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New bill would have state employees work from home on bad air days

This study coming out of Harvard looks at the pre-existing conditions that increase the risk of COVID-19 -- which are the same diseases related to long-term exposure to air pollution. (Photo: Jeffrey D Allred, Deseret News)

SALT LAKE CITY — Working from home could become something more regular for many people especially if a new bill passes that would have state employees work from home on bad air quality days.

“Take the state out of the problem in air quality. When we have bad air, there’s no reason we should be asking state employees to get on the roads,” said the bill’s sponsor, State Senator Dan McCay.

McCay says the data showed this March, the air was cleaner than last March because people were not driving as much.

He said we have learned a lot from the remote work being done during this pandemic.

“It’s clear we need to get rid of some of the old paradigms. The old paradigms include that an employee isn’t productive unless they are sitting right in front of us,” he said. He added that he has seen studies showing how much more productive workers are right now.

The state has tried to do more teleworking, but McCay says it could be done on a much larger scale. And he believes the private sector would follow the state’s example.

“We have some habits to break in the workforce,” he said.