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Thousands of state workers pivot to working remotely in winter storm

Posted at 1:35 PM, Dec 15, 2021

SALT LAKE CITY — Thousands of state employees were asked to work remotely in the aftermath of the winter storm that slammed into northern Utah overnight.

It is the first time the state has utilized a new law for teleworking for a snowstorm. The law was passed by the Utah State Legislature earlier this year, originally designed for days when Utah has bad air quality. But it also included a provision for "special circumstances."

The law was created in light of the COVID-19 pandemic, when a number of people were forced to work remotely.

"In this situation we knew a storm was coming, but it turned out to be worse than what was originally forecasted," said Sophia DiCaro, the executive director of the Governor's Office of Planning & Budget. "So it ended up being a special circumstance day."

The Governor's Office of Planning & Budget said 10,766 employees have been identified to work remotely across the state.

"People who are already remote working or people who may be eligible to remote work could surge work," DiCaro, who was also working from home on Wednesday, told FOX 13. "And that means if you’re not regularly working but you’re eligible to remote work, you’re encouraged to do so."

The law applies only to state government employees. However, lawmakers have intended for it to serve as motivation for private sector employers to improve Utah's air quality and keep people safe.

A number of school districts also pivoted to online learning because of the storm. With the advent of remote learning, it has largely done away with the concept of a "snow day" for Utah school children.