Effective Date: September 23, 2019
Expiration Date: September 23, 2029
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6.1.1 This chapter provides procedural requirements for the request and approval of a remote work arrangement that allows an employee to perform work at an approved alternative location (i.e., employee's residence) on a long term basis. The employee's official PDS is the location of the remote work site.
6.1.2 Although remote workers are not technically considered teleworkers, they administratively fall under the Agency telework program. Telework requirements in this directive, including eligibility, employee requests, training, equipment, agreements, and reporting apply to remote workers. Participation is voluntary and subject to supervisory approval based on the needs of the organization to perform its mission effectively and efficiently.
6.1.3 Remote work may be authorized to help organizations recruit new employees with hard-to-find skill-sets in the local commuting area or to retain current employees who may otherwise leave the Agency due to relocation. For recruit actions, the authorization of remote work will be clearly stated in the vacancy announcement.
6.1.4 Employees on approved remote work agreements are expected to work during a weather/safety event affecting the employing organization. The employee may be approved for weather/safety leave only if the supervisor determines that a weather/safety event directly impacts the employee's ability to perform work at the approved alternate worksite.
6.1.5 This chapter does not cover employees on a telework agreement that have been approved to telework full time under a temporary exception in accordance with section 5.2 of this directive.
6.1.6 Remote work shall only occur within the United States and its territories.
6.1.7 The next step is to perform a cost analysis by determining the direct cost and/or savings of a remote work arrangement outside the commuting area. The local commuting area is defined in 5 CFR 550.703 as an area in which employees live and can reasonably be expected to travel back and forth to work on a daily basis. The Servicing Human Resources (HR) office is responsible for coordinating with the Office of the Chief Finance Office and the Center Office of the Chief Counsel or the Office of General Counsel (for Headquarters personnel), to determine the local commuting area.
When considering approval of a remote work arrangement, management should be aware that required relocation costs are likely to be much greater than the cost of occasional trips back to the regular worksite. Therefore, unless there is a major problem with the remote work arrangement, such as the employee no longer meets eligibility requirements, management should ensure to the best of their ability that the arrangement is beneficial to all parties prior to approving the remote work arrangement because it will be expensive and disruptive to terminate.
6.3.1 Approval of remote work for a current Agency employee requires a documented change in the employee's official PDS, which may impact the employee in a number of ways, including pay, travel reimbursement, Reduction-in-Force competitive area, and unemployment compensation.
6.3.2 The supervisor shall document the change by submitting a request for personnel action to change the employee's PDS to be effective at the beginning of the pay period when the employee is approved to start work at the new permanent duty location. The personnel action may reflect a change in duty station; however, when an employee moves to a PDS that causes a locality pay change, a pay adjustment is required in accordance with the OPM Guide to Processing Personnel Actions.
6.4.1 The employee's official worksite or PDS is the official location of the employee's position of record as stated on the employee's SF-50. Supervisors considering remote work locations for their employees need to take into consideration budget implications based on how often the employee will need to physically report to the regular (i.e., organization's) worksite.
6.4.2 Travel costs for remote workers traveling back and forth to the regular worksite will be reimbursed in accordance with NPR 9710.1. Additionally, if management decides to relocate the employee back to the regular worksite, the employee is entitled to a Government reimbursed move based on a management-directed reassignment. For example, if the employee's regular worksite is in Washington, DC, and the remote PDS is in Boston, MA, the employee is entitled to receive travel and/or relocation benefits when required to travel back to Washington, DC, or relocate to the DC worksite permanently.
6.4.3 Remote work is a voluntary program; relocation expenses to the alternative worksite are not authorized. If an employee voluntarily moves back to the regular worksite, a Government reimbursed move is not authorized.
6.4.4 When considering employees for remote work, supervisors will complete a cost and benefit analysis that includes cost of travel back to the regular worksite. The analysis should also estimate travel costs to other locations where the employee is reasonably expected to travel from their remote work location as compared to travel costs from the organization's location.
6.5.1 Employees should initiate a request to their supervisor at least 60 days prior to the desired effective date of a remote work arrangement.
6.5.2 When deciding on whether or not to support a request or to offer a remote work arrangement for recruitment purposes, supervisors need to assess each case carefully. In addition to evaluating the potential benefits that serve the best interest of the Government, the supervisor needs to consider potential costs and pitfalls to approving a remote work arrangement on a permanent basis.
6.5.3 To begin the assessment process, supervisors will review the job duties to determine if they can be successfully performed remotely and determine the business based reason to enter a remote work agreement. For example, will it result in retaining an employee who would otherwise leave the Agency. Supervisors should also consider whether or not approval of a remote work arrangement negatively impacts the work/mission of the organization or other employees currently assigned to the organization.
6.5.4 At a minimum, the documented cost assessment should include the following data:
a. Estimated annual travel costs to and from the remote worksite to the regular (i.e., organization's) worksite.
b. Any change in salary based on the pay locale of the remote worksite.
c. Any additional expenses associated with IT services, software, and/or hardware to support the remote work arrangement.
d. Document the benefits of the work arrangement that provide evidence that approval of remote work will either result in cost savings or outweigh any additional costs to the Agency's budget.
6.6.1 First-level supervisors may support or deny a request for remote work. Requests that are supported by the supervisor shall be coordinated with HR and approved by a higher level management official.
6.6.2 Centers, Headquarters Organizations, and Mission Support Enterprise Organizations have discretion in determining the final approval level. The approving official will be at least one level above the first level supervisor and documented on the remote work agreement.
6.7.1 Once a remote work agreement is approved, a subsequent management decision to discontinue or terminate the work arrangement that requires the employee to relocate to the organization's worksite (i.e., a management-directed reassignment outside of the commuting area) will be coordinated with HR and the OCC (OGC for Headquarters) to ensure all statutory and regulatory requirements are met.
6.7.2 A management-directed reassignment entitles the employee to a government reimbursed move, unless:
a. The remote work arrangement is temporary in nature in accordance with section 5.2 of this directive.
b. The remote work arrangement is terminated at the request of the employee. This is considered an employee voluntary action.
c. When the work arrangement has directly contributed to a performance issue.
6.7.3 If an employee declines to relocate to the organization's location, management may propose the employee's removal from Federal service for failure to accept a management-directed reassignment in accordance with applicable regulations.
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