Agencies can ask teleworkers to work during hurricanes

The benefits of the Telework Enhancement Act may come into play this summer as the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration predicts a busier than normal hurricane season along the Atlantic basin, which includes the Atlantic Ocean, Caribbean Sea, and Gulf of Mexico.

In response to NOAA's predictions, Office of Personnel Management Director John Berry issued a memorandum to chief human capital officers on June 30 to remind them of policies to help feds during natural disasters and related information on telework, emergency-critical hiring, reemploying annuitants and direct-hire authority, Federal News Radio reports.

If agencies are closed during a hurricane emergency the memo said an office can ask teleworkers to continue working at their alternative worksites on any workday even if they are not labeled as emergency workers.

"One of the major benefits of telework is its ability to help maintain the continuity of government operations during emergency situations, while ensuring the safety of our employees," the memorandum said.

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Reader comments

Mon, Aug 1, 2011 BaltFed Woodlawn

I have worked from home several times, but what happens when the hurricane takes out the power to your entire community at home? There are three roads into my community but during Isabel two were blocked by trees. The one by the river that I thought would have been flooded was the only one open. I have a generator but I don't hook it up until the storm has passed, and it provides enought juice to run the refridgerator, the well pump and a few lights, and maybe my FiOS box when I add a new outlet for it. Now, assuming that a tree hasn't taken out the fiber, maybe I can work, and maybe I can't. Then again, I'll have to have remembered to bring the laptop home in the first place ...

Tue, Jul 19, 2011 Lou

In answer to the question "Is the Governments IT system(s) ready for the bandwidth and load of every teleworker in the National Capital Area logging in and working at the same time?", I would hope they're all working during their normal work hours - regardless if at their desk in one building or from an office in their home. Teleworkers simply sign onto their desktop. Our data remains on the highly secured drives, etc. Bandwidth remained the same, ability to work efficiently did too. Phones are VOIP and we forward our own as needed. The users contacting us have no idea we're working offsite. Also, each of us supporting these systems work more efficiently from home. We simply get more done, fewer distractions, etc.

Mon, Jul 18, 2011 Lou NC

I telework two days a week. If on a telework day, bad weather causes my management to close their offices, I still work. If employees in one building had to be sent home due to a flood or broken air conditioning, it doesn't affect the employees in other buildings and they still have to work. We don't get "extra" pay. Thinking you're owed the extra pay is just too weird. Glad I don't work around folks who think like that. Our management would outsource all of us.

Wed, Jul 13, 2011 SOTE Contractor Federal Agency

And if you are a contractor, you get to work all day and all night to support the multiple Feds some of whom work only in the morning, some work only in the afternoon and some only work at night. But the contractor has to be online all the time to handle their any whim.

Thu, Jul 7, 2011

what happens if the alternate work site is vacated due to evacuation orders. Can I work at an alternate to my alternate?

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