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Some state workers not allowed to work from home, sparking frustration

The Texas Health and Human Services Commission implemented a temporary, flexible teleworking policy this week. But not everyone is allowed to work from home.

AUSTIN, Texas — Some state employees are still required to work from their office, which has prompted frustration and concern among workers. 

On Monday night, a spokesperson for the Texas Health and Human Services Commission said they implemented a "temporary, flexible teleworking policy" for employees. 

However, several employees spoke out on social media and contacted the KVUE Defenders, complaining that the department still requires several employees to show up to the office. 

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“I can say it’s been a little bit scary," an HHSC employee said. "It seems as if it’s not being taken as seriously. And even if it is being taken as seriously, anything is not happening quick enough to keep us protected as employees.”

That employee, who asked to exclude her name to protect her employment, said her job duties would allow her to work from home, but she is still required to come to the office.

"Everything is on the computer, everything is telephone, even how we communicate in the office is through the computer most of the time," she said. "So everything could be done at home." 

A spokesperson from HHSC responded to KVUE's request for comment, explaining some employees would have to still work on site because of the nature of their job duties. 

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Here's the full response from the HHSC spokesperson:

"Ensuring the safety of HHSC staff is critical so we can continue to meet the needs of those we serve. To prevent the spread of COVID-19 and effective immediately, HHSC is adopting a temporary, flexible teleworking policy for agency team members.

Because of the unique nature of the many services we provide to our most vulnerable Texans, and those who receive benefits through HHSC, the reality is there are some team members whose duties cannot be performed remotely. We take this circumstance extremely seriously, and we are developing protocols to ensure the safest possible work environments. This includes extra measures to increase social distancing in the workplace, the use of staggered or alternate scheduling to reduce the number of people in an area at a given time and efforts to increase sanitization of HHSC facilities."

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