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Frequently Asked Questions Telework

Employee

  • 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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  • 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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  • 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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  • 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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  • 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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