Epic Systems Cancels Plan to Force Almost 10,000 Workers Back Into Offices

Epic Systems Cancels Plan to Force Almost 10,000 Workers Back Into Offices



By Jonathon Sadowski

August 12, 2020

The plan drew intense backlash from many of the company’s employees and a letter from the health department.

Healthcare software firm Epic Systems will no longer require its employees to return to work at its Verona headquarters in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic, the company told employees over the weekend.

Claiming the company was more successful when everyone was in the office, Epic’s Chief Executive Officer Judy Faulkner informed employees last week that the workforce of nearly 10,000 would be called back to work in-person starting this week.

In a Saturday night email to employees, first reported by the Wisconsin State Journal, the company backed off those plans after health officials contacted company leadership, and dozens of workers spoke out to media outlets and hundreds more took an internal survey that showed overwhelming opposition to the plan to return.

Public health officials with Public Health Madison and Dane County warned Epic that making employees return to the offices could be a violation of the county’s public-health safeguards against COVID-19, the State Journal reported.

The current local health order mandates that businesses “should, to the greatest extent possible, facilitate remote work and other measures that limit the number of individuals present at an office.”

In the health department’s letter, Public Health Services Supervisor Bonnie Koenig asked Epic to prove its operations require in-person work, according to the State Journal.

In the initial letter to employees telling them they would be required to come back to work, Faulkner praised them as “heroes” but tried to convince them that “staff who have returned to campus say there are many reasons why working at Epic is better.” 

About two third of the company’s employees were still working from home as of last week, according to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.

“It’s been feeling like employee health isn’t being considered,” one employee told the State Journal last week. “We’ve been told it’s about the culture. It makes us feel very disposable.”

Dane County’s containment of the virus was among the best in the state for about three months during the pandemic, but cases began to skyrocket in June, climbing from 762 confirmed cases on June 1 to over 4,600 as of Wednesday, according to local data.

More than 400 workers responded to an internal employee-authored survey, The Cap Times reported, which showed 89 percent of workers opposed Epic’s handling of the COVID-19 pandemic, while 56 percent said they weren’t comfortable returning to the headquarters.

The backlash and warning from the health department led to Epic on Saturday telling employees they were no longer required to return if they “do not feel that your personal circumstances or concerns allow you to return to campus,” according to the State Journal.


CATEGORIES: Coronavirus


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