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Frequently Asked Questions Telework

Manager

  • 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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  • The Telework Enhancement Act defines telework or teleworking as 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 or telework center).
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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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  • 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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  • 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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  • 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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  • 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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  • The Telework Enhancement Act is silent on the question of whether an employee is automatically entitled to substitute his/her telework day if it falls on a Federal holiday.  Ultimately the agency’s telework policy and telework agreement should provide the framework for the discussion that needs to take place between the manager and the employee about expectations, including whether the agency’s telework policy allows for a substitution of the telework day if it falls on a holiday.  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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  • 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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  • 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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