On May 20, 2020 we posted IRS Is Asking More Workers To Return To Work Voluntarily Amid The Pandemic, where we discussed that The Internal Revenue Service is recalling about 46,000 of its employees furloughed by the government shutdown, nearly 60 percent of its workforce, to handle tax returns and pay out refunds. The employees won't be paid during the shutdown and the IRS is asking more employees to volunteer to return to work on site with incentive pay as the agency begins to reopen offices that were closed because of the COVID-19 pandemic, the union representing agency employees said.
Now according to Law360, the IRS plans to order employees in Kentucky, Texas and Utah who can't telework to return to their worksites starting June 1, Commissioner Chuck Rettig told workers May 19, 2020, saying the agency would keep pursuing employee safety amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
Rettig delivered the news in an email to agency workers. Tony Reardon, national president of the National Treasury Employees Union, which represents IRS workers, said in a statement that according to the agency, there are about 20,000 IRS employees in the three states. About 9,000 will continue to telework, subjecting 11,000 to the recall, Reardon said.
Reardon said the IRS has informed the union that agency "posts of duty" in those states have been thoroughly disinfected, a comprehensive cleaning schedule is in place and there are sufficient supplies of personal protective equipment for workers to help prevent the spread of COVID-19, the respiratory disease caused by the novel coronavirus.
The union leader said the health and safety of returning workers is a priority for the union, which is why it will continue urging the IRS to provide the returning employees with tests and basic medical screenings.
"The IRS Made Clear That After An Initial Call For Volunteers In Certain IRS Divisions To Return To Work, Mandatory Callbacks Were Likely," Reardon Said.
The directive for some employees to return follows agency workers voluntarily coming back. Earlier this month, Reardon said the union supported an IRS call for additional employees to volunteer to return, but said they needed to feel safe doing so, particularly after a Kansas City, Missouri, worker contracted COVID-19.
Rettig said in his email that over the next several weeks, the agency will continue asking employees whose work isn't portable to return to their posts of duty.
The IRS Is Aware Of Growing Taxpayer Needs And
An Expanding Backlog Of Work At Its Office
And Campus Locations, He Said.
Employees who are sick shouldn't come in and may have to provide documentation if sick leave exceeds three consecutive workdays, Rettig said in the email. Workers who are in high-risk populations as defined by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention may ask for weather and safety leave if they can't telework, he said.
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