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Frequently Asked Questions Telework

  • 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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  • No. While telework is not a substitute for dependent care, it can be a very valuable flexibility to employees with caregiving responsibilities. While the presence of dependents in the home should not be an absolute bar to teleworking, employees should not be engaging in dependent care activities while performing official work duties.

    Also, teleworkers with in-home dependent care arrangements should remember that all workplace policies remain in place, including telework start/end times, rules regarding time and attendance, and employee expectations concerning performance and conduct.  

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  • The ideal teleworker is self-motivated, well organized, a problem-solver, and someone who can work independently with minimal supervision. Successful teleworkers have a high degree of job skill and knowledge, and strong time management skills. Teleworkers like working at home or away from the office for at least part of the week and do not mind working alone. Teleworking is not ideal or desirable for every employee.
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  • Not necessarily. The Act states the head of the agency may provide for an exemption from the training requirements "if the head of the agency determines that the training would be unnecessary because the employee is already teleworking under a work arrangement in effect before the date of enactment." The bottom line is that employees who have already been teleworking may be exempted from this training requirement; however, the decision to waive this training requirement must be made by the agency head and implemented in the manner that is normally done in your agency.
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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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  • No. An employee's "eligibility" for telework does not automatically confer the right or the obligation for an employee to "participate" in telework. Agencies have discretion to make their own eligibility and participation determinations for employees subject to operational needs while considering the specific requirements of the Act. The fact that an employee may be deemed "eligible" does not mean that the employee can be compelled to "participate" because telework is a voluntary workplace 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." Keep in mind that 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 telework 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.
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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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  • No. In fact, the Act does not define what is meant by the term "interactive," thereby leaving it subject to interpretation. OPM has always considered the "Telework 101" training on Telework.gov (and therefore, online) to meet the definition of "interactive" in that there is a built-in opportunity for the trainee to self-assess his/her understanding through the use of frequent questions and answers and progress checks throughout. For this reason, we maintain that the training currently on Telework.gov meets the requirement of the law. In 2011, OPM engaged a vendor to enhance this training in a number of ways, including both substance and format. This is being accomplished keeping in mind improved "interactivity" through the selective use of media tools that will make the training more engaging for employees. However, OPM's interpretation is that there is no requirement that this training be instructor-led as compared to computer or  Internet-based.
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  • The Telework Enhancement Act of 2010 (Act) requires that each Executive agency designate a Telework Managing Officer (TMO). Before the law was passed, most agencies fulfilled the day-to-day operational aspects of telework through a telework coordinator (with telework coordinators at the subagency level). The telework coordinator served as the key contact for policy and program questions. Many coordinators, however, had telework as a collateral responsibility without much authority or contact with senior leaders. The Act requires the TMO to assume these duties as the main agency official on telework matters. The TMO is a senior official of the agency, established within the office of the Chief Human Capital Officer (CHCO), or its equivalent, and who has direct access to the head of the agency. Note that he or she does not need to be the CHCO. The important thing is that the position be given direct access to the head of the agency. We believe it is the intent of this legislation that the TMO be a strategic thinker and planner who will help the agency incorporate telework in a way that makes good business sense.

    The TMO is responsible for policy development and implementation related to telework programs; serves as an advisor to agency leadership; and is the primary point of contact with OPM on telework matters. In addition to making telework an integral way of doing business in the agency, the TMO will be responsible for helping with the development of goals and metrics in order to evaluate the effectiveness of the program. In designating a TMO, agencies should look for the same leadership competencies and high standards they would consider in selecting for any leadership position.
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  • The certificate is accessed at the completion of the Employee Telework 101 Module 5 – Game. Simply go to the end of Module 5 and you will come to the dialog box that reads:  Certificate of Completion.  You should then be able to fill out your information and print the certificate.  If that does not work, another option is to try this link to print your certificate.
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