On June 29, Headquarters transitioned to Phase 2 of our plan to return to the work place and our second transition went well. As state and local governments in National Capital Region (NCR) are proceeding with reopening, we are preparing for our eventual transition to Phase 3 at Headquarters, where all employees are expected to resume normal schedules and return to the workplace. We are not announcing the start of Phase 3 at this time and there is no specific date for the start of Phase 3 at Headquarters.
I have said from the beginning of this pandemic that the health and safety of our workforce is of paramount importance and will guide all actions in returning personnel to our facilities. It appears likely that social distancing protocols will continue to be implemented for Phase 3. Also as stated in our Headquarters Plan, we are monitoring local conditions and are cognizant of schools in the NCR, such as Fairfax and Arlington Counties, which are requiring decisions on the upcoming 2020-2021 school year shortly.
In order to allow you to effectively plan for upcoming decisions you may need to make now regarding schooling, dependent care, vulnerabilities, and other issues, I want to make you aware that federal employees will be able to request temporary increased flexibilities when we move to Phase 3 at Headquarters. These flexibilities will be reviewed on a monthly basis to account for changes in essential services and conditions in the NCR due to COVID-19. Supervisors are expected to communicate with their employees to be aware of each employee’s circumstances and continue to be sensitive to, and flexible with, employees’ personal situations. Support contractor companies may implement similar, revocable accommodations at the discretion of contracting officers.
As always, all employees are accountable for meeting established performance requirements whether physically in the workplace or while on telework. Any performance or conduct issues will be handled as always by working with the Employee and Labor Relations in the Office of the Chief Human Capital Officer. When we enter Phase 3 in Headquarters, I remain confident that the DOE team will continue demonstrating the same dedication to our missions you have shown throughout these challenging times.
As a reminder, a trained Employee Assistance Program (EAP) counselor is ready to assist you if you are experiencing grief, loneliness, fear, and stress. Federal employees at DOE Headquarters can contact the Department’s EAP Specialist at (202) 586-4995. Federal employees outside of the DC area may contact Espȳr at (877) 801-5752 to speak to a counselor. For additional resources, Federal employees may access the Espȳr website (the DOE password can be found on the internal EAP page).
With COVID-19 continuing to touch all aspects of our lives, I remain honored and thankful for your commitment and your perseverance and public service in safeguarding and strengthening our nation’s energy and science infrastructure and supporting national security. We will continue to get through this together. Be well and stay safe.
Secretary of Energy