HONOLULU (KHON2) — Hawaii state workers are being told to work from home if they can, but they are running into issues.
“We have heard complaints that for instance telework is either being held up or it’s being denied,” said the Department of Human Resources Development Director Ryker Wada.
Last week, the Hawaii Government Employees’ Association called for all state departments to limit employee presence in the office when possible.
Hawaii Government Employees Association on behalf of all affected members is urging ALL departments in government to limit the physical presence of employees wherever possible to protect employees and limit the spread of COVID-19.Hawaii Government Employees Association
At a special senate hearing Wednesday, Wada said that is something they are encouraging, but that decision is up to each state department. The fact that each department can make those decisions without following a set standard is frustrating lawmakers.
“There doesn’t seem to be a consistency in how the state is approaching telework and how it’s approaching working in the office,” said Sen. Donovan Dela Cruz.
Wada argued that to get certain jobs done, some workers need to physically be at work. However, there are also other considerations.
“The department might be making a decision for telework based on that individual. We’ve heard anecdotal reports that when the pandemic first started there were employees that were allowed to telework and then were not actually doing their work,” said Wada.
Lawmakers say in addition to letting more workers work from home, the Department of Human Resources Development should do more to protect the workers that do have to go into work.
“There is a complaint that the desks aren’t far apart and that people aren’t all wearing their masks, and we saw an example at [the Department of Health] of two people sharing one cubby hole,” said Sen. Donna Mercado Kim.
Wada said the department continues to encourage workers to socially distance and wear masks. He adds that he will work with the governor on a directive on how departments and workers should proceed.
As of right now the state said essential services will remain and there will be no changes.
The City and County of Honolulu is also continuing all in-person services as scheduled.
In-person services are by appointment only, which significantly reduces the number of people in our offices at any given time. The appointment system also allows us to better manage the flow of customers coming to our offices and accommodate social distancing recommendations.City and County of Honolulu