Telework guidance incorporates Telework Act

OPM shows agencies how to implement the law

The Office of Personnel Management on April 18 issued a telework guide to help agencies implement the Telework Enhancement Act and to serve as a resource on the law for rank-and-file feds. President Barack Obama signed the act into law in December.

The new law requires each agency to establish telework policies, designate a telework managing officer to oversee the agency’s telework program, and incorporate telework into continuity-of-operations planning.

Among the highlights of the guide are sections on:

Eligibility. The guide does not include guidelines for a “standard,” or generic “one-size-fits-all,” eligibility determination, leaving such decisions to agencies themselves. However, OPM did note that the act contains two specific circumstances that may render an employee ineligible to telework: Disciplined employees who violate computer-use rules or are admonished for being absent without permission for more than five days may be temporarily ineligible for telework. Suspended employees may be permanently ineligible, according to the guidance.

Training. The guidance notes agencies must make interactive telework training available to employees and that employees must complete such a course before they may enter a telework agreement with the agency. However, such telework classes do not need to be instructor-led, according to the guide. OPM’s basic telework training modules (Telework 101) for employees and managers available on www.telework.gov are sufficient, the guidance states.

Employees with standing written telework agreements may be exempted from any training requirements an agency adopts, the guidance states. However, if employees are specifically exempted, OPM recommends that agencies provide those employees with complete updated information related to the act, because their original training would not have covered its requirements.

Telework agreement. All employees who telework must have a telework agreement in place, whether the telework is considered regular and recurring or situational, the guidance said. For telework agreements to be valid, participants must first complete the required telework training. Getting the training out of the way is especially important for employees who do not regularly telework but plan to take advantage of the “unscheduled telework” option when the government is closed due to inclement weather. If an employee does not have a written telework agreement in place, he or she cannot perform unscheduled telework when it is offered due to the status of government operations, OPM said.

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