Workforce

Employee onboarding goes virtual

teleconferencing (Menara Grafis/Shutterstock.com) 

The Office of Personnel Management is advising federal agencies to administer oaths of office and onboard new employees using remote technologies while COVID-19 remains a concern.

In a March 24 memo, Acting Director Michael Rigas directed agency human resources officers to collaborate with CIOs to use media such as Skype, FaceTime, and video conferencing in order to swear in employees as long as the coronavirus is considered a national emergency.

Official documents also need to be sent electronically for the time being.

"Agency HR Directors should work with their respective agency [CIOs] to determine the best options," Rigas wrote.

"The HR Specialist or the agency's designee to administer the oath shall request that the employee send an electronic version of the signed document via e-mail to the agency, preferably within three business days of the onboarding process."

Rigas also directed agencies to allow new employees to complete onboarding procedures and orientation remotely.

"Agencies may elect to perform onboarding processes remotely, via visual inspection using remote electronic capabilities."

OPM noted that the Department of Homeland Security temporarily relaxed submission and physical inspection policies concerning the I-9 form, which determines employment eligibility for all agencies.

The executive agency added that departments that opted to take advantage of this option would need to provide DHS with written documentation of their remote onboarding and telework policy for each employee upon request.

Once the national emergency declaration is lifted, agencies will need to perform in-person swearing-in ceremonies for employees who were sworn-in virtually during the pandemic.

About the Author

Lia Russell is a former staff writer and associate editor at FCW.

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