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Article 12 Telework
Updated On: May 12, 2014

Article 12

Telework

Section 1. Purpose

DOL Management and Local 12 jointly recognize the mutual benefits of a flexible

workplace program to the Department and its employees. In recognizing this

benefit, both parties also acknowledge the needs of the DOL to accomplish its

mission without diminishing employee performance or the operations of the

Agency. Participation in the telework program must be consistent with mission

accomplishment and customer service.

The benefits of telework include recruiting new workers, retaining valuable talent,

allowing the Federal government to maintain productivity in various situations,

balancing work and family responsibilities, providing reasonable accommodation

for disabled employees, realizing cost savings to the Government, and meeting

environmental, financial, and commuting concerns. In addition, telework helps

maintain Continuity of Government Operations (COOP) and continued productivity

during emergency situations (e.g., public health emergencies, localized acts of

nature, accidents, etc.).

Public Law 111-292 requires Agencies to have telework programs, but nothing in

that statute or in this Agreement gives individual employees a right to telework.

The parties agree that working a telework schedule is a privilege rather than a

right. Throughout this Agreement, the words telework and flexiplace are used

interchangeably to refer to a voluntary program that permits employees to work at

home or at other approved sites away from the office for all or part of the

workweek. This does not bar Management from requiring employees whose

positions have been identified as mission critical under COOP or other emergency

situations from working at an alternate site as permitted by law, rule or regulation.

Provisions of this Article that conflict with any future law or regulation must be

brought into compliance with such requirements.

Section 2. Types of Arrangements: Informal and Formal

Formal arrangements are regular and recurring in nature and include working at

home, telecommuting centers, or other sites approved by the supervisor. Formal

arrangements require a written agreement between the supervisor and the

employee. It is agreed that probationary employees are not eligible for formal

telework plans.

Informal arrangements are ad hoc or episodic in nature for short periods of time

not to exceed sixty (60) aggregate days in a twelve (12) month period. These

situational arrangements, which are reached between the supervisor and

employee, are not regular or recurring, are not expected to continue on a longterm

basis, and require a written agreement. Such arrangements will normally take

one (1) day or less, but could last longer if a project or work assignment

necessitates more time. Informal arrangements may be used as trial periods to

determine the practicality of formal arrangements. Probationary employees are

eligible for episodic or ad hoc telework plans, and thereby, are eligible to work

unscheduled telework when authorized by OPM if they are participating in such a

plan and to the extent technology and work load permits.

Section 3. Eligibility

a. Consistent with the parties’ goals of fostering a family-friendly workplace, all

employees are eligible to participate in the telework program, except for

employees whose duties and responsibilities include:

(1) required daily access to classified/secured or sensitive information

which cannot be transported or accessed remotely;

(2) required daily in-person contact with members of the public or the

use of equipment at the main worksite; or

(3) performance that is otherwise infeasible away from the employee’s

regular place of employment.

b. Furthermore, an employee is not eligible to telework if, in the previous three

(3) years, the employee has been officially disciplined for being absent

without permission for more than five (5) days in any calendar year, or for

violation of subpart G of the Standards of Ethical Conduct for Employees of

the Federal Branch, for viewing, downloading, or exchanging pornography,

including child pornography, on a Federal Government computer or while

performing official Federal Government duties.

Within ninety (90) days of the effective date of this Agreement,

Management will review all Local 12 bargaining unit positions and identify

those that are not eligible for telework. Results of this review will be shared

with the Telework Committee and Local 12.

c. For those employees determined eligible to participate, the following criteria

must be met:

(1) A sufficient amount of the employee’s essential functions can be

performed at an alternate worksite. It is understood that the

accomplishment of the Agency’s mission is paramount. While

supervisors and managers are encouraged to be progressive in

regard to reengineering or restructuring how their offices operate or

the manner in which they assign work, there is no contractual

obligation or requirement on Management to do so to accommodate

an employee’s request to participate in telework.

(2) The employee will be available and accessible to supervisors,

coworkers, and customers at all times while performing work at an

alternate worksite.

(3) The employee’s most recent performance evaluation is at least

Effective.

(4) There is no conduct problem that has been the subject of an Agency

Decision within the previous twelve (12) months that would cause

Management to be concerned about the employee’s trustworthiness

or dependability.

(5) Costs of such an arrangement are feasible. The parties recognize that

costs or cost savings in technology, equipment and

telecommunications are considerations in decisions regarding

participation in telework arrangements. While it is expected that

telework may require some costs, the costs involved may be too

much for the Agency to finance. The parties anticipate that denials

based upon financial considerations will be the exception and not the

rule.

(6) Technology/equipment needs: The parties recognize that existing

and evolving technology(ies) may allow or prevent an employee from

participating in the Telework Program. The employee may need

access to specific equipment and/or technology on telework days.

Such equipment/technology may include:

* Telephone access, including long distance

* Computer and/or printer assigned to the employee’s home

* Computer hardware/software

* Modem and possible additional computer access

* Modifications to the central computer to allow employees to

connect

* Equipment maintenance and repair

* Remote technical assistance

* Replacement of damaged or lost equipment

* Fax capability

* Internet service provider

(7) Any required telework training is completed before the Telework

Agreement is signed.

d. The Department agrees that there will not be any discrimination against, or

disparate treatment toward, any employee with respect to the applicability

of any of the criteria set forth above.

Section 4. Coverage of Office Functions

a. Management will continue to have responsibility for seeing that the mission

of the Department is carried out. Each office will determine adequate

coverage during official hours for the purpose of assuring that the functions

of the office and mission of the Department are fulfilled. Some examples of

the principal forms of coverage are:

(1) Having phones answered;

(2) Providing clerical, technical, and professional support;

(3) Providing office representation at essential meetings;

(4) Handling inquiries from the public; or

(5) Providing program needs based on business necessity.

b. When coverage requirements are established for any given function, all

employees with such responsibilities are obliged to meet coverage

requirements. The determination of who will work which particular hours to

ensure such coverage is within the authority of the supervisor. Determining

office coverage involves both the office worksite and the telework site.

Where practicable, personal preference will be honored in scheduling

coverage. Where personal preference conflicts with the equitable sharing of

the burden of coverage, personal preference shall give way. The

opportunity of each employee to maximize his/her telework participation

shall be consistent with the coverage of legitimate work unit functions as

determined by the supervisor.

Section 5. Time Frames

Upon receipt of a written request for formal telework, the supervisor and the

employee will meet to discuss and review the request. The supervisor’s decision is

to be provided to the employee within ten (10) workdays of the request.

a. If disapproved, the employee will be advised in writing with the reason(s). If

the disapproval subsequently becomes the subject of an arbitration, the

parties will clarify all the issues in accordance with Article 48 of this

Agreement.

b. If approved, the specifications of the arrangement will be established,

reduced to writing on a Standard Individual Telework Agreement Form, and

signed by both the supervisor and the employee. The employee will begin

working at the alternate worksite within fifteen (15) workdays days after

completion of the agreement form unless circumstances dictate otherwise.

Section 6. Operating Principles

a. In recognition of the growing importance of teleworkers in maintaining the

COOP, employees who are scheduled to telework during a building closure

or early dismissal due to inclement weather or other emergency situations

are expected to continue working unless they are excused from duty as

determined by their manager on a case-by-case basis.

On a case-by-case basis, an Agency may excuse a teleworker from duty

during an emergency situation if the emergency adversely affects the

telework site (e.g., disruption of electricity, loss of heat, etc.), if the

teleworker faces a personal hardship that prevents him or her from working

successfully at the telework site, or if the teleworker’s duties are such that

he or she cannot continue to work without contact with the regular

worksite. Factors such as travel conditions between the telework site and

home or unexpected childcare or eldercare responsibilities due to school or

center closings should be considered.

b. For employees who are approved to be on formal telework, the employee

will normally have the option to work the designated flexitime plan/schedule

of his/her organization or to opt out of flexitime. If the employee’s choice is

to opt out, then the supervisor and the employee will agree on an 8 ½ hour

tour of duty. Managers may also require employees who are approved to be

on formal telework to establish an 8 ½ hour tour of duty if the mission

and/or work of the office necessitate specific work hours.

c. The governing rules, regulations and policies concerning time and

attendance, overtime and leave are unchanged by participation in telework.

Employees will not perform overtime or night work without expressed

approval in advance.

d. Supervisors maintain full authority to assign work. This includes, but is not

limited to, assigning specific work products to be completed or requiring an

employee to provide a brief oral summary of accomplishments on telework

days.

e. Injuries that arise in the performance of duty at the alternate worksite are

subject to the Federal Employees’ Compensation Act.

f. The Government is not responsible for operating costs, home maintenance,

or any other incidental costs to the employee (e.g., utilities). Employees on

telework are entitled to reimbursement for authorized expenses while

conducting government business.

g. For employees who are approved to be on telework, the following applies

with respect to equipment:

(1) If the employee uses government equipment, the employee will use

and protect the equipment in accordance with 5 CFR 2635.704.

(2) Government-owned equipment will be serviced and maintained by

the government.

(3) If the employee uses his/her own equipment, the employee is

responsible for its service and maintenance.

(4) Employees will ordinarily be given a minimum of 24 hours advance

notice regarding management service or maintenance of

government-owned property. Such service or maintenance will occur

during the employee’s normal work hours unless circumstances

dictate otherwise.

h. Employees on telework are obligated to ensure a safe and healthy work

environment and to apply necessary safeguards to protect government

records from damage or unauthorized disclosure.

i. After the employee and supervisor have signed the Standard Individual

Telework Agreement, the employee shall be encouraged to meet with the

Local 12 Agency Vice-President or designee in order that the Union may

determine that the Standard Individual Telework Agreement is consistent with

this Contract.

j. To ensure access to bargaining unit employees participating in telework, the

Standard Individual Telework Agreement will state the employee’s name;

his/her alternate worksite address(es), including telephone number, e-mail

and/or fax number, unless prohibited by law. Management shall provide any

omitted information upon receipt. A copy of the executed Standard Individual

Telework Agreement shall be provided to the Union (N-1503) and the

Agency/Regional Telework Coordinator.

k. In circumstances where OPM authorizes the use of unscheduled telework,

those employees who are currently on a Formal Telework Plan must either

work at their alternate worksite to the extent technology and work load

permits, report to their duty station within DOL, or take unscheduled leave.

Employees currently on an Informal Telework plan and those employees who

participated in any Telework arrangement in the previous six (6) months and

who were not removed involuntarily may work at their alternate worksite if

technology and their work load permit such participation. In these

circumstances, employees should notify their supervisor(s) of their intent to

telework, whether on a scheduled or unscheduled basis, or in the alternative,

to use unscheduled leave.

Section 7. Recall

Employees participating in telework programs must be accessible and available for

recall to their regular offices for work needs that cannot be performed at the

alternate worksite. Recall examples include, but are not limited to, training, special

meetings, new work requirements, unanticipated short-term staffing shortages and

emergencies. Management will take full advantage of existing technology

(teleconference, e-mail, fax, etc.) where possible in order to minimize recall. A

recall shall last no longer than is reasonable to complete the task or purpose of the

recall. When possible, Management will provide reasonable advance notice of not

less than 24 hours for all recalls; however, depending on the circumstances there

may be times when advance notice cannot be given.

Section 8. Termination

a. Employees may voluntarily terminate participation in the telework

arrangement at any time; however, employees may be expected to continue

working at the alternate worksite for a reasonable period to allow

Management time to arrange a work station.

b. Supervisors may terminate an agreement whenever one or more of the

following conditions occur:

(1) There is a change in work requirements, or the arrangement no

longer supports the mission.

(2) The employee’s performance is less than Effective after at least

ninety (90) days.

(3) The employee has demonstrated conduct problems regarding

trustworthiness or dependability to the extent that he/she should be

removed from the program.

(4) Costs of the agreement are no longer affordable.

(5) Technology changes require return to the regular office.

(6) The employee does not comply with the terms of his/her agreement.

c. When terminating a telework arrangement, the following must occur:

(1) To the extent practicable, Management will provide at least five (5)

workdays advance notice of the termination of any agreement.

(2) The Notice of Termination must be in writing and indicate the

reason(s) for termination.

(3) When a telework arrangement is terminated, Management should

notify the appropriate Local 12 Agency Vice-President and the

Agency/Regional Telework Coordinator.

d. Removal from telework does not prevent an employee from reapplying as

soon as the required criteria are met.

Section 9. Space

Employees working a permanent flexiplace/telework schedule of three (3) or more

days a week are not entitled to a dedicated personal work station. These

employees may be required to utilize common/shared work areas as described in

Article 34. Under this concept, employees will be provided a work area that

includes a work surface, PC or docking station, phone and a locked storage area. It

is understood that these work areas are not permanently assigned to any specific

employee and are utilized as available and as needed when the employee is

required to report to the office.

Section 10. Safety

Each participating employee should sign a self-certification checklist that proclaims

the alternate worksite is safe. Management may deny an employee the opportunity

to participate in telework or may recall a telework agreement based on safety

problems at the telework site.

Section 11. Pre-existing Flexiplace/Telework Arrangements

Pre-existing Flexiplace/telework arrangements must be brought into conformance

with this Article within sixty (60) days of the effective date of this agreement,

unless they are entered into pursuant to negotiated Memorandums of

Understanding (MOUs) between the Union and a DOL Agency or subdivision.

Section 12. Grievability

Management’s decisions on participation, recall or termination of formal telework

arrangements are grievable. Decisions on informal telework arrangements are not

grievable unless the employee alleges that a decision on informal telework

arrangements is a prohibited personnel practice.

Section 13. Issue Resolution

Agency managers and Union officials are encouraged to establish creative

approaches to provide information and resolve problems regarding telework. Such

approaches could include joint task forces, joint committees, designated technical

advisors, etc. Where there are disputes over participation, recall or termination of a

formal telework arrangement, the parties encourage Agency and Union officials to

develop alternate dispute resolution methods to resolve such issues. Each DOL

Agency will designate a Telework Coordinator to whom employees and supervisors

can go for technical guidance and assistance as telework issues or problems arise.

In addition, the parties will provide joint training on this Article to the Telework

Coordinator as well as to Agency Vice-Presidents and Stewards.

Section 14. Telework Committee

There shall be a Committee at the Departmental level to oversee implementation

and evaluate the functioning of the Telework Program. This Committee may, by

mutual agreement, address individual issues or concerns. Local 12 shall appoint

one member to this Committee for each Committee member appointed by

Management. In addition, the parties shall enter into an MOU (Memorandum of

Understanding) to establish a Labor-Management Relations (LMR) Forum which

will evaluate the implementation, functioning, and the beneficial aspects of

telework, in general, and any Pilot Program(s) identified within the MOU

concerning telework.

Section 15. Standard Individual Telework Agreement

The following constitutes an agreement between the named employee and the

Agency on the terms and conditions of the individual’s participation in the DOL

Telework Program.

Telework Agreement

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