New York City program allows non-union employees to work remotely

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(The Center Square) — New York City will allow more public employees to clock in from home under an expanded remote work policy touted as a way to attract and retain talent.

Mayor Eric Adams said the city is expanding a pilot program allowing eligible employees to work up to two days a week remotely to include about 16,500 New York City employees not represented by a union.

Adams said a program allowing unionized employees to work remotely has been “successful,” so the city is expanding the benefit to the thousands of non-represented public servants “who work tirelessly for our city day in and day out.”

“New Yorkers deserve the best services government can offer, and our secret weapon is the most talented, hardest-working workforce in the world,” the Democrat said in a statement. “Public servants deliver for New Yorkers through the city’s most urgent crises, and now it’s time for us to support them as they have supported us.”

The move comes as many private sector companies in New York City and other major U.S. cities prod their workers to come back to the office after years of flexible work-from-home options, which have lingered long after the COVID-19 pandemic-related lockdowns.

Online retail giant Amazon recently gave managers the authority to fire workers who refuse to report to offices or warehouses at least three times a week.

About 47% of the federal government’s roughly 2 million civilian employees across the country were working remotely in 2021, according to the latest data from the Office of Personnel Management.

Congress has prompted efforts from the Republican-controlled House of Representatives to illuminate remote working options for public employees. The SHOW UP Act, which would force civil servants to work from their offices, was approved by the House this year, but the Democratic-led Senate hasn’t taken it up.

To be sure, Adams has also urged private employers to bring their workers back to counter swelling office vacancy rates in the Big Apple, which cut deep into the city’s tax collections. Some estimates suggest New York City’s financial losses from remote work are more than $12 billion a year.

But New York City officials argue that allowing more public employees to work remotely for part of the work week will improve morale and help the city attract and retain talented individuals.

Dawn M. Pinnock, the city’s commissioner of citywide administrative services, said the program is increasing “equity and access to employment for all New Yorkers and adopting a holistic, human approach to city government.”

“Our efforts have yielded a citywide reduction in vacancies and have improved many of the pathways into public service,” she said in a statement. “By expanding telework policies to include non-unionized city employees, we are putting a focus on retention.”

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