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WASHINGTON, DC, April 25, 2020 –After obtaining an email sent from the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) Human Capital Office to IRS employees stating that agency employees responsible for answering phones, processing mail, and other “mission-critical work” will not only be required to resume their on-site duties starting Monday, April 27, but also will need to acquire and wear their own personal protective equipment (PPE), Ways and Means Committee Chairman Richard E. Neal (D-MA) and Ways and Means Oversight Subcommittee Chairman John Lewis (D-GA) issued the following statement:
“We understand better than nearly anyone in Congress that the IRS is of essential importance to the federal government and to our nation. It is understandable that in carrying out its mission during a crisis, the agency would require some employees to report back to work during perilous times. However, it is completely irresponsible and unethical for the IRS to demand those workers obtain their own protective equipment — this is the responsibility of the federal government to its workers. The agency is expecting entirely too much of employees who are likely distraught over the health risks returning to work presents for themselves and for their families, as well as the potential repercussions they could face if they do not clock in on Monday with the mandated equipment in-hand.
“We find the IRS’s demands of these workers especially troubling given that earlier this week, Commissioner Rettig informed congressional staff that 100 IRS employees have been diagnosed with COVID-19, and four of the agency’s employees have died due to the virus. The IRS should not require any employees it deems essential to report to work until it is able to provide those individuals with the protective equipment they are required to wear.”