The IRS is offering its “mission-critical” employees incentive pay for volunteering to return to work during the pandemic.
According to CNN, workers needed by the agency include those who can take calls from taxpayers and those who handle the mail, which has been piling up since work-from-home orders took effect last month.
Employees are needed at ten offices across the country, and those who volunteer to show up in person will see at least a 10 percent increase in their base salary over the next four weeks. Those who report to jobs that are determined to be at a higher risk (such as to the mailrooms) will receive up a 25 percent increase.
The agency did draw some criticism, however, as it revealed it needed some 10,000 employees to return back to work this week and that the workers needed to bring their own personal protective equipment.
“Each IRS facility may not be able to initially procure the PPE for all employees immediately. Employees are therefore required to bring personal face coverings for their nose and mouth area when they come to work,” the agency said in an e-mail, according to NPR.
Those who did not have their own PPE could be sent back home.
Democrats on the House Ways and Means Committee took issue with the e-mail, saying that it is “completely irresponsible and unethical for the IRS to demand those workers obtain their own protective equipment.”
However, the National Treasury Employees Union, which represents several IRS employees, said that it “appreciates” that the agency asked for volunteers first and offered incentive pay.
But it was also noted that if there are not enough volunteers, “the agency will direct employees to return to the workplace.”
The union said that it is “communicating with the IRS about working conditions at those facilities to make sure there are adequate cleaning and disinfecting supplies, accommodations to allow for physical distancing among employees and personal protective equipment, including masks and gloves.”
The IRS has remained busy throughout the pandemic, preparing for a tax filing season that was extended until July 15 and working to send out the stimulus payments that were approved by Congress last month.