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Training & Resources

Telework FAQs

  • Yes. OPM provides web-based employee training modules, in accordance with the requirements of the Telework Enhancement Act of 2010.   Agencies may offer additional training or require additional training. Check with your agency telework coordinator or Telework Managing Officer to find out about any training your agency may offer.
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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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  • There is no current prohibition in Federal law or regulation that says an employee who engages in telework is not eligible to participate in an alternative work schedule.  Agency telework policies establish the basic guidelines for telework eligibility.  Within this framework, managers and supervisors generally have the discretion to implement telework to fit the business needs of the organization.  For more information, please refer to your agency telework policy, contact your agency telework coordinator,or visit your agency HR Department.
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  • Telework is not a substitute for dependent care.  However, in keeping with the objectives of the Presidential Memorandum - Enhancing Workplace Flexibilities and Work-Life Programs, telework is a valuable tool to individuals with caregiving responsibilities. Time saved commuting can be spent with family members, and the flexibility of being closer to home may enable caregivers to take less time off for activities like doctor’s visits, school programs, etc. A teen-aged child or elderly relative might also be at home with the teleworker, after school or during the day, as long as they are independently pursuing their own activities.
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  • Yes.  Denials should be based on the requirements of the Telework Enhancement Act, individual agency telework policies, applicable collective bargaining agreements, and the business and operational needs of the organization.  Remember, telework is not an employee right or entitlement.  Although the intent of the Act is to promote the use of telework, agencies have the flexibility to determine participation based on the specific needs of the organization.  Decisions to deny a request to telework should be based on sound business management principles and not for personal reasons. Also, as a general rule, a manager’s denial of a telework request 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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  • 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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  • The answer will depend largely on the requirements of your individual agency, the agency telework policy, and your manager.  The telework agreement should specify what equipment and/or expenses will be covered by the agency, employee, or shared.  Many employees find the opportunity to telework is so worthwhile they will choose to use their own personal equipment when equipment is not available from their office.  Many agencies also have computers that people can take home.
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  • The Governmentwide Telework Office is not qualified to provide tax advice on the question of whether a telework arrangement qualifies for a Federal tax deduction.  For more specific information about the tax implications of telework, please consult with a qualified tax preparer.
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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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  • Although the Telework Enhancement Act requires every Executive agency to establish and implement a policy to authorize employees to telework, it is important to remember that eligibility criterion is established at the agency level based on mission and operational needs. Also, even though eligibility is established at the agency level subject to the requirements of the Act and collective bargaining agreements, the final decision is still subject to manager approval. So to obtain that approval to telework you may want to follow the following steps:
    • Familiarize yourself with your agency’s telework policies and procedures.
    • Schedule a meeting with your manager to show you are serious about teleworking.  
    • Make the request.  Remember an employee may request a telework arrangement either verbally or in writing.  However, by submitting a written application along with a written proposal can serve as a guide and an organizational tool for your discussion with your manager.
    Think like a manager, in particular, your manager:
    • Focus on the nuts and bolts of your telework arrangement, such as how things will be done or how communication will occur.
    • In some cases it may be better to explain how it will benefit the agency/organization more than how it will benefit you.
    • Focus on telework’s positive effects on your work responsibilities.
    • Be flexible about your proposed telework arrangement.
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  • The answer depends on the specific language and requirements of the agency telework policy.  The Telework Enhancement Act requires each Federal agency to incorporate telework into its Continuity of Operations Plans (COOP).  To meet the objectives of the Act, many agencies have adopted policies that expand the usage of telework to allow a greater number of their telework-ready employees to be productive during Government closures in response to severe weather, special events and other emergency situations.  Consequently, if the agency telework policy requires telework-ready employees to work during agency closures and that requirement is clearly communicated by the agency to the employee in the written telework agreement, then the employee would be required to work.  The bottom line is employees should follow the guidelines as outlined in their agency telework policy.  For more information, please refer to your agency telework policy, contact your agency telework coordinator, or visit your agency HR Department.
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  • Some supervisors express concern that when their employees are teleworking, they will not be able to monitor that employee's work effort.  But when approached correctly, supervisors discover they are better able to monitor the work by shifting the focus from how much work the employee looks like he/she is accomplishing to how much he/she actually is accomplishing.  By focusing on the work product instead of the work activity, many supervisors find they are better able to communicate clear expectations to their employees.  The resulting agreement on job expectations often leads to increases in employee productivity and job satisfaction.
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  • The Telework Enhancement Act is silent on the question of whether an employee is automatically entitled to substitute his/her telework day if it falls on a Federal holiday.  Ultimately the agency’s telework policy and telework agreement should provide the framework for the discussion that needs to take place between the manager and the employee about expectations, including whether the agency’s telework policy allows for a substitution of the telework day if it falls on a holiday.  For more information, please refer to your agency telework policy, contact your agency telework coordinator, or visit your agency HR Department.
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  • In conjunction with the requirements of the agency telework policy, the manager normally decides when and how often a teleworker is away from the office. Most teleworkers are not away from the office more than one or two days a week. And again, communication does not stop when the employee is teleworking.  Instead, some of the face-to-face communication is replaced with the phone, email, videoconferencing and instant messaging.
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  • As a general rule, no.  The Telework Enhancement Act contains specific language that clearly states teleworkers and non-teleworkers are to be treated the same for purposes of:
    • Periodic appraisals of job performance;
    • Training, rewarding, reassigning, promoting, reducing in grade, retaining and removing employees;
    • Work requirements; or
    • Other acts involving managerial discretion
    In sum this means the performance standards for teleworking employees must be the same as the performance standards for non-teleworking employees.  Like non-teleworking employees, teleworkers are held accountable for the results they produce.  Good performance techniques practiced by a manager will mean a smooth, easier transition to a telework environment.  Resources for performance management are available from OPM.
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Total Count: 67, Number of Pages: 5, Page: 1