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Frequently Asked Questions Telework

  • This is a common myth, but implemented properly, a telework program should not cause any extra work for non-teleworkers.  Teleworking and non-teleworking employees must understand expectations regarding telework arrangements including coverage, communications and responsibilities.  Also, managers should avoid distributing work based on “availability” by physical presence to avoid unfairly burdening coworkers who do not telework. Keep in mind good performance management practices are essential for telework to be effective and equitable.  For more guidance on performance management, please see OPM's Performance Management page.
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  • Yes.  The Telework Enhancement Act allows for termination of a telework agreement if an employee does not comply with the terms of the written agreement and/or if the performance of the employee falls below a certain standard (usually fully successful).  Telework denial or termination decisions should be based on the operational needs of the organization and/or performance in accordance with the requirements of the Act and the agency’s telework policy.

    When deciding to terminate a telework agreement, a manager should be able to document and demonstrate that:
    • The employee’s teleworking directly and negatively impacts the employee’s performance or the performance of the work group/organization
    • Continuation of telework will interfere with remediation of the standards such as the employee’s ability to attain or return to a fully successful performance level.
    Also, as a general rule, a manager’s termination of a telework agreement 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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  • 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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  • To obtain a copy of your agency telework policy, first go to your agency’s intranet.  If you are unsuccessful, please contact your agency telework coordinator or TMO or visit your agency HR Department.
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  • Yes. For specific information about what expenses are reimbursable under your agency telework policy please refer to your agency telework policy, contact your agency telework coordinator, or visit your agency HR Department.  

    Also, 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. 

    You can get more information at 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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  • No.  The statute requires that each employee be appraised against his or her performance standard(s).  It does not allow for appraising an employee by "presuming" that an employee is meeting performance standards.  For the same reason, the process for appraising employees described by the regulations does not provide for any "assumed" levels of performance.
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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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  • The telework agreement provides the framework for the discussion that needs to take place between the manager and the employee about expectations.  For all types of telework, this discussion is important to ensure that managers and employees understand one another’s expectations concerning maintaining communication with the office and what will be done to meet contingencies.  If the teleworker is needed, he/she may be asked to come into the office on a scheduled telework day.
    If the employee is required to come into the office, the telework agreement should outline  the expectation regarding the amount of notice (if any) should be given for reporting to the official worksite, and how  such notice will be provided.  For further information, please consult your agency telework policy.
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  • 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.

    Government employees causing or suffering work-related injuries and/or damages at the alternative worksite are covered by the Military Personnel and Civilian Employees Claims Act, the Federal Tort Claims Act, or the Federal Employees’ Compensation Act (workers’ compensation), as appropriate.  Managers should immediately investigate any reports of accidents or injuries on the job.
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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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