Youngkin in Woodbridge

Virginia Gov. Glenn Youngkin at Harbor Grille in Woodbridge in June 2022 to highlight his legislative successes. First lady Suzanne Youngkin is to his left.

Some state workers in Virginia have opted to leave rather than return to the office. More than 300 employees from five state agencies have resigned since Gov. Glenn Youngkin changed the state’s telework policy in May.

According to records obtained by WRIC ABC in Richmond, most of the current exodus came from the Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT), which lost 183 employees after Youngkin’s change to telework policy.

The new policy, which was announced on May 5, went into effect on July 5.

Other agencies seeing significant departures include the Virginia Department of Health (VDH), the Virginia Employment Commission (VEC), Virginia’s Department of Housing and Community Development (DHCD) and Virginia’s Department of Emergency Management (VDEM).

WRIC’s reporting came from several Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests with Virginia state agencies.

On May 5, Gov. Youngkin rolled back Virginia’s COVID-19 telework policy, stating that “these updates balance the demands of government services with the needs of our public servants.”

In effect, the policy says employees whose jobs can be done remotely can apply to work from home for “appropriate” reasons. The approval process for work days from home is now based on the frequency of telework days requested.

Once a week or temporary telework for reasons including family illness, a school closing or poor weather requires an agency head’s approval.

Twice a week requires a cabinet secretary’s approval.

Three or more days a week require approval by the governor’s chief of staff.

Critics of the revised policy say that it ignores the needs of agencies that had previously allowed for telework and the approval process has become confusing.

Last Wednesday, a day after the new policy went into effect, the Virginia Governmental Employees Association released a survey on the telework changes, citing responses from over 400 state employees.

Among the complaints with the new policy change, were the rising cost of gas, continued concerns over health and safety due to COVID, confusion with the changes and who gets to approve telework, and overall efficiency in their job due to being able to work from home.

“An overwhelming majority said that they got just as much done at home (or more) as they did in the office by avoiding water cooler talk, being distracted by other employees,” authors of the VGEA survey said.

Some in the survey said the new telework policy is more stringent than it was before the COVID-19 pandemic, with one respondent saying “I teleworked prior to COVID for 10 years … The new telework policy is more stringent than the pre-COVID policy and will limit my telework ability to one day per week if allowed.”

In its summary, VGEA stated they “urge the Youngkin administration to delay the implementation of the telework policy to Sept. 12, 2022, to allow for state employees to address needs related to child care, commuting, and a less stressful return to the office — especially after many state employees (not all) are just emerging from the life-changing trauma of the last two years of the COVID pandemic while still trying to manage many lingering, related challenges.”

WTOP’s John Domen contributed to this story.

(18) comments

Brad London

This is typical when a large group of employees are held accountable. Dead wood is the first to go. And we are talking less than 1%. Yet the liberal media tries to write hit pieces against a great governor. Now the media looks stupid as usual.

Harry Morant

300 out of ~95,000 (not including faculty as public colleges and universities)? Some exodus.

George Lawton

Who cares about the lazy government slobs, majority of them are leftists anyways. They quit because they have to physically get off their a** and show up lol

John Dutko

The majority of them have at least one degree and relevant work experience. And those people can make significantly more money in the private sector.

So maybe this was the breaking point as the government most likely has positions contracted out and, being a smart employee, take advantage of the pay bump.

Duke Nukem

So he was doing them a favor. Who knew they could easily get a new job that pays more with better benefits. I guess they were just working for the people out of the kindness in their hearts. I wonder how many are now feds working for the big guy.

Aa Bb

Says an old man who posts on here 24/7, aka retired. This isn't the 1970's grandpa, telework is the new norm. Going back to the office equals lower pay. Gas, maintenance, parking and time effectively lower one's salary. The inflation far outpaces any raises year after year. Not all jobs require a person to be "onsite", 90% of IT jobs can be done from home. If you don't know that, you're not that bright. "Physically get off your ass" only means get in the car, sit in traffic and drive when all the work is done on a computer. Again, this isn't 1960, 70, 80 or 90 for that matter.

Duke Nukem

Didn't you take the mandatory ageism training at your cushy IT teleworking job? Which MMO do you play while on that meeting you can't stand?

Lynne June

400 are quitting because they must go into work? That’s a high number. What did they do before the pandemic? Perhaps they should re-evaluate individual jobs to determine the feasibility of work from home.

Tom Manson

Sad that so many don't understand how productive home working can be, or jealous that they don't have that opportunity. Regardless, celebrating government workers changing profession is incredibly dumb. The government continues to shed gray beards at a rapid pace, making the services less and less efficient. Republicans want the self fulfilling prophecy here - demonstrating government not working by making it not work. Pathetic really.

Duke Nukem

I boil down the women's pay equity movement to jealousy too.

CarWash Bonzai

Good job on them! Reagan Youngkin is inconsiderate even to his employees. In the middle of a recession, inflation and high gas prices, you want to get rid of remote work and exacerbate our traffic issues. Bring Northam back

Duke Nukem

Northam is busy with his underground abortion operation. Plus Youngkin apparently did them a favor. If Northam was in there they would still be working for the state for less money and benefits, which apparently everyone assumes they left for.

Patrick Mcconnell

Who cares if they leave? If they don’t want to show up for work, hire someone who will. Most workers have to show up for work to get paid.why r these people special?

John Dutko

A lot of them have some type of clearance. Not necessarily TS/SCI, but Public Trust at least. They need to be able to deal with your information and not just use it willy-nilly. So trust is a HUGE issue with government jobs. And vetting those individuals takes a significant amount of manpower and money. Those government workers are supposed to be apolitical and make the state function; when that gets compromised, things break and the people lose confidence.

If the work wasn't getting accomplished, then sure, bring people back. But it is and middle management really has no purpose. So when they are bringing back people, there is a lot more meetings and meetings for the meetings...and prep for those meetings. It's an ourobouros of crappy 90's business mentality that the managers want to cling onto and the antiquated office space mentality only hinders production.

The ones who are crying the loudest are the office leasing administrators. They saw the writing on the wall and lobbied HARD to get people back.

Sacagawea Lax

Spot on.

Perhaps instead of swinging the pendulum from one side (tele-work) all the way back to the other (work-space), they should look into hybrid work weeks. But it sounds like what your saying are the in person's meeting aspects, but wouldn't those same meetings just be held virtual as well, like they have been?

Plus, I don't know which department(s) specifically these jobs are referring to, but at the end of the day I think the message the Governor is probably trying to send is, Covid is over , get back here. But it appears, that may not be the case with the new variant, even more transferable person to person than the original omicron strain. These folks probably aren't going to be comfortable headed back in if this keeps up. As a result, workers may struggle and this will be blowback from trying to integrate back to normal, when we've already reached a new normal.

Sacagawea Lax

*you're

Duke Nukem

Thanks for the clarification.

Mike Hunt

The one time I actually agree with you.

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