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Frequently Asked Questions Telework

  • No.  The language of the Telework Enhancement Act does not contain language that would lead us to revise our understanding that telework is a voluntary flexibility.  In other words, an agency may not compel an employee to telework even if the duties of the position make that employee “telework eligible.”  However, although entering into a telework arrangement is voluntary, once the employee is under such an arrangement, he/she may be required to telework outside of his/her normal work schedule in the case of a temporary emergency situation if that understanding has been clearly communicated by the agency to the teleworking employee in the written telework agreement.  Also, it is important to remember the intent of the Act is to promote the use of telework so agencies and managers should make every effort to encourage employees and managers to telework as appropriate.
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  • The answer depends on the specific language and requirements of the agency telework policy.  The Telework Enhancement Act requires each Federal agency to incorporate telework into its Continuity of Operations Plans (COOP).  To meet the objectives of the Act, many agencies have adopted policies that expand the usage of telework to allow a greater number of their telework-ready employees to be productive during Government closures in response to severe weather, special events and other emergency situations.  Consequently, if the agency telework policy requires telework-ready employees to work during agency closures and that requirement is clearly communicated by the agency to the employee in the written telework agreement, then the employee would be required to work.  The bottom line is employees should follow the guidelines as outlined in their agency telework policy.  For more information, please refer to your agency telework policy, contact your agency telework coordinator, or visit your agency HR Department.
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  • Yes. For specific information about what expenses are reimbursable under your agency telework policy please refer to your agency telework policy, contact your agency telework coordinator, or visit your agency HR Department.   Also, the General Services Administration (GSA) provides guidelines for implementing and operating telework and other alternative workplace programs through the efficient and effective use of information technology and telecommunication.  Additionally, GSA provides basic recommendations for the equipment and support that an agency may provide teleworkers.  You can get more information at GSA Guidelines for Alternative Workplace Arrangements.  For more information about your agency equipment policy for telework, please consult your agency telework policy or telework coordinator.
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  • No.  It is the employee's responsibility to maintain a clean, safe and productive home office environment.  Depending on the requirements of the agency telework policy, a manager may ask the employee to complete a safety checklist self-certifying the home office is free from hazards.  The checklist generally provides a description of the agreed upon alternative worksite or designated work area, a self-certifying assessment of its overall safety, and if signed, assumes compliance.
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  • Some supervisors express concern that when their employees are teleworking, they will not be able to monitor that employee's work effort.  But when approached correctly, supervisors discover they are better able to monitor the work by shifting the focus from how much work the employee looks like he/she is accomplishing to how much he/she actually is accomplishing.  By focusing on the work product instead of the work activity, many supervisors find they are better able to communicate clear expectations to their employees.  The resulting agreement on job expectations often leads to increases in employee productivity and job satisfaction.
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  • The provisions of the Telework Enhancement Act only pertain to Federal civilian employees as defined by 5 USC 2105.  However, there is no Federal statute or regulation that specifically prohibits Federal contractors from teleworking.  Generally, the decision to allow a contractor to telework would be made by the contractor’s supervisor and/or in conjunction with the contracting agency/office.
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  • There is no current prohibition in Federal law or regulation that says managers and supervisors cannot telework.  Managers and supervisors must be committed to using telework to the fullest extent possible within their organizations if Federal telework programs are to succeed.  Experience is the only way to enable managers and employees to work through any technology, equipment, communications, workflow, and associated issues that may inhibit the transparency of telework.  Also, individuals expected or anticipated to telework during an emergency situation, including managers and supervisors, should be encouraged to telework with some frequency under non-emergency situations.  Managers and supervisors should make it a point to regularly participate in telework in order to lead by example and be comfortable with the dynamics of managing in a telework environment.
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  • Agency telework policies establish the basic guidelines for telework eligibility and the application process. Within this framework, managers and supervisors generally have discretion to implement telework to fit the business needs of their organizations. You can work with your telework coordinator to fully understand the relevant policies and procedures. If you are eligible by the terms of the policy and have followed proper procedures, your telework coordinator can help you write a business-based proposal to submit to your manager.
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  • Yes. OPM offers a Governmentwide telework training program for employees and managers; however, individual agencies have the option of offering additional on-line or classroom based telework training tailored to their organizations.
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  • Although it is a common practice for teleworkers to have a different schedule on their telework days, the answer depends on the specific requirements of the agency telework policy and the specific work arrangement agreed to between the manager and the employee.   At a minimum the actual telework agreement should clearly outline expectations between the manager and the employee around certain basics such as: 1) schedules, 2) technology and equipment, 3) availability by phone, email, etc., 4) telework during emergencies, 5) reporting to the office worksite, etc.  For more information, please refer to your agency telework policy, contact your agency telework coordinator, or visit your agency HR Department.
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