last December. This approach was based on employee survey feedback and our long-term operational needs and complements a six-month return-to-office effort.

Hill, who was appointed by former Governor Ralph Northam to lead the ABC in 2018, notes that as an authority instead of a state agency, the ABC has “greater latitude in the how we manage our telecommuting and hybrid working status”. The memo also says the authority will use a new telecommuting agreement form distributed by Youngkin’s office and that all applications will be due June 15.

“All employees who choose to work part of the week remotely will be required to complete the agreement and submit it to Human Resources,” Hill wrote.

Currently, most of ABC’s approximately 500 administrative staff work two days a week in the office and three days remotely. The authority employs about 5,000 part-time and full-time employees, some of whom cannot telecommute due to the nature of their jobs, such as staffing ABC retail stores. In January, the authority changed its daily opening hours to noon in part because retail workers were affected by COVID-19, which created a staff shortage. In fiscal 2021, Virginia ABC achieved record gross revenue of $1.4 billion, including $237.3 million in profit from retail sales.

Youngkin’s mandate requires state employees who have been working from home since March 2020 to return to the office in person beginning July 5, and it renders all prior telecommuting agreements null and void, even for employees who live outside of their immediate work area and were hired knowing they could work remotely. Agency heads can approve one telework day per week, while a cabinet secretary must approve two days per week. All of the above will require the approval of Youngkin’s chief of staff, Jeff Goettman.

In a memo released May 5, during Virginia Public Service Week, Goettman announced the order and said the goal of the governor’s office is “the completion of all telecommuting agreements by June 3.”

Some state employees and Democratic lawmakers have denounced Youngkin’s telecommuting policy, saying it will encourage some workers to leave their jobs for more flexible opportunities in the private sector, and that the new policy is more restrictive than standards. pre-pandemic.

Certain state employees — including those who are faculty and professional staff at state universities — are not subject to the policy, and it does not apply to legislative or judicial agencies.

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