Berry Stresses Uniformity of Agency Telework Policies

By on November 28, 2012 in Current Events, Human Resources with 3 Comments

In a memo released this week to heads of executive departments and agencies, OPM director John Berry urged agencies to work towards having a more comprehensive telework policy that utilizes OPM’s recently updated inclement weather policy.

OPM updated its weather closure procedures this week in which it announced revisions to its operating status messages and added a new policy instructing employees to stay off of the roads in poor weather conditions.

Berry’s memo follows on the heels of these changes, stressing telework policy changes in particular.

The memo states:

When Federal offices are closed, OPM’s operating status announcement requires that two types of telework-ready employees will perform work:  (1) employees already scheduled to perform telework on the effective day of the announcement and (2) employees required to perform telework according to their written telework agreement when the Federal Government is closed.  However, there is a third category of teleworkers – (3) those who are telework-ready but are neither scheduled to work on the day of an OPM closure announcement or required to work on that day according to their written telework agreements.  Currently, group (3) may be the largest category of telework employees.  OPM urges that agencies migrate towards a more comprehensive telework policy by incorporating group (3) employees into group (2) (i.e., employees required to perform telework when the Federal Government is closed).  Note that written telework agreements, consistent with agency policies and subject to any collective bargaining agreements, must be in place before requiring telework for both (1) and (2).

Berry also reminds agency leaders to follow OPM’s closure directives in the event of wide ranging disruptions, such as severe weather:

In the event of area-wide work disruptions, agencies should avoid independent action because changes in the commuting hours of Federal employees can result in dramatic disruption of the highway and mass transit systems.  Following OPM’s announcements and policies will allow for coordination with municipal and regional officials, and will reduce disruption of the highway and transit systems.  This will both reduce traffic congestion and ensure that affected employees are treated as consistently as possible.

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Ian Smith is one of the co-founders of FedSmith.com. He enjoys writing about current topics that affect the federal workforce. Ian also has a background in web development and does the technical work for the FedSmith.com web site and its sibling sites.

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  1. sulphide says:

    Why should teleworkers be required to work when their peers are not? For the “priviledge” of teleworking? Teleworking is part of management’s plan of continuing operation but they are selling it as a “priviledge.” Kind of like Tom Sawyer getting someone else to paint the fence.  
    There are situations with my Agency where I must telework, not on my scheduled day, for straight time while the office is closed and my peers get paid straight time for staying home and doing nothing. Sooner or later this is going to result in a lawsuit just as it did when our Agency excluded us from paying time and a half for overtime. After years of getting away with it, they ended up complying and paying us all a settlement. 

  2. HR oldie says:

    Let’s see …. Berry’s goals: ( 1) predecisional involvement and collective bargaining; and (2) uniformity.  Perfect mis-match.

  3. Tis True says:

    I agree! Among those of us that have telework agreements already in place, only 1 or 2 will be allowed to work from home in inclement weather. The policy should be consistent across the board to eliminate the favoritism already in place. Currently, we are required to work in the office 3 days a week in order to work at home one day. Meaning if we are on leave – sick or vacation for more than one day in the week, we are not allowed to work at home that week while a select few can work from home for weeks or months at a time after surgery. 

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