OPM says more than one million federal employees eligible for telework

Home Office by drummerboy for Morguefile.com
Home Office by drummerboy for Morguefile.com

\WASHINGTON, January 10, 2014 — A recent report from the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) indicates that there are more than one million federal workers eligible for telework. That’s nearly half of all federal employees in the entire government.

“We want agencies to use telework strategically to drive results: ensuring continuity of operations, reducing management costs, improving our employees’ ability to balance their work and life commitments, and increasing accountability for achieving individual work results,” says Katherine Archuleta, director of OPM.

Telework is defined in the report, “Telework is a work arrangement that allows an employee to perform work, during any part of regular, paid hours, at an approved alternative worksite (e.g., home, telework center). This definition of telework includes what is generally referred to as remote work but does not include any part of work done while on official travel or mobile work. See the following clarifications on remote and mobile work.”

The report indicates that

  • The number of employees deemed eligible for teleworking increased by 49 percent;
  • The number of employees with telework agreements increased by 84 percent; and,
  • The number of employees who teleworked in a September-to-September snapshot increased by
  • 24 percent.

Of the 2,157,668 counted federal workers, 1,020,034 (47%) were eligible for telework. Of those eligible, approximately 30% did telework at some point over the one year measurement the report is covering.

FederalNewsRadio.com reports that some agencies are particularly adept at encouraging telework, and have high rates of workers engaging in the practice:

  • The Patent and Trademark Office – 82 percent
  • The General Services Administration – 59 percent
  • The Treasury Department – 48 percent
  • The Department of Health and Human Services – 42 percent
  • The Education Department – 41 percent

Of course, there are limits to the government’s telework program. Employees must meet these strict criteria before becoming eligible:

  • The employee has not been officially disciplined for being absent without permission for more than 5 days in any calendar year.
  • The employee has not been officially disciplined for violations of subpart G of the Standards of Ethical Conduct for Employees of the Executive Branch for viewing, downloading, or exchanging pornography, including child pornography, on a Federal Government computer or while performing official Federal Government duties
  • Teleworking does not diminish the employee’s performance or agency operations.
  • For an employee participating in the telework program, participation and performance complies with the requirements and expectations of his/her telework agreement.
  • The employee’s official duties do not require on a FULL daily basis (ALL DAY, every work day):
    • direct handling of secure materials determined to be inappropriate for telework by the agency head; or
    • on-site activity that cannot be handled remotely or at an alternate worksite.
    • The employee and/or the employee’s position are not disqualified based on additional criteria established by the organization.
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Rahat Husain
Rahat Husain has been working as a columnist since 2013 when he joined the Communities. With an interest in America and Islam, Rahat is a prolific writer on contemporary and international issues. In addition to writing for the Communities, Rahat Husain is an Attorney based in the Washington DC Metropolitan area. He is the Director of Legal and Policy Affairs at UMAA Advocacy. For the past six years, Mr. Husain has worked with Congressmen, Senators, federal agencies, think tanks, NGOs, policy institutes, and academic experts to advocate on behalf of Shia Muslim issues, both political and humanitarian. UMAA hosts one of the largest gatherings of Shia Ithna Asheri Muslims in North America at its annual convention.