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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, employees should be prepared to make a business-based proposal for a proposal to telework, rather than base the request to telework on personal considerations.  At the very least, in addition to describing logistics like location and frequency, you should be able to discuss how you will accomplish your work without adverse effect on your organization and/or co-workers. While an employee may request a telework arrangement in writing or verbally (depending on the agency’s policy), the Telework Enhancement Act requires that a written telework agreement between the supervisor and employee be in place before he/she can begin to telework.  This agreement outlines the specifics of the telework arrangement (e.g., location of telework, expectations).  Also, you will be required to successfully complete an interactive telework training program before you will be allowed to telework. Please note the head of the agency has discretion to exempt employees from this training requirement if they have already been participating in telework.
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  • 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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  • 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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  • Yes, OPM offers a Governmentwide telework training program for employees on our website, www.telework.gov.  Additionally, individual agencies have the option of offering their own on-line or classroom based telework training tailored to their organizations.
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  • 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.  For more information, go to 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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  • Yes.   A manager’s decision to deny a request to telework should be based on sound business management principles and not for personal reasons.  As a general rule, a manager’s denial of a telework request should follow some basic principles:
    • Be in writing
    • Provide an explanation 
    • Be timely
    • Follow agency policies and procedures for denial/termination of telework requests
    • Include any appeals/grievance procedures available to the employee
     
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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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  • 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 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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  • There is no current prohibition in Federal law or regulation that says an employee who engages in telework is not eligible to participate in an alternative work schedule.  Agency telework policies establish the basic guidelines for telework eligibility.  Within this framework, managers and supervisors generally have the discretion to implement telework to fit the business needs of the organization.  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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