Senate passes compromise telework bill

Eligible federal employees could telework at least 20 percent of the hours they work each 2-week period

Telework proponents this week lauded Senate passage of a compromise federal teleworking bill. The Senate passed the bill Sept. 30 with an amendment on unanimous consent.

Under the Telework Improvements Act of 2010 (H.R. 1722), agencies will have 180 days to determine the eligibility of all employees to telework and to establish policies for eligible employees. After an employee is deemed eligible, he or she must enter into a written telework arrangement with the agency. Eligible feds could telework at least 20 percent of the hours they work each two-week period.

H.R. 1722 also requires agencies to incorporate telework into their continuity-of-operations plans, allowing them to head off the effects of events such as the blizzards that struck the Washington, D.C., area this year. The bill also orders the Office of Personnel Management to expand telework training opportunities for employees and managers. The House now has to act on the compromise.

“Employing telework on a governmentwide scale constitutes a significant culture shift in the federal workforce,” said Federal Managers Association National President Patricia Niehaus, whose organization supports the bill.

Niehaus said the change will require “an increased investment in managerial training to maintain employee engagement, monitor performance and promote cooperation when face-to-face.”

“This is a very welcome development,” said National Treasury Employees Union President Colleen Kelley, who applauded the bill’s training provision. “The more managers and employees understand telework, the more the advantages become clear."

 

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