New Jersey's Civil Service Commission has approved a pilot program under which state departments and authorities, with two notable exceptions, will be tasked with offering telework to their employees for one year, beginning no later than July 1.

A release from Gov. Phil Murphy's office Wednesday provided examples of conditions in which the program would not apply: to select employees of the state Department of Labor and Workforce Development and the Motor Vehicle Commission, agencies which both rely heavily on in-person services that critics say have not been as readily available as needed since COVID-19 restrictions were lifted statewide.

The telework plans of each state entity must be submitted to the CSC by June 1, according to the release.

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Wednesday's announcement was met with approval from the Communication Workers of America's New Jersey chapter, with Murphy saying that the state's union partners were "integral" to the creation of the pilot program.

The release said the shift to telework would continue the precedent for successful services offered in that fashion during the COVID pandemic, modernize the state's public worker landscape, allow for more workplace flexibility, and keep the state competitive with the private sector in terms of employee recruitment and retention.

Although each eligible department is being left to formulate its own plan, the state set several common parameters.

For instance, telework is to be offered to employees no more than two days per week "based on operational need," according to the release.

And for those (such as at NJDOL or MVC) whose job precludes them from working from home under the program, "flextime" or alternate work schedules should be offered.

Employees will be asked to complete an application process to determine their eligibility, and both employees and their managers will have to undergo telework training, the state said.

Patrick Lavery is a reporter and anchor for New Jersey 101.5. You can reach him at patrick.lavery@townsquaremedia.com

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