OPM: Tips to meet June 7 telework deadline

Tuesday - 4/19/2011, 5:40pm EDT

John Buckner
Federal News Radio

Agencies have less than two months to finalize their telework policies under the Telework Enhancement Act of 2010. The Office of Personnel Management is offering some help with its new Guide to Telework in the Federal Government, detailing how agencies can meet the requirements of the law.

The law expands teleworking across government and OPM is focusing on telework transparency to ensure employees and managers know what is expected from them when working outside the office.

While employees do not have a right to telework under the 2010 act, agencies are required to have a telework policy in place. OPM's guide gives agencies specific criteria to review for the finalization of their individual policies by the June 7.

OPM states two main objectives for agencies as they build the foundation for their telework program: Agencies should write their policies in a clear way so that it is easily understood; And policies also should include the necessary components to support an effective telework program.

An agency's policy must cover certain areas:

  • Program implementation
  • Participants responsibilities
  • How the program will operate

Agencies also must determine who is eligible to telework and notify them of that eligibility. Eligible employees must be trained to telework and enter into a written agreement to participate.

In addition, agencies must consult with OPM when developing their policies and designate a Telework Managing Officer (TMO).

TMO's are responsible for developing and implementing telework policy at their agency. All employees have the ability to go to the TMO with telework concerns and the TMO is to be in direct contract with OPM.

How to be an effective manager of teleworkers

OPM suggests managers and supervisors lead by example in using teleworking to positively reinforce its use. Managers and supervisors should:

  • Get to know their Telework Managing Officer
  • Become knowledgeable on telework policy and procedures
  • Participate in training
  • Communicate expectations to employees

The guide also outlines how employees can be effective users of teleworking. An effective teleworker also is acquainted with their TMO and knows the details of the telework policy.

In addition, teleworkers should perform a self-assessment of their productivity while teleworking and be aware of safety procedures with pertinent information.

OPM's guide for teleworkers asks them to work with their manager or supervisor in voicing telework concerns, training and completing telework agreements.

Training and telework agreements

The 2010 law asks agencies to ensure training is provided to eligible employees, whether it is through the agency or through OPM, which offers telework training online. Employees who have been previously teleworking through an agreement with their agency, are not required to participate in training.

A telework agreement is required by law to be completed before or after training for an eligible employee to participate. OPM's guide says that all employees must complete the agreement regardless being a regular participant or an occasional participant.

OPM's guide states teleworking employees will receive pay based on their official workstation. Pay also will remain the same for employees who are on temporary telework arrangements.

"A teleworker may not earn night pay by choosing to work at night. Night pay is paid for regularly scheduled work performed at night," state OPM in the guide.

Employees who are regularly scheduled to telework on Sundays will receive the 25 percent premium pay for their time.

Teleworking employees who plan to take leave must follow the same guidelines in place when working in the office.

John Buckner is an intern with Federal News Radio.

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