Oregon will stop paying state employees to travel to their offices, even if they work out of state. The new policy, the opposite of what was done during the pandemic, starts on September 1.
In a news release, Governor Tina Kotek said the delay would give the state Department of Administrative Services time to tell employees about the policy change.
The move comes as the Oregon Legislature considers a bill limiting commuting reimbursements for remote workers from out of state to those within 60 miles of the Oregon border.
Minority Leader Tim Knopp, R-Bend, sponsored Senate Bill 853 after hearing about state employees who took advantage of the policy by moving to states without income taxes, like Florida and Texas, and charging the state for their travel costs when their jobs required them to be in Oregon.
SB 853 was passed by the Senate last month, and a House committee is now reviewing it.
Last August, Willamette Week was the first to write about the policy.
In February, DAS told state legislators that 41,543 people work in the executive branch of Oregon’s government. Of those, 6,348 work from home in the same state, and 432 work from home in a different form.
Andrea Chiapella, who is in charge of DAS communications, said that the state does not know how much taxpayer money has been used to pay for travel costs for remote workers in or outside the state. That’s because each agency keeps track of its costs, and DAS hasn’t asked for the totals.
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She also couldn’t say how much the extra six months of reimbursements would cost taxpayers.
Chiapella said, “We don’t know what these travel reimbursement costs might be from now until September.” She said that by the end of January, $10,882 had been paid back to DAS employees alone.
Monday, DAS was unable to say what travel costs could be reimbursed.
Below a Twitter post related to this news-
Oregon to Stop Paying State Employees to Travel to the Office pic.twitter.com/ef4ilRor0V
— Trending News (@trendingnewsorg) April 4, 2023
Starting on September 1, state employees can still work from home if their agencies permit them to do so. But employees who work from home will no longer get paid to get to work.
“We must ensure that state resources are used effectively to serve Oregonians and that our policies reflect the evolving needs of our workforce and the public,” Berri Leslie, DAS interim director, said in the governor’s news release. “We look forward to implementing this change and continuing to refine our policies to meet the needs of our state employees,”
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