Telework Pilot Program Approved for NJ State Executive Branch

On April 6, after months of discussions between CWA and the State about a state-wide telework program for the executive branch, the NJ Civil Service Commission approved a Pilot Program that will implement telework no later than July 1, 2022. The pilot sets general guidelines for all state departments and authorities to follow when developing their department-specific telework policies.

As you know, CWA has been advocating for a state-wide telework policy for months. During the COVID public health emergency, many CWA members performed front-line essential services and had to report to work every day. Many more members had job functions that could be performed remotely, which helped with social distancing, health and safety, and continued public services during a crisis. We proved that telework works.

Let’s be clear – member strength is crucial in every discussion with the State. Any progress forward is a credit to our membership and our solidarity. Members have been fighting for telework to become a standing program, separate from COVID, as a way to modernize our workplaces, aid with recruitment and retention, improve the environment, and balance employee needs with operational needs.

We are pleased the State is taking this step for a permanent Telework Program and also to establish AWP in all appointing authorities.  CWA will work tirelessly in the coming weeks and months to ensure telework implementation is broad, fair, and successful.

Here are some highlights of the new State Telework Pilot Program: 

Timeline:
  • April 6: Civil Service Commission approved the Pilot Program, setting overall state guidelines
  • June 1: Deadline for every appointing authority to submit departmental policies and implementation plans. Departments must consult with the affected Unions prior to submitting a plan. Departments may submit a plan prior to the deadline.
  • July 1: Deadline for all departmental telework plans take effect.
  • The pilot will last one year at which time the State will review experience and develop a permanent program.
  • If approved by CSC, appointing authorities can begin to implement telework plans immediately.
All appointing authorities will institute a robust pilot telework program. 

All appointing authorities will also establish an Alternate Workweek Policy (AWP) and flextime program which will  be available to  employees not eligible for Telework. 

Telework can be approved up to two (2) days in a calendar week. 

The number  of days approved will depend on the employee’s request and operational needs. Once a telework schedule is approved, , it becomes  the employee’s work schedule, and can only be changed based on operational needs. CWA will monitor and respond the implementation of the Program to ensure operational needs are legitimate. 

Employee eligibility for telework is determined by job duties. 

Telework should be approved for employees who have portable work and whose workday can be replicated at home. This may be straightforward for some members. In other cases, CWA may have to assist members with advocating to arrange work responsibilities to allow telework. There may be other limitations to telework based on corrective action.

All appointing authorities will make available flextime schedules and/or alternate work programs for employees who are not eligible for telework when operational needs allow it. 

AWPs allow employees to work a compressed workweek or pay period, completing their normal number of work hours in less days within a pay period.  Flextime schedules permit employees to adjust their hours of work within a given day.  For example, rather than working 9-5, flextime might permit an employee to work 10-6.  

Policies regarding employee participation in both telework and AWP/Flextime will be discussed with Departments during policy development. 

CWA will continue to address this and other related issues with the State to maximize the effectiveness of the Pilot Program.

The Telework Pilot Program is a new State policy and CWA supported its adoption as soon as possible after months of discussion. However, as with most State policies, there are some problematic issues which we will continue to discuss with each Department during implementation.

Locals will follow-up with members to discuss the Pilot Program in more detail at upcoming worksite and special membership meetings. Please make every effort to join membership meetings, stay in contact with your Stewards, and get any non-members in your worksite to join the Union. We are stronger together.

In Solidarity!