With people complying with stay-at-home orders, more and more people are teleworking. Telework is defined as the ability of an employee to work in another location, as authorized by their employer, other than the one they are supposed to work at.
Telework has become the new normal for quite a number of people. However, working from home is a complicated process for those in the federal sector, and not all federal employees even qualify to do so. Here are the rules required for teleworking in the federal government.
Teleworking in the Federal Sector
The United States Office of Personnel Management (OPM) provides extensive guidelines for telework for federal employees in the Telework Enhancement Act. According to the OPM, telework is “a work flexibility arrangement under which an employee performs the duties and responsibilities of such employee's position, and other authorized activities, from an approved worksite other than the location from which the employee would otherwise work.”
Telework allows federal employees to perform their work duties in an additional place as approved by the agency. The act applies to all Federal Executive agency employees regardless of their geographic location. However, there are limitations to the eligibility requirements. While an agency can provide the option to telework for federal employees, they are not legally required to offer it to all employees.
Training is Required
For a government employee to be eligible to telework, the employee has to first be trained for it. Through the OPM, there are training courses available, which managers have to also undertake before they oversee employees who do. The courses will cover all the guidelines on how to work remotely, such as staying connected to the office and keeping their supervisors up to date on their work. It also allows supervisors to carry out their duties even with employees who are teleworking.
Telework Must Be Voluntary
As previously mentioned, telework is not something that an employer can make their employees do. The entire point of telework is to ensure continuity of operations in an agency, so they can have it as an option for flexibility in case of change of circumstance, such as the current health pandemic. An employer needs to understand that they will be in violation of rights if they make an employee remotely work if they haven’t chosen to do so themselves.
Seek Skilled Guidance
Eligibility on who get to telework is determined inhouse by the agency. If your agency offers telework but is not allowing you to do so, always seek legal aid to help you protect your career and your rights. At The Law Firm of John P. Mahoney, Esq, Attorneys at Law, our federal employee lawyer is dedicated to serving the rights of federal employees.
Have questions about teleworking as a federal employee? Call our dedicated federal employment attorneys today at (202) 759-7780.