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Frequently Asked Questions Telework

  • 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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  • No.  It is the employee's responsibility to maintain a clean, safe and productive home office environment.  Depending on the requirements of the agency telework policy, a manager may ask the employee to complete a safety checklist self-certifying the home office is free from hazards.  The checklist generally provides a description of the agreed upon alternative worksite or designated work area, a self-certifying assessment of its overall safety, and if signed, assumes compliance.
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  • 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. You can work with your telework coordinator to fully understand the relevant policies and procedures. If you are eligible by the terms of the policy and have followed proper procedures, your telework coordinator can help you write a business-based proposal to submit to your manager.
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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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  • Although it is a common practice for teleworkers to have a different schedule on their telework days, the answer depends on the specific requirements of the agency telework policy and the specific work arrangement agreed to between the manager and the employee.   At a minimum the actual telework agreement should clearly outline expectations between the manager and the employee around certain basics such as: 1) schedules, 2) technology and equipment, 3) availability by phone, email, etc., 4) telework during emergencies, 5) reporting to the office worksite, etc.  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 provisions of the Telework Enhancement Act only pertain to Federal civilian employees as defined by 5 USC 2105.  However, there is no Federal statute or regulation that specifically prohibits Federal contractors from teleworking.  Generally, the decision to allow a contractor to telework would be made by the contractor’s supervisor and/or in conjunction with the contracting agency/office.
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  • Yes. OPM offers a Governmentwide telework training program for employees and managers; however, individual agencies have the option of offering additional on-line or classroom based telework training tailored to their organizations.
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  • Federal hiring authority and decisions are made at the individual agency level.  The Governmentwide office for the Federal telework program does not maintain information about Federal job opportunities or a listing of Federal positions that are eligible for telework.  As required by the Telework Enhancement Act, each Federal agency establishes its own telework program authorizing employees to telework, including determinations about eligibility.   For more information about Federal job opportunities please visit the USAJOBS website.
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  • It is important to note that performance standards for teleworking employees must be the same as performance standards for non-teleworking employees. Management expectations for performance should be clearly addressed in the employee's performance plan, and the performance plan should be reviewed to ensure the standards do not create inequities or inconsistencies between teleworking and non-teleworking employees. Like non-teleworking employees, teleworkers are held accountable for the results they produce. Good performance management techniques practiced by the manager will mean a smoother, easier transition to a telework environment.
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  • Information about the total number of Federal employees participating in telework can be found on OPM’s telework website.  Each year, OPM issues an Annual Report to Congress on the Status of Telework in the Federal Government that addresses each Executive agency’s telework program, the level of participation, method of measuring participation, agency participation goals, and progress in meeting these goals.
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