Instruction 990-1.2: Telework Policy

Issue Date: November 18, 2011

Material Transmitted:

Department of Health and Human Services Telework Program Policy, dated October 13, 2011.

Material Superseded:

Department of Health and Human Services Telework Program Policy, dated September 19, 2011.


The previous Instruction has been deleted in its entirety and is superseded by the Department of Health and Human Services Telework Program Policy, dated October 13, 2011. The Telework Program Policy reflects the requirements in the Telework Enhancement Act of 2010, which provides agencies greater flexibility in managing their workforce, and in the Homeland Security Presidential Directive-12 (dated August 27, 2004) and Office of Management and Budget Memorandum M-11-11 (dated February 3, 2011), which mandate comprehensive agency information security controls. This Policy is designed to improve employee work/life balance, reduce traffic congestion and emissions, save taxpayer dollars by decreasing Government real estate costs, ensure continuity of essential Government functions in the event of an emergency, and safeguard Government information technology systems.

This issuance is effective immediately. Implementation under this issuance must be carried out in accordance with applicable laws, regulations, bargaining agreements, and Departmental policy.

Denise L. Wells
Deputy Assistant Secretary for Human Resources
Department of Health and Human Services

Table of Contents

  1. Background
  2. Purpose
  3. Coverage
  4. Delegations of Authority
  5. Labor Management Relations
  6. Definitions
  7. Eligibility Criteria for Program Participation and Termination
  8. Unscheduled Telework
  9. Telecenters
  10. Hoteling
  11. Telework Managing Officer
  12. OPDIV /STAFFDIV Responsibilities
  13. Employee Responsibilities
  14. Reporting
  15. Telework Agreement Form
  16. Effective Date


  1. Public Law No.1 06-346, Section 359, dated October 23, 2000
  2. Office of Personnel Management (OPM) Memorandum dated February 9, 2001, Establishing Telecommuting Policies
  3. Public Law No. 111-292, H.R. 1722, Telework Enhancement Act of2010
  4. Office of Personnel Management Memorandum dated December 13,2010
  5. Office of Personnel Management 2011 Guide to Telework in the Federal Government
  6. Publication CA-810 Revised January 1999, Injury Compensation for Federal Employees, U.S. Department of Labor Employment Standards Administration, Office of Workers' Compensation Programs
  7. Telework Agreement Form (Appendix I)
  8. Telework Training Resources
  9. HHS-OCIO Policy for Information Systems Security and Privacy Handbook, dated July 7, 2011
  10. Homeland Security Presidential Directive-12, "Policies for a Common Identification Standard for Federal Employees and Contractors," dated August 27, 20041
  11. Office of Management and Budget Memorandum M-11-11, "Continued Implementation of Homeland Security Presidential Directive (HSPD) 12 – Policy for a Common Identification Standard for Federal Employees and Contractors," dated February 3, 20112

A. Background

Advances in telecommunications, the rising cost of office space, air pollution, traffic congestion, employee interest in work/life balance and other factors have increased interest in Telework arrangements. Telework is a practical solution to these modem workplace challenges.

The Office of Personnel Management provides guidance and regulations that govern agency Telework programs. The earliest OPM guidance instructs Federal agencies to: Establish and/or review Telework policies to reduce and eliminate barriers inhibiting the use of Telework; establish eligibility criteria; allow employees, subject to any applicable agency policies or bargaining obligations, to Telework if they meet the criteria and want to participate; and, increase overall program participation.3

Ten years later, the Telework Enhancement Act of 20104 was passed, which provides agencies greater flexibility in managing their workforce. The Act also "provides a framework for agencies to better leverage technology and to maximize the use of flexible work arrangements, which will aid in recruiting new Federal workers, retain valuable talent and allow the Federal government to maintain productivity in various situations -- including those involving national security and other emergency situations" according to OPM Director John Berry in a December 2010 memorandum.5 In the memorandum, OPM instructs agencies to: Establish a policy under which employees may be authorized to Telework to the maximum extent possible without diminishing employee performance or Agency operations; determine employee eligibility for Telework participation; and, notify employees of their eligibility to Telework.6

Application of this guidance should be consistent with the provisions of applicable bargaining obligations. Any implementing guidance developed by HHS Operating and Staff Divisions (OPDIVs/STAFFDIVs) must comply with this policy, as well as the law from which it is derived. This guidance supersedes all previous versions of policies and guidance pertaining to the requirements contained herein.

B. Purpose

This policy provides guidelines for carrying out the requirements of Section 359 of Public Laws 106-346 and 111-292, cited above. These guidelines apply to Telework programs in HHS and further establish a policy under which employees may be authorized to Telework. The Department actively promotes Telework as a legitimate flexibility for managers and employees throughout HHS. However, Telework is not a guaranteed right for all employees. Federal law requires agencies to establish Telework programs, but does not give individual employees a legal right to Telework. Employee participation in Telework is voluntary and must be approved on a case-by-case basis by supervisors.

In addition, the purpose of this policy is to promote HHS as an employer of choice and enhance the Department's efforts to employ and accommodate people with disabilities. This includes employees who have temporary or continuing health problems, or who might otherwise have to retire on disability.

C. Coverage

This policy applies to all HHS employees except for the Public Health Service Commissioned Corps personnel. Commissioned Corps personnel should refer to HHS Commissioned Personnel Manual 23.5 Instruction 10 for guidance.

D. Delegations of Authority

The authority to establish and maintain Telework programs is delegated to OPDIV/STAFFDIV Heads, who may redelegate without restriction. We encourage delegation of approval authority for individual employee Telework arrangements to first-line supervisors, as they are usually in the best position to determine eligibility and monitor results. Employees covered by a collective bargaining agreement may be subject to additional procedures, which may supersede or supplement those described in this policy.

E. Labor-Management Relations

Implementation of this guidance must be carried out in accordance with applicable laws, regulations, bargaining agreements and HHS policy.

F. Definitions

  1. Telework (also referred to as "flexiplace," "work-at-home," "flexible workplace," and "telecommuting") - Performing work at a place other than the employee's Official Duty Station (ODS) in accordance with the terms of an employee-employer agreement.
  2. Official Duty Station (ODS) - The current work location (city, town, state) where the employee regularly performs his/her duties. Telecommuting does not change the Official Duty Station unless an employee is on a 100% Telework agreement.

    A Teleworker's ODS would remain unchanged as long as the employee returns to his/her office at least two work days per pay period on a regular and recurring basis. If the employee does not report to his/her ODS at least twice per pay period and is not on a short-term, temporary agreement of 6 months or less, the ODS must be changed to the location of the Alternate Duty Station (ADS). An individual's locality pay rate is then adjusted to his/her ADS location if it is different from his/her ODS pay rate. Supervisor must ensure the employee is aware of any impact to payor benefits that may result from the change of duty station.
  3. Alternate Duty Station (ADS) - A specific area within an employee's residence, at a telecommuting center, or at another approved location other than the ODS.
  4. Regular, Recurring or Scheduled Telework - Teleworking on a regularly scheduled basis for a period of several months or longer. Reasons for initiating regular Telework agreements may include: enhancing mission accomplishment, improving service to clients, improving productivity, attracting and retaining high-quality employees in key occupations, reducing office space and associated costs, improving access to Federal employment for the disabled, assuring reasonable accommodation for disabled employees, and reducing commuting distance.
  5. Episodic Telework - Work performed at the ADS without a regular schedule. Some examples where ad hoc, situational or episodic Telework may be appropriate include: completing discrete portions of projects or work assignments, recovering from an injury or illness, during office renovation, and receiving reasonable accommodation. This list is not all-inclusive. All episodic situations must be approved by management in advance.
  6. Unscheduled Telework - A specific form of situational or ad hoc Telework where unique circumstances did not allow for advanced scheduling.
  7. Hoteling - Shared office space in an agency location designed for use on a drop-in basis by Teleworkers. The space is equipped with standard office technology including phone, computer (or docking station), fax machine, printer, copier, e-mail, Internet access, etc. Employees either reserve space in advance or drop in to use a work space as needed.
  8. Telecenter - A facility equipped with computers, printers, phones, fax and copy machines that is available for the use of Teleworkers.

G. Eligibility Criteria for Program Participation and Termination

Participation in Telework programs is not an entitlement but should be based upon sound business and performance management principles. When developing Telework guidance, OPDIV s/STAFFDIV s must establish a policy under which eligible employees may be authorized to Telework; determine eligibility criteria for program participation and termination; notify all employees of their eligibility to Telework; and require training for managers and employees prior to starting a Telework arrangement. The Agency Head has the right to excuse the training requirement for employees who were Teleworking under an agreement prior to December 10, 2010. It is recommended that OPDIVs/STAFFDIVs provide exempted employees (i.e., employees on a Telework agreement prior to December 10, 2010) with updated information related to the Act. All other employees must receive an initial, one-time training prior to beginning Telework.

In addition to Telework training, a written agreement between a manager and employee outlining the specific work arrangement is required. This agreement is mandatory regardless of the type of Telework (regular, episodic, etc.). A sample Telework Agreement Form in provided with this package.

OPDIV s/STAFFDIV s must establish the following eligibility criteria:

  1. The employee's work (or the portion to be performed at the Alternate Duty Station) must be portable. Employees must be able to reasonably complete their assignments without visiting the Official Duty Station.
  2. The supervisor must be able to evaluate the quantity and quality of the employee's work performed at the ADS.
  3. The employee's most recent performance rating of record must be at the fully successful level or above.
  4. The employee must not be on a performance improvement plan.
  5. If at any time an employee's performance is not maintained at the fully successful level or better, the employee-employer Telework agreement must be terminated.
  6. The employee's work schedule and work requirements must be included as determining factors in Telework participation eligibility.
  7. The employee must not require face-to-face supervision in order to Telework.
  8. The employee must not require frequent face-to-face interaction and collaboration with customers or peers on a daily basis for the portion of work that will be completed off site.
  9. The employee must be in compliance with current Office of the Secretary Information Security policies and procedures, including Section 2.16, "Telework," of the HHS-OCIO Policy for Information Systems Security and Privacy Handbook, dated July 7, 2011, which requires employees to have and utilize a government-furnished workstation (i.e., laptop or desktop), provided by the OPDIV/STAFFDIV, and a valid virtual private network (VPN) account in order to perform work at the ADS. A personal digital assistant (PDA), such as a BlackBerry, is not an acceptable substitute for a government-furnished workstation.  This requirement supersedes all other prior direction and arrangements.
  10.  The employee's absence from the ODS must not unduly interrupt office operations.
  11. Individual employee participation will be decided by the supervisor on a case-by-case basis.
  12. If an employee's request to participate in the Telework program is denied, management will provide written notice to the employee explaining the reasons for the denial.
  13. If the employee has been officially disciplined for being absent without permission for more than 5 days in any calendar year, they may not be authorized to Telework.
  14. An employee may not be authorized to Telework if the employee has been officially disciplined for violations of subpart G of the Standards of Ethical Conduct for Employees of the Executive Branch. These are violations for viewing, downloading, or exchanging pornography, including child pornography, on a Federal Government computer or while performing official Federal Government duties.
  15. An employee must have adequate dependent care arrangements while Teleworking.
  16. Management reserves the right to inspect an ADS for suitability for Teleworking.
  17. Supervisors can alter an employee's schedule under special circumstances (e.g. meetings, etc.). A new agreement is not required every time this happens, but the supervisor should inform the employee in writing. If the change will occur over a number of pay periods a new agreement should be entered into.

H. Unscheduled Telework

Unscheduled Telework is a new option for employees to Telework under certain dire circumstances. Unscheduled Telework may be approved during emergency situations, severe weather conditions, natural disasters, and other circumstances which prevent employees from commuting to their ODS. Unscheduled Telework provides the flexibility to help maintain the productivity of the Agency, while continuing to provide service to customers and ensuring the safety of employees.

To the broadest extent possible, Telework should be incorporated into emergency preparedness operations. Telework will be considered for situational, episodic events such as inclement weather and short term emergency situations involving national security, extended emergencies or other unique situations. For instances in which the Agency has advance notice of a potential, future episodic event, such as inclement weather, authorized Telework employees who have government-furnished laptops and who are scheduled to work on the day during which inclement weather is anticipated will be expected to take home their government-furnished laptop prior to the date on which inclement weather is anticipated.  In conjunction with Washington, D.C. Area Dismissal and Closure Procedures and the Federal Executive Board (FEB), employees who wish to Telework during unscheduled leave, delayed arrival or Federal office closure, must do so with approval from their immediate supervisor or manager. A valid Telework agreement must be approved and on file for the employee. Exceptions may be made based on OPDIV/STAFFDIV policies. During an early departure authorization issued by OPM, a HHS official, or FEB, authorized Telework employees may depart prior to the scheduled early departure time. As long as employees make up the time later in the day from their ADS, they will not be charged annual leave.

When Federal offices are closed to the public, a Telework employee whose regularly scheduled Telework day occurs on the day of an emergency closure is still required to work or request leave (unless otherwise determined by OPDIV/STAFFDIV policy).

Telework and Emergency Employees
In an effort to continue providing customer service and meet mission responsibilities, the Telework Enhancement Act of 2010 requires agencies to integrate Telework into their Continuity of Operations Plans (COOP). Telework employees are expected to work on days that they are regularly scheduled to Telework when the Federal Government has announced unscheduled leave, unscheduled telework, delayed arrival, early departures, or Federal offices are closed to the public. Any requirement that a Telework employee continue to work if Federal offices are closed to the public (or during delayed arrivals and early dismissals) on a Telework day or ODS workday is subject to collective bargaining agreements.

I. Telecenters

OPDIVs/STAFFDIVs shall establish guidelines for using telecenters. A list of telecenters and their locations is available on OPM's website. Payment for use of these telecenters is at the discretion of the Agency.

J. Hoteling

Working with the HHS Office of Facilities Management and Policy, the Office of Information Resources Management, and Information Systems Security Officers, OPDIVs/STAFFDIVs may develop appropriate policy guidelines to incorporate hoteling. The policy should address issues related to reserving office space and managing equipment sharing.

K. Telework Managing Officer

The Telework Enhancement Act requires each agency to designate a Telework Managing Officer (TMO). The TMO must be a senior official of the Department who has direct access to the head of the Department. The TMO will help the Department incorporate Telework into everyday business operations. The TMO is responsible for:

  1. Policy development and implementation related to Department Telework programs.
  2. Serving as an advisor for Department leadership, including the Chief Human Capital Officer (CHCO).
  3. Serving as a resource for managers and employees on Telework.
  4. Serving as the primary point of contact with OPM on Telework.

The TMO, who is designated within the Office of Human Resources, assumes the duty of gathering information on Telework from various internal sources and reporting findings to OPM. The TMO's duties extend beyond the operational day-to-day aspects of Telework, including policy development and advising management of the Department's entire Telework program. OPDIVs and STAFFDIVs are responsible for providing information and data to the TMO when requested.

L. OPDIV/STAFFDIV Responsibilities

The following responsibilities are delegated to the OPDIV/STAFFDIV:

  1. The Department continues to be responsible for service and maintenance of government-owned equipment. OPDIVs/STAFFDIVs must establish written guidance outlining what support, materials, and equipment the Organization may provide for Teleworkers; what the Organization will not provide; and what responsibilities are shared between Organization and Teleworker.
    1. Employees must use a government-furnished workstation (i.e., laptop or desktop) and VPN access to remotely connect to all government systems.  A personal digital assistant (PDA) is not an acceptable substitute for a government-furnished workstation.
    2. Telework requirements include reimbursement for business-related long distance phone calls over the employee's personal phone. These calls must be approved by the supervisor, as required by the General Services Administration (GSA) regulations.7
  2. Using OPM and GSA guidelines, review and identify positions that lend themselves to Telework, as well as those that do not.
    1. Approve and disapprove employee Telework participation requests and terminate program participation, when necessary, due to performance issues or other reasons as stated in the OPDIV/STAFFDIV Telework guidance. Reconsideration requests should be submitted in accordance with OPDIV/STAFFDIV policy and collective bargaining agreements.
  3. Ensure training is provided to employees eligible to participate in Telework and all managers of Teleworkers. Training must include applicable portions of the Military Personnel and Civilian Employees Claims Act, the Federal Tort Claims Act, and the Federal Employees Compensation Act (FECA) for services performed at home.8 Training is available through the HHS University Learning Management System (LMS). In addition, Telework training for managers and Telework training for employees is available on OPM's website. Telework training must be completed before an employee enters into a written agreement to Telework.
  4. Maintain signed copies of Telework agreements (electronic or hard copy) and other records required for program evaluation and reporting, such as Telework participation rates, use of telecenters, etc.
  5. Consult with the OPDIV /STAFFDIV Information System Security Officer to ensure:
    1. Requirements of Section 2.16, "Telework," of the HHS-OCIO Policy for Information Systems Security and Privacy Handbook, dated July 7, 2011, are incorporated into Telework access briefings and training programs.
    2. HHS Chief Information Security Officer is promptly notified of computer security incidents (or suspected incidents) resulting from remote access.
    3. Security procedures for LAN access, and policies on computer equipment, maintenance and software for the ADS are included in the Telework agreement.
  6. Evaluate employee performance for Teleworkers and non-Teleworkers using the same performance management program.
  7. Ensure Teleworkers receive the same treatment and opportunities as non-Teleworkers (e.g., work assignments, awards and recognition, development opportunities, etc.)
  8. Designate a Telework coordinator to serve as the point of contact for questions on the Telework guidance.
  9. Review Telework agreements at regular intervals.

M. Employee Responsibilities

  1. Participation - The employee must request to participate in the Telework program. The employee may also request to end participation, without cause, at any time. All requests must be in writing.
  2. Mission Critical Designation - As part of an OPDIV/STAFFDIV's Continuity of Operations Plan (COOP), Teleworkers may be designated as mission critical employees. In the event of the activation of a COOP, mission critical employees may be required to report to their official duty station.
  3. Notice to Employer - The employee will promptly inform the employer whenever problems arise that adversely affect his/her ability to perform work at the ADS.
  4. Work Schedule - The employee must be available upon reasonable notice (generally a day in advance, if feasible) to come to the ODS whenever the need arises for meetings, travel, training, etc.
  5. Work Activities - The employee will not engage in any non-governmental activities while in official duty status at the ADS. This includes child care, elder care or the conduct of personal business. Employees must abide by all of the same policies, rules, laws and regulations as employees who do not Telework.
  6. Leave - The employee will follow established leave policies at the ADS as though he/she were at the ODS.
  7. Telephone - The employee agrees to maintain a telephone line or cell phone during business hours where he/she is accessible at the ADS.
  8. Conduct - The Employee shall adhere to the Standards of Conduct for Executive Branch Employees and to supplemental standards, as issued, while working at the ADS. During the hours the employee is on duty at the ADS, he/she must be accessible by telephone and/or e-mail at all times.
  9. Equipment Use - The employee must ensure that all government-owned equipment is used only for authorized purposes.  Additionally, the employee shall ensure that he or she uses a government-furnished workstation and a VPN account to access all government systems.
  10. Information Security Controls - All employees must adhere to current Office of the Secretary Information Security policies and procedures, including Section 2.16, "Telework," of the HHS-OCIO Policy for Information Systems Security and Privacy Handbook, dated July 7, 2011, when remotely connecting to the various HHS networks and systems. Every effort must be made to protect the data, networks and systems, whether working on-site or at an ADS.
  11. Security - The employee will follow standard security procedures when removing official records from the ODS. Unless agency Information Risk Management security officials certify that the system adequately protects records and that off-site use conforms to applicable laws or policies, classified or sensitive data must not be accessible from off-site locations.
  12. Safety - The employee will read, certify and sign such safety checklists as may be required by the OPDIV/STAFFDIV. Federal agencies and staff are responsible for the security of Federal Government property, information, and information systems. Telework does not change this responsibility. Teleworking employees are subject to the same Federal Employee's Compensation Act (FECA) coverage as non-Teleworking employees.
  13. Liability - The employee will be liable for damage to any government-supplied property, including equipment at the alternate work station, in the same way the employee is liable at the ODS. HHS will not be liable for damages to an employee's personal or real property during the course of performance of official duties or while HHS equipment is in use at the employee's residence, except to the extent HHS is held liable by the Federal Tort Claims Act, the Military Personnel and Civilian Employees Claims Act or the Federal Employees Compensation Act (workers' compensation).
  14. Costs - Generally, the government will be responsible for the service and maintenance of government-owned equipment. The employee is responsible for all operating costs, home maintenance and any other incidental costs (e.g., utilities) associated with the use of the home for business purposes.

N. Reporting

Each OPDIV shall maintain records related to the administration of their Telework program, which includes:

  1. The total number of employees in each OPDIV /STAFFDIV participating in the program
  2. The number and percentage of employees who are eligible to Telework
  3. The number and percentage of eligible employees who Telework and the number of days per pay period
  4. The method of gathering data
  5. The reasons for positive or negative participation variation as it relates to overall Agency goals
  6. An explanation of whether or not the OPDIV/STAFFDIV met goals; and if not, what actions are being taken to identify and eliminate barriers to maximizing Telework opportunities
  7. An assessment of progress in reaching Telework participation rates and other goals relating to Telework, such as the impact of Telework on:
    1. Emergency readiness
    2. Energy use
    3. Recruitment and retention
    4. Performance productivity
    5. Employee attitudes and opinions regarding Telework
  8. Best practices in OPDIV/STAFFDIV Telework programs

O. Telework Agreement Form

Telework Agreement form attached as Appendix 1.

P. Effective Date

This issuance is effective immediately.



1 Available at:

2 Available at:

3 1 Public Law No. 106-346, Section 359, dated October 23,2000 (Appendix 1), as interpreted by the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) in a memorandum dated February 9, 2001 (Appendix 2)

4 The Telework Enhancement Act of 2010 (Public Law No. 111-292) was passed on December 9, 2010

5 Section 6501 of Public Law No. 111-292, as interpreted by OPM in a memorandum dated December 13,2010

6 Section 6501 of Public Law No. 111-292, as interpreted by OPM in a memorandum dated December 13, 2010

7 Publication CA-810 Revised January 1999, Injury Compensation for Federal Employees, U.S. Department of Labor Employment Standards Administration, Office of Workers' Compensation Programs

8 41 CFR 101.7

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