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Frequently Asked Questions Telework

  • No.  Telework arrangements are typically voluntary.  However, once an employee enters into a telework arrangement, it is possible that an agency may require an employee to telework if this is clearly stated and agreed to in the written telework agreement.  To avoid ambiguity, the telework agreement should specify what is expected of employees under these circumstances.
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  • 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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  • 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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  • 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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  • 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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  • Supervisors should not manage the performance of teleworkers any differently than non-teleworking employees. However, telework may require some changes in communication techniques, and managers will need to be mindful of the ways they assign and reward work to ensure they are equitable for onsite and teleworking employees.  The Telework Enhancement Act of 2010 requires that teleworkers and nonteleworkers be treated the same for purposes of performance appraisal; training, rewarding, reassigning, promoting, reducing in grade, retaining, and removing employees; work requirements; or other acts involving managerial discretion.
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  • Yes. OPM provides web-based manager training modules, in accordance with the Telework Enhancement Act of 2010. Training for managers is also available through OPM’s Eastern and Western Management Development Centers.  Details on the Development Centers and course schedules can be found at www.leadership.opm.gov.   Check with your agency telework coordinator or Telework Managing Officer to find out about any telework training your agency may offer, as well.
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  • No, the agency is not required to visit the teleworker’s home to inspect it for safety and ergonomics, although agency policy may establish that a manager or other official has the right to do so.  For purposes of guidance, agency policies may include a self-certification safety/security checklist that managers may ask teleworkers to complete as a proxy for an onsite visit.  Additional information on this issue may be found on GSA’s website at http://www.gsa.gov/portal/content/104170.
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  • Generally, each Federal agency will be responsible for the service and maintenance of all government owned equipment. Teleworkers using their privately-owned equipment (when allowed by their agency) are responsible for service and maintenance. GSA's FMR Bulletins provide additional guidance about telework equipment and technology.
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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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