California Employment Development Department employees brace for shift to in-office work, prompting mixed reactions


Employees at the Employment Development Department (EDD) in California have been told they need to start coming into the office twice a week starting early spring. This message was shared by EDD Director Nancy Farias in an email to the staff.

This move follows similar instructions given to employees at the state’s environmental protection and health and human services departments. The reason behind bringing workers back to the office includes improving teamwork and the work environment, as mentioned by all three departments. Additionally, Governor Gavin Newsom’s budget plan suggests reducing the money given to state workers for working from home, which could be either $25 or $50 per person based on certain conditions.

“Understandably, this will be an impactful change for some of you, and this change will affect everyone differently,” read Farias’s Monday email, obtained via California Public Records Act request. “For that reason, each branch will have the flexibility to assess the reporting requirements based on their operations, office space, and equipment.”

This change is happening after nearly four years of most state employees working from home due to the COVID-19 pandemic, which started in March 2020. Working remotely has offered benefits like saving on fuel, spending more time with family, and the ability to live further away from big cities where living costs are lower.

However, local government leaders and business groups have been asking for employees to return to office work.

In related news, last August, it was announced that a private company would turn three state office buildings in Sacramento, including two used by the EDD, into affordable housing. It’s not clear yet how the new orders to return to the office will affect these plans or where the employees from these buildings will go to work now.

The email directed employees to check a document with frequently asked questions for more details. Many answers in the document end with “Please contact your supervisor,” suggesting that supervisors will play a crucial role in deciding on any special allowances or exceptions to the rule requiring employees to come to the office twice a week.

There are hardly any specific reasons listed in the FAQ for skipping the in-person workdays, which might worry employees hoping to avoid going to the office.

For instance, a common concern is what happens if someone works from home on a day they were supposed to be in the office. The simple answer is that it’s not allowed.

“If you are scheduled to work in the office and you fail to report to the office without advance supervisor approval, you may be considered absent without leave (AWOL),” reads the FAQ sheet. “You may not telework on days you are scheduled to report to an office if it is not preapproved by your supervisor.”

Employees are expected to go to their official workplace, even if it’s a long commute, unless their supervisor says otherwise. They might also have to share workspaces because there’s less office space available and more people and equipment to accommodate.

The document also mentions that employees who need to take care of family members with health issues won’t get any special treatment or exceptions from the requirement to work in the office.

“No, you are not eligible for a reasonable accommodation,” reads the FAQ response. Instead, the question sheet directs employees to protected leave programs such as the Family and Medical Leave Act and the California Family Rights Act.

Alex Burton
Alex Burton
Alex is part of US News Hub where he covers local news about Los Angeles and Long Beach. From LA crime news to local Long Beach events and happenings, Alex provides breaking stories keeping US News Hub readers informed and engaged.

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