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Important Lessons From Federal Telecommuting Act

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in Human Resources,Office Management

Come spring, many federal employees will become eligible to telecommute. That's because President Obama signed the Telework Enhancement Act into law in December. The Act requires all federal agencies to establish telework policies within six months.


While private employers are not required to follow the provisions of the Act, those that currently have teleworking arrangements, or those contemplating such arrangements, are smart to take a closer look at the law. Here's what federal employers have to do and what private employers would be wise to do.

  • Determine employee eligibility to participate in the program. The Telework Enhancement Act does not apply to any employee whose official duties require, on a daily basis, direct handling of secure materials determined to be inappropriate for telework or on-site activity that cannot be handled remotely or at an alternate worksite. It also prohibits participation by an employee who has been officially disciplined for being absent without permission for more than five days in any calendar year or for viewing, downloading, or exchanging pornography on a government computer or while performing official government duties.

  • Notify all employees of their eligibility to telework.

  • Draft a written agreement between the employee and their manager outlining the agreed-upon work arrangement. Stipulate that the employee will not be authorized to continue telecommuting if their performance does not comply with the terms of the agreement.

  • Establish an interactive telework training program for eligible employees and their managers. Do not allow employees to enter into a written telework agreement until they have successfully completed the program.

  • Ensure that teleworkers and non-teleworkers are treated the same for purposes of performance appraisals, training, rewards, reassignments, promotions, or other acts involving managerial discretion.

  • Establish guidelines to ensure the adequacy of information and security protections for information and information systems used while teleworking.

  • Maintain a central telework website that includes telework links, announcements, and additional guidance to ensure that telecommuters are kept in the loop.

  • When purchasing computer systems, purchase systems that enable and support telework.

  • Designate a Telework Managing Officer who is devoted to the implementation of telework training and agreements and who serves as the primary contact point for telework matters.

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