The State Department is making it harder for federal workers who travel to foreign postings with their military spouses to keep their jobs, presenting them with a cruel choice: career or family. Sens. Marsha Blackburn (R., Tenn.) and Maggie Hassan (D., N.H.) agree that a recent modification to the State Department’s work policies make it tough– if not impossible– for federal employees who accompany their military partner overseas to preserve their roles while abroad. The modification likewise impacts the federally employed partners of government workers appointed to abroad posts.
Blackburn and Hassan are launching a rare bipartisan examination of the State Department over the policy shift, which was provided in a little-noticed modification to the agencies work policies. It is uncertain why the State Department tightened up limitations on those attempting to work overseas, especially due to the coronavirus pandemic, which enormously impacted the State Department’s labor force.
The legislators declare the Biden administration is basically rejecting “all telework requests for federal employees assigned to or near military installations.” They wrote to Secretary of State Antony Blinken asking for the State Department to supply a host of files associated with the policy change.
“These recent changes to the policy guidance have had a negative impact on federally employed spouses who are accompanying their spouse on government assignment or military orders overseas,” the lawmakers wrote, saying that they are in touch with government workers who have been told their work-abroad agreements are “at risk of being revoked” due to the policy change. Others, they say, have been placed on extended leave with pay pending a review of their requests, while still others “have been denied approval entirely” despite having an approved telework agreement.
The shift in policy comes at a delicate time for federal employees as draconian coronavirus restrictions subside and employees go back to their offices. The federal government deals with manpower shortages and other issues as a result of the COVID vaccine mandate, to which an unidentified quantity of federal workers have actually objected. Those who are unvaccinated have actually been barred from their workplaces sometimes and required to take leaves of lack.
The Domestic Employees Teleworking Overseas program (DETO), which has traditionally accommodated those who should take a trip abroad and wish to keep their role, is especially crucial for the federally utilized spouses of American military members. Preventing these people from continuing their work overseas is expected to negatively impact recruiting and retention for the U.S. Armed Forces, which likewise is dealing with staffing concerns due to the COVID vaccine mandate. Around 40,000 active duty members in the Army, Navy, Air Force, and Marines are facing expulsion for challenging the vaccine mandate, though the official number is unknown to the public, according to estimates by congressional investigators.
Teleworking contracts are unusual in the federal government due to the associated expenses, Blackburn and Hassan want to understand why the program has actually been scaled down.
“As continued affects sic from COVID-19 remain ongoing, has the Department of State looked into potentially raising any numerical caps to allow federally employed trailing spouses, including military spouses, to continue to use, and expand the use, of DETO agreements?” they ask Blinken in their letter.
They likewise would like to know what or whom triggered the policy change. The legislators requested details on the number of federal workers who are presently on leave or leave without pay due to a pending telework arrangement demand. This likewise consists of the variety of applications that have actually been straight-out rejected.