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Frequently Asked Questions Telework

Employee

  • Yes, managers can deny a request to telework, based on business reasons and subject to limitations on telework participation described in the Telework Enhancement Act of 2010. For example, an employee’s performance may not meet the standards outlined in the agency’s telework policy or the terms of the written telework agreement between that employee and his/her supervisor.  Similarly, a position may not be eligible because its official duties and responsibilities have been determined to be incompatible with telework.  The denial should be made in writing, with an explanation, and this written denial should be provided to the employee in a timely manner. . Collective bargaining agreements may provide for an employee to file a grievance about the denial or cancellation of a telework agreement through the negotiated grievance procedure.  Check with your agency's employee relations staff in Human Resources to discuss your agency's procedures.
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  • There is no governmentwide probationary period for employment before beginning telework. Individual agencies may have a tenure requirement for some or all positions, however. Contact the telework coordinator for the relevant agency for further information about whether or not there is such a restriction.
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  • Telework is not a substitute for dependent care.  However, telework can be valuable to individuals with caregiving responsibilities. Time saved commuting can be spent with family members, and the flexibility of being closer to home may enable caregivers to take less time off for activities like doctor’s visits, school programs, etc. A teen-aged child or elderly relative might also be at home with the teleworker, after school or during the day, as long as they are independently pursuing their own activities.
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  • The USAJOBS website lists all available Federal Government positions. Positions that may be telework eligible are not generally designated differently than other positions, although the job description may give insight as to whether the duties may be suitable for telework.  For example, job duties considered to be "portable" might include responsibilities such as analyzing data, coordinating events, and writing reports. Information about whether or not a position may be telework eligible could be discussed during the interview or offer stage of a job search.
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  • The manager and teleworker training both offer the opportunity to print a certificate once you complete all of the modules.  Some users have had difficulty printing the certificates, due to information technology security restrictions established by their agencies.  If you have such problems you will need to work with your own technical support group to resolve these issues.
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  • Yes. OPM provides web-based employee training modules, in accordance with the requirements of the Telework Enhancement Act of 2010.   Agencies may offer additional training or require additional training. Check with your agency telework coordinator or Telework Managing Officer to find out about any training your agency may offer.
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  • There are no Governmentwide restrictions on distance for teleworkers.  You should consult your own agency’s policy to determine whether your agency has its own restrictions. Teleworking from this distance may have an effect on duty station, if you are not physically present at your duty station at least two days in each biweekly pay period.  For more information, see Official Worksite, Travel, and Related Policies.
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  • The official definition of "telework" can be found in the Telework Enhancement Act of 2010 (the Act): "[t]he term 'telework' or 'teleworking' refers to a work flexibility arrangement under which an employee performs the duties and responsibilities of such employee's position, and other authorized activities, from an approved worksite other than the location from which the employee would otherwise work." In practice, "telework" is a work arrangement that allows an employee to perform work, during any part of regular, paid hours, at an approved alternative worksite (e.g., home, telework center).  This definition of telework includes what is generally referred to as remote work but does not include any part of work done while on official travel or mobile work. You may also be familiar with the terms "telecommuting" and "flexible workplace" and both are sometimes used to describe what we now generally refer to as "telework."  While "remote" and "mobile" work are also terms that are sometimes used as synonyms for telework, they tend to operate differently than telework as is apparent in the detailed operational definition.  For consistency, OPM recommends that all agencies use the term "telework" for reporting purposes and for all other activities related to policy and legislation, as defined in the Act.
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  • First and foremost, be professional. Try to find out why you were turned down and see if there is anything you can do to change or address the factors that resulted in your request being denied as suggested above. Second, do not get discouraged.  Even though telework is not new to the Federal Government, the culture change necessary to support telework uniformly across agencies does take time. Third, be persistent, but not at the risk of annoying your manager. Fourth, consider speaking with your agency telework coordinator. Finally, stay informed and look for opportunities to network with other teleworkers within your agency.
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  • Subject to the limitations specifically described in the Act, the agency eligibility requirements and any applicable collective bargaining agreements, the law applies to all Federal Executive agency employees, regardless of geographic location.  In the definitions section of the Act (Sec. 6501), the law refers to 5 USC 2105 for the meaning of the term "employee." If your agency is considered to be an Executive agency and if all of your employees fall within the definition in 5 USC 2105, the law applies, regardless of the location of any given employee's permanent duty station.
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