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Telework FAQs

Telework Eligibility

  • Subject to the limitations specifically described in the Act, the agency eligibility requirements and any applicable collective bargaining agreements, the law applies to all Federal Executive agency employees, regardless of geographic location.  In the definitions section of the Act (Sec. 6501), the law refers to 5 USC 2105 for the meaning of the term "employee." If your agency is considered to be an Executive agency and if all of your employees fall within the definition in 5 USC 2105, the law applies, regardless of the location of any given employee's permanent duty station.
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  • There is no current prohibition in Federal law or regulation that says managers and supervisors cannot telework.  Managers and supervisors must be committed to using telework to the fullest extent possible within their organizations if Federal telework programs are to succeed.  Experience is the only way to enable managers and employees to work through any technology, equipment, communications, workflow, and associated issues that may inhibit the transparency of telework.  Also, individuals expected or anticipated to telework during an emergency situation, including managers and supervisors, should be encouraged to telework with some frequency under non-emergency situations.  Managers and supervisors should make it a point to regularly participate in telework in order to lead by example and be comfortable with the dynamics of managing in a telework environment.
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  • The provisions of the Telework Enhancement Act only pertain to Federal civilian employees as defined by 5 USC 2105.  However, there is no Federal statute or regulation that specifically prohibits Federal contractors from teleworking.  Generally, the decision to allow a contractor to telework would be made by the contractor’s supervisor and/or in conjunction with the contracting agency/office.
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  • Yes.   A manager’s decision to deny a request to telework should be based on sound business management principles and not for personal reasons.  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 answer depends.  Agency telework policies establish the basic guidelines for telework eligibility and the application process.  Within this framework, managers and supervisors generally have discretion to implement telework to fit the business needs of their organizations. Some agencies may impose additional eligibility standards around tenure that may limit when an employee is eligible to participate in telework.  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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  • 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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  • Agency telework policies establish the basic guidelines for telework eligibility and the application process. Within this framework, managers and supervisors generally have discretion to implement telework to fit the business needs of their organizations. You can work with your telework coordinator to fully understand the relevant policies and procedures. If you are eligible by the terms of the policy and have followed proper procedures, your telework coordinator can help you write a business-based proposal to submit to your manager.
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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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  • 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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  • 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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  • According to the law, among other responsibilities, the TMO "shall be devoted to policy development and implementation related to agency telework programs" and is to "serve as an advisor for agency leadership, including the Chief Human Capital Officer" and is to be "a resource for managers and employees." Since the intent of the Act is to encourage the maximum use of telework by Federal employees, given the duties described in the law, it would be appropriate for the TMO to advise agency management and leadership about the feasibility of denying telework participation to employees in an office. Of course, situations will vary and the TMO will need to take into account all of the facts that went into such a decision as well as potential opportunities for a synergistic approach to telework given the circumstances.
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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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  • 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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