Capitol Notes

Plan in the works for return of non-essential state employees

State employees working from home will soon learn what their transition back to the office might look like.

As part of the effort to curtail the spread of the virus back in mid-March, Gov. Andrew Cuomo directed all non-essential state employees to work from home. And with the state allowing New Yorkers employed at some non-essential private businesses in certain regions to return to their work sites, it appears state employees will soon be following.

A spokesman for the state Office of General Services, which manages the buildings used by state agencies, said Thursday that “guidance for state employees returning to the office will be released soon.”

Steps are taken in Albany for the return of non-essential state employees, including the posting of social distancing signs.

Last week, the state Department of Health posted a message on their internal, online bulletin about its “re-opening guidance.” Additionally, “Returning to Work” signs began popping up in the Empire State Plaza and Capitol with instructions on social distancing and capacity restrictions for elevators and bathrooms.

“State agencies have now been directed to develop regional plans with a goal towards reopening beginning as early as June 1,” reads the May 29 bulletin. ” As the state agency most directly impacted by COVID-19 pandemic response activities, DOH never closed. However, many programmatic activities were put on pause, or were completed in alternate ways, quite often remotely from DOH physical locations.”

The department’s message stresses that employees shouldn’t return to their worksite unless directed to do so by their program management. But they add that employees may be asked to return to their office, where there will be social distancing, face covering and temperature check requirements.

“It is important to note that, as we begin to re-open, NYS’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic remains the Department’s primary focus, and no steps should be taken or planned that would impede any COVID activities. To that end, it is expected that a majority of DOH program activities will continue to operate on a telecommuting basis as much as possible,” reads the bulletin.


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