Date: June 9, 2008
House Passes H.R. 4106, the Telework Improvements Act of 2008
On June 3, 2008, the House passed H.R. 4106, the Telework Improvements Act of 2008, by voice vote. The bill would require Federal agencies to establish and implement policies regarding teleworking.
The bill contains the following provisions of interest to SSA:
Government-wide Teleworking Requirement
• Would require the head of each executive agency, including SSA, to establish a teleworking policy within 180 days of enactment under which employees would be authorized to telework. Those policies would have to conform to regulations issued by the General Services Administration (GSA), in consultation with the Office of Personnel Management, within 120 days of enactment.
• Would provide that teleworking policies would have to ensure that employees who are allowed to telework could do so to the fullest extent possible, but without diminishing employee performance or agency operations.
• Would provide that the teleworking requirement would not require agencies to authorize teleworking for employees who require daily access to classified material, who require daily face-to-face contact with the public or other persons or the use of equipment that is only at the regular place of employment, or if conducting their duties at an alternate worksite is not feasible.
• Would clarify that the teleworking requirement would not prevent the temporary denial of teleworking if the employee is needed to respond to emergencies, if additional training is required, or if a denial is needed for a period of time in order to achieve the agency or department's goals.
• Would provide that no employee would be required to telework.
• Would require each agency to make sure that appropriate training is given to supervisors and managers and all employees who are authorized to telework.
• Would require each agency not to differentiate between teleworkers and non-teleworkers for the purposes of performance appraisals.
Telework Managing Officer
• Would permit each agency to appoint a Telework Managing Officer, who would serve as an advisor on teleworking to the head of the agency and the agency's chief human capital officer. The Telework Managing Officer would also serve as a teleworking resource for managers, supervisors, and employees, and as the primary point of contact on teleworking issues for employees, Congress, and other agencies.
Annual Telework Agence Evaluation
• Would require GAO to establish a system for evaluating the teleworking policy for each agency and employee participation in telework programs at each agency and to submit to Congress an evaluation report on each agency's performance. GAO would prepare an evaluation report for each agency for the year in which the GSA regulations take effect and for each of the succeeding 4 years.
• GAO would evaluate agencies on a number of factors, including the percentage of employees eligible (and not eligible) to telework. An agency would be considered not to be in compliance with the requirements of teleworking established by this bill unless the employees of such agency who were authorized to telework were permitted to telework at least 20 percent of the hours that they worked in every 2 work weeks.
Continuity of Operations
• Would require the head of each agency to ensure that, to the extent practicable, telework is incorporated into their continuity of operations plans.
• Would also require agency heads to ensure that “mission critical” personnel are equipped to telework in the event of a catastrophe.
• Would be effective upon enactment.