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Frequently Asked Questions Telework

  • 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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  • 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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  • 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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  • Yes, OPM offers a Governmentwide telework training program for managers on our website.  Additionally, individual agencies have the option of offering their own on-line or classroom based telework training tailored to their organizations.  In addition to the training for managers offered on our website, there is also specialized training available through OPM's Eastern and Western Management Development Centers. Details on the Development Centers and course schedules can be found at the Center for Leadership Development's 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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  • The answer depends upon the intended use of the checklist.  If the checklist is used solely for program purposes, such as acquainting the teleworker with workplace safety, then the agency may require employees to sign such a checklist to participate in telework.  However, if the checklist is intended to have legal standing for safety and/or liability purposes, then the answer is no.

    For more information, please refer to GSA's 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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