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Frequently Asked Questions Telework

Employee

  • Since the Federal telework program and policies cover only Federal employees, Federal contractors are not governed by OPM and GSA telework guidance or by individual agency policies, and are not counted in the annual Status of Telework in the Federal Government report to Congress. However, this does not prohibit – and should not prevent – contract employees from actually teleworking, as appropriate. Telework arrangements for contractors should be negotiated with both the contractor’s own employer and with the appropriate Federal agency official, so policies and procedures are in close alignment and all concerned parties are in agreement.  Telework language may even be integrated into the contract itself.
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  • The application process for a telework arrangement is completely determined by agency policy.  Please contact your agency telework coordinator  or Telework Managing Officer to discuss this process.
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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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  • Agencies have their 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 of 2010 requires that a written telework agreement between the supervisor and employee be in place before s/he 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. Note that 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 Federal agency sets up its own approval process, but generally the immediate supervisor must formally agree to a specific employee's request. Prior to beginning telework, the employee and manager must successfully complete an interactive telework training program and enter into a written agreement.  Contact your telework coordinator or Telework Managing Officer for details about your own agency’s process.
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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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