On May 5, Gov. Glenn Youngkin updated the telework policy for all state employees to begin working in-person full-time by July 5, a change the governor’s office stressed would provide “options for and supports the use of telework where appropriate.” Youngkin said it would help “balance the demands of government services with the needs of our public servants.”
Nexstar’s WRIC learned more than 300 state employees have resigned since the new telework policy was announced in early May. Employees were given two weeks to submit their telework applications.
WRIC found that 28 out of 183 Virginia Department of Transportation workers who left their positions have cited telework options as their reason for leaving. Two VDOT workers who listed telework as the reason did move to another state agency, records obtained by WRIC after filing a Freedom of Information Act request show.
Since May, the Virginia Department of Health had 78 resignations and the Virginia Employment Commission had 37 resignations from May 5 to June 27. Virginia’s Department of Housing and Community Development had seven resignations from May 5 to July 6 and Virginia’s Department of Emergency Management had six resignations from May 4 to July 7.
Most of the departments did not provide reasons for the resignations, but the Department of Housing shared that 29 former workers cited “Better Job,” three said “Dissatisfied,” six cited “Home Responsibilities,” two listed “Illness,” seven said they were leaving the area, three cited “School” and 27 listed “Other” as the reason.
Some employees said they are concerned with losing the flexibility that comes with telework. Others also raised concerns about the increasing cost of travel and trouble arranging childcare.
VGEA, a volunteer, nonpartisan organization that advocates for Virginia state employees, surveyed its members and the results showed that some felt the policy was rushed, confusing and inefficient.
State employees were given two weeks to submit telework applications and the administration set a June 3 deadline to review all of the requests, but Youngkin missed that goal. The governor’s office told WRIC that some agencies received an overwhelming amount of requests and some workers submitted applications late. Still, the July 5 back-to-work deadline remained in place.
There are more than 21,000 state employees eligible for telework and 46% of those workers chose a telework option. Youngkin’s office told WRIC in a FOIA response that as of July 7 there were at least 1,500 final applications.
It’s unclear how many state workers returned to the office when the deadline hit on Tuesday.