October 7, 2021
Dear Bargaining Unit 2 Member:
CASE is pleased to announce that we have executed a new agreement with the State regarding telework, which includes a modest stipend to help offset the costs associated with working from home.
The fully executed agreement is attached. In brief, it provides that employees will be designated as either: 1) remote-centered if they work 50% or more of the time at an alternate work location; or 2) office-centered if they work 50% or more of the time at their State office. The stipend provides for $50 per month for remote-centered workers, and $25 per month for office-centered workers.
In order to qualify for the stipend, employees must have a valid telework agreement on file with their department by the end of October. The standard form STD 200 is attached, and we encourage all members to fill out the form and submit it this month. The stipend goes into effect for the October pay period, so it is important to get the agreement on file as soon as possible. Please note that because the Legislature still has to appropriate funding for these stipends, which likely will not occur until Spring 2022, the payments for the first 5-6 months of the stipend will not be received until next year, but they will be paid retroactive to October 2021 provided you have an agreement on file with your department.
Please also note that each member should determine for themselves whether they wish to be designated as remote-centered or office-centered. We know there are a variety of individualized factors that go into this determination, including the nature of your work, your commute and child care situation, the space available in your home to create an adequate workspace, etc. In addition, we are aware that some departments are actively looking to reduce their real estate footprint, and it could well be the case that employees who elect to be remote-centered will no longer be provided their own private office at their headquarters. Instead, some departments may implement “hoteling” or shared-office models to save space.
In the course of negotiating this agreement, CASE pushed for the stipend to be increased, and the State refused. CASE also passed proposals to make the stipend retroactive to the beginning of the pandemic when most of our members started incurring telecommuting costs; the State again refused. We passed proposals seeking to implement a non-taxable reimbursement model like the one used at State Fund; the State once again refused. As a result, this stipend will be counted as taxable wages.
The State’s new Telework Policy (also attached) gives departments some minor flexibility to deviate from it, but not as much as prior iterations. While individual departments will likely roll out their own telework policies in the coming months, they must be consistent with the statewide policy. In the meantime, CalHR has informed us that the statewide policy controls. As a result, it is important to submit your telework form now even though the details of your department’s specific telework policy may not be known for several months.
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As always, your support of CASE and your colleagues in Bargaining Unit 2 is greatly appreciated.
The CASE Board of Directors