The House is rolling back requirements for in-person harassment and workplace rights training put in place at the height of the #MeToo movement in response to coronavirus measures prompting cancellations and a shift to online meetings.
“Until further notice, all Members and staff may satisfy the mandatory Workplace Rights and Responsibilities Training requirement by participating in a live interactive webinar,” according to a memo from the House Administration Committee to House employees.
In-person classes that were scheduled in Washington will, starting March 13, be canceled and rescheduled for a future date as “live interactive webinars.”
The committee says the decision was made in accordance with guidance issued by the Attending Physician and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
The House mandated sexual harassment and workplace rights training for all lawmakers and staff in November 2017. The resolution governing implementation of training, adopted by the House Administration panel, said participants must attend the training "in person," defined as training where the individual being trained is physically present in the same room as the entity conducting the training.
The House workplace rights and responsibilities training is run by FranklinCovey, a firm that specializes in management and workplace training.
Making the training in person was a priority for the lawmakers who led the charge to overhaul the harassment reporting and resolution process. At the time, they were concerned about employees taking the training seriously and didn’t want staff to just click through slides and not pay close attention.
A limited exemption for House employees serving outside of Washington was included, allowing an interactive webinar or video conference to constitute in-person training. Friday’s memo said that previously scheduled live interactive webinars for will remain available.
Washington-based staffers who have been instructed to work remotely due to coronavirus will need to use a House computer and be on the House network to access the training. There is no blanket training for all House employees. New hires have a 90-minute training for employees and interns, returning staffers take a 60-minute refresher course. There are "tailored and updated training webinars" for lawmakers and staff in supervising and non supervising roles.
The June 5 deadline for members and staff to complete the training has not changed in light of the coronavirus pandemic.