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Frequently Asked Questions Telework

  • Each individual agency has its own policies and procedures that determine how its employees may apply for a telework arrangement.   In general, most employees submit their telework application to their immediate supervisor.
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  • No.  Telework is not a universal employee benefit or an employee right.  Federal law requires agencies to establish telework programs but does not give individual employees a legal right to telework.
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  • Information about the total number of Federal employees participating in telework can be found on OPM’s telework website.  Each year, OPM issues an Annual Report to Congress on the Status of Telework in the Federal Government that addresses each Executive agency’s telework program, the level of participation, method of measuring participation, agency participation goals, and progress in meeting these goals.
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  • The Telework Enhancement Act specifically gave Federal agencies the responsibility for establishing a policy under which their eligible employees would be allowed to telework, to determine who specifically was eligible to telework, and it gave them the responsibility for notifying all employees of their eligibility status.  The purpose for doing so was to allow Federal agencies maximum flexibility to establish telework policies based on their individual mission and operational needs.  As such, even though the agency telework policy serves as the framework for determining eligibility, the discretion to grant a request to telework is normally made at the manager/employee level.
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  • The answer depends.  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. Some agencies may impose additional eligibility standards around tenure that may limit when an employee is eligible to participate in telework.  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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  • Federal hiring authority and decisions are made at the individual agency level.  The Governmentwide office for the Federal telework program does not maintain information about Federal job opportunities or a listing of Federal positions that are eligible for telework.  As required by the Telework Enhancement Act, each Federal agency establishes its own telework program authorizing employees to telework, including determinations about eligibility.   For more information about Federal job opportunities please visit the USAJOBS website.
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  • Yes, the Telework Enhancement Act requires every employee who participates in telework to have a written agreement, regardless of the type of telework.
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  • Generally, decisions regarding what equipment will be provided for teleworkers are made by the agency and individual manager consistent with the agency’s telework policy and applicable collective bargaining agreements.  We encourage managers to familiarize themselves with these guidelines and also their agency’s policy on equipment.  Within those constraints, the challenge is often finding the right balance between budget, security and effectiveness.  Factors to consider include technology needs based on the work of the employee, agency security requirements, and budget constraints.   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 find more information in the 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.  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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  • 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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