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Frequently Asked Questions Telework

Telework Coordinator

  • Yes. There does not appear to be any language in the Act 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 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.  Also, it is important to remember that the intent of the Act is to promote the use of telework and agencies should make every effort to encourage employees and managers accordingly.
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  • Yes, OPM offers a Governmentwide telework training program for employees on our website, www.telework.gov.  Additionally, individual agencies have the option of offering their own on-line or classroom based telework training tailored to their organizations.
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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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  • 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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  • 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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  • Most agency telework policies and many collective bargaining agreements will include procedures for establishing telework agreements, obtaining equipment, and related matters.  Managers should familiarize themselves and their employees with their agency’s telework policy and applicable collective bargaining agreements to ensure compliance.
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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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  • 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. 

    For more information, go to the 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. 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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  • 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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