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U.S.

Office of Personnel Management Guidance on the Use of Alternative


Work Schedules During Metro’s Platform Improvement Project
Alternative Work Schedules (AWS) include both compressed and flexible work schedules. See
the Handbook on Alternative Work Schedules. A compressed work schedule is a fixed schedule
that has no flexibility. A flexible work schedule is a schedule consisting of workdays with core
hours and flexible hours. See below for additional information and examples of AWS schedules.

Things to consider:

What types of work schedule(s) does your agency currently offer employees?
Would offering additional types of work schedules on a temporary basis help your
agency accomplish its mission during the Platform Improvement Project?
What impact would implementing an AWS have on your employees?
Will you need to adjust work schedule(s) throughout the Platform Improvement Project
segments?
Will your agency want to make an AWS permanent or use it only temporarily through the
Platform Improvement Project?
What type of engagement with employee representatives may be necessary when
considering implementation of a new AWS, either on a temporary or permanent basis?

TIP: One size does not fit all. Agencies will need to make decisions on which
AWS schedules to adopt (if any) based on the impact of the Platform Improvement
Project on their agency mission and employees. It is important to remember that
each individual employee’s commuting situation will vary within your agency and
will most likely change during the Platform Improvement Project. Supervisors will
need to communicate the flexibilities and work schedule(s) that will be available to
their employees, along with their expectations for employees electing to use any
new flexibilities.

When choosing to implement or change an AWS, agencies must review any applicable
collective bargaining agreement and become familiar with applicable provisions regarding work
schedules. Bargaining unit employees may participate in a flexible or compressed work schedule
only “to the extent expressly provided under a collective bargaining agreement between the
agency and the exclusive representative.” (See 5 U.S.C. 6130(a)(2).) While an agency may
potentially expand work schedules for bargaining unit employees consistent with applicable
collective bargaining agreements and statutory collective bargaining obligations, there are a
variety of factors agencies should consider before doing so. These factors include, but are not
limited to, whether a feasibility study is needed, whether the expansion should be done on a trial
basis, and whether the agreement will permit the agency to terminate the program without
showing an “adverse agency impact” as described in 5 U.S.C. 6131.

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For further information, please see: https://www.opm.gov/policy-data-oversight/labor-
management-relations/law-policy-resources/#url=Negotiating-Flexible-and-Compressed-Work-
Schedules

Types of AWS

1. Compressed Work Schedules (CWS)

A compressed work schedule (CWS) is a fixed schedule that has no flexibility. Start and stop
times are clearly defined and leave must be taken if work is not accomplished during this period.
In the case of a full-time employee, a CWS consists of an 80-hour biweekly basic work
requirement that is scheduled by an agency for fewer than 10 workdays; and in the case of a part-
time employee, a CWS consists of a biweekly basic work requirement of fewer than 80 hours
that is scheduled by an agency for fewer than 10 workdays and that may require the employee to
work more than 8 hours in a day. (See 5 U.S.C. 6121(5).)

Components of a CWS:

Basic Work Requirement – The number of hours, excluding overtime hours, an


employee is required to work or to account for by charging leave or otherwise.

Fixed Starting and Stopping Times – The tour of duty for employees under a CWS
program is defined by a fixed schedule established by the agency.

No Flexibility – Employees have no flexibility in arrival or departure times.

CWS Example

Example—CWS

Karen is a Federal employee working in the Washington, DC, area. Karen


typically rides the Metrorail system to and from her worksite each day. Karen’s job
has a fixed work schedule of 8:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. Her agency will utilize a
compressed work schedule during the Platform Improvement Project. Karen’s
position is included in a bargaining unit. The union successfully negotiates the
implementation of a 4-10 compressed work schedule that will be available to all
bargaining unit employees throughout the duration of the Platform Improvement
Project. The parties agreed that the CWS will terminate at the conclusion of the
Platform Improvement Project, even if there is no adverse agency impact, and this
provision is included in the negotiated agreement. Karen will report to her
worksite 4 times a week (Monday through Thursday, working 10 hours each day,
completing her 40-hour work requirement in 4 days. If Karen arrives late to work,
or needs to leave early because of commuting issues, she will need to use leave or
other paid time off to cover her absence. She will have every Friday off. Karen
will resume her regular work schedule once the Platform Improvement Project is
completed.
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2. Flexible Work Schedules (FWS)
A flexible work schedule (FWS) allows an employee to complete an 80-hour biweekly basic
work requirement by determining his or her own schedule within the limits set by the agency.
Agencies may also establish daily or weekly basic work requirements. Agencies may expand the
types of FWS that are available to employees as different types of schedules provide different
degrees of flexibility.

Components of an FWS:

Basic Work Requirement – The basic work requirement consists of workdays with core
hours and flexible hours. (See 5 U.S.C. 6122(a).)

Core Hours – Core hours are the designated period of the day when all employees must
be at work. An employee must account for missed core hours (if permitted) with leave,
credit hours, or compensatory time off.

Flexible Hours – Flexible hours (flexible time bands) are those hours during which an
employee covered by an FWS may choose to vary his or her times of arrival to and
departure from the work site consistent with the duties and requirements of the position.
(See 5 U.S.C. 6122(a)(2).) An agency may establish limitations on when basic work
requirement hours may be performed—e.g., the days of the week on which an employee
may perform such hours and limits on the number of such hours on a given day.

Credit Hours – Agency FWS policies may allow employees to earn credit hours. Credit
hours are hours that an employee elects to work, with supervisory approval, in excess of
the employee’s basic work requirement under an FWS. Credit hours can only be earned
during the established flexible hours (flexible time bands). An employee may use credit
hours during a subsequent day, week, or pay period, with supervisory approval, to allow
the employee to be absent from an equal number of hours of the employee’s basic work
requirement with no loss of basic pay. Employees may not accumulate more than 24
credit hours at any one time. For more information, please see:
https://www.opm.gov/policy-data-oversight/pay-leave/work-schedules/fact-sheets/credit-
hours-under-a-flexible-work-schedule/.

FWS Examples
See below for examples of potential types of FWS. Please note these examples are illustrative
and not all-inclusive.

Flexitour – Employees select arrival and departure times subject to agency approval.
(This results in a fixed schedule until the next selection period, as determined by the
agency.) A full-time employee must work 8 hours a day, 40 hours a week, and 80 hours
a biweekly pay period.

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Example—FWS (Flexitour)

Rasheed is a Federal employee working in the Washington, DC, area. His position
is not included in a bargaining unit. He typically rides the Metrorail system to and
from his worksite each day. Rasheed’s job has a fixed schedule of 9:30 a.m. to 6:00
p.m. During the Platform Improvement Project, Rasheed’s agency authorizes a
flexitour schedule for eligible employees. Rasheed will be permitted to elect his
starting and stopping times between the flexible hours of 6:00 a.m. and 7:00 p.m.
The flexitour schedule will contain core hours between 10:00 a.m. through 11:30
a.m. and 2:00 p.m. through 3:00 p.m. every work day. To ease his commute,
Rasheed agrees to set his schedule to now arrive at work at 7:00 a.m. and depart at
3:30 p.m. This schedule now becomes fixed for the duration of the selection period,
meaning that Rasheed must use leave or other paid time off to cover any late arrivals
or early departures. Rasheed will resume his regular fixed work schedule once the
Platform Improvement Project is completed.

Gliding – Employees may vary arrival and departure times on a daily basis during the
established flexible hours. A full-time employee must work 8 hours a day, 40 hours a
week, and 80 hours a biweekly pay period.

Example—FWS (Gliding)

Mikel is a Federal employee working in the Washington, DC, area. He rides a


commuter bus to and from his worksite each day. He does not use the Metrorail
system. Mikel works a fixed schedule with his hours set from 8:00 a.m. through
4:30 p.m. Mikel’s job is included in a bargaining unit. The union successfully
negotiates the implementation of a gliding schedule that will be available to all
eligible bargaining unit employees throughout the duration of the Platform
Improvement Project. The union agreed that the agency may terminate the gliding
schedule at the conclusion of the Platform Improvement Project, even if there is no
adverse agency impact, and this provision is included in the negotiated agreement.
The gliding schedule will contain core hours between 10:00 a.m. through 11:00
a.m. and 1:00 p.m. through 2:00 p.m. every work day. Employees may arrive as
early as 6:00 a.m. to start their workday and depart as late as 9:00 p.m. to end their
workday. Mikel will typically vary his arrival and departures times on Tuesdays
and Fridays to attend his daughter’s afternoon soccer games. On these days, he
will arrive at the worksite at 6:30 a.m. and leave at 3:00 p.m. In addition, Mikel
may come in later or leave earlier due to unexpected commuting delays as long as
he works an 8-hour day. Mikel will return to his regular fixed work schedule once
the Platform Improvement Project is completed.

Variable Day – Employees may vary arrival and departure times on a daily basis during
the established flexible hours along with the length of the workday. (An agency may
limit the number of hours an employee may work on a daily basis.) A full-time employee
must work 40 hours a week.

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Example—FWS (Variable Day)

Sasha is a Federal employee working in the Washington, DC, area. She rides the
Metrorail system to and from her worksite each day. Sasha works a flexitour
schedule in which she works 8-hour days with the ability to vary her start and stop
times. Sasha’s position is included in a bargaining unit. The union successfully
negotiates the implementation of a variable day work schedule that will be
available to all eligible bargaining unit employees throughout the duration of the
Platform Improvement Project. The parties agreed that FWS (i.e. the variable day
work schedule) will terminate and bargaining unit employees will return to a
flexitour schedule at the conclusion of the Platform Improvement Project, even if
there is no adverse agency impact, and this provision is included in the negotiated
agreement. The variable day schedule will contain core hours between 10:00 a.m.
through 11:30 a.m. and 1:30 p.m. through 2:30 p.m. every work day. Employees
may arrive as early as 7:00 a.m. to start their workday and depart as late as 7:00
p.m. to end their workday. Sasha plans to vary her arrival and departure times
throughout the Platform Improvement Project within the flexible time bands.
Sasha plans to work 8 hours every Monday through Wednesday. In order to
complete her 40—hour workweek, she plans to work 9 hours every Thursday and 7
hours every Friday to leave her worksite early. Sasha will return to her flexitour
schedule once the Platform Improvement Project is completed.

Variable Week – Employees may vary arrival and departure times on a daily basis
during the established flexible hours. Employees may also vary the length of the
workday and the workweek. (An agency may limit the number of hours an employee
may work on a daily basis.) A full-time employee must work 80 hours in a biweekly pay
period.

Example—FWS (Variable Week)

Hasan is a Federal employee working in the Washington, DC, area. He uses both
Metro bus and the Metrorail system to commute to and from his worksite each day.
His position is not included in a bargaining unit. His agency currently allows a
variable day schedule. As a result of the Platform Improvement Project, the agency
decides to offer more flexibility by offering a variable week schedule for eligible
employees. The variable week schedule will contain core hours between 10:30
a.m. through 11:30 a.m. and 1:30 through 2:30 p.m. every work day. Employees
may arrive as early as 6:00 a.m. to start their workday and depart as late as 6:30
p.m. to end their workday. Hasan will vary his arrival and departures times
throughout the Platform Improvement Project within the flexible time bands. He
will typically work 45 hours during the first workweek of the pay period and 35
hours during the second workweek of the pay period. Hasan will return to his
variable day schedule once the Platform Improvement Project is completed.

Maxiflex – Employees may vary arrival and departure times on a daily basis during the
established flexible hours. An employee may also vary the length of the workday and the

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workweek. (An agency may limit the number of hours an employee may work on a daily
basis.) An employee may work fewer than 10 workdays biweekly because of the absence
of core hours on one of the normal workdays. A full-time employee must work 80 hours
in a biweekly pay period.

Example—FWS (Maxiflex)

Kyndra is a Federal employee working in the Washington, DC, area. She typically
rides the Metrorail system to and from her worksite each day. Her position is not
included in a bargaining unit. During the Platform Improvement Project, her
agency authorizes use of a maxiflex schedule for all eligible employees.
Employees will be able to work within the established maxiflex time bands
between 5:00 a.m. through 8:00 p.m. Monday through Friday. Employees will be
able to complete their biweekly work requirement in fewer than 10 workdays under
the maxiflex schedule. The agency will also allow employees to earn credit hours
under the maxiflex schedule. Kyndra plans to work a 5-4/9 schedule throughout
the Platform Improvement Project. She will typically work 9 hours every Monday
through Thursday. Kyndra will work 8 hours on the first Friday of the pay period
and will have a day off on the second Friday of the pay period. Kyndra also plans
to work credit hours outside of her basic work requirement to have additional time
off to use in case of additional delays during her commute to the worksite. She will
return to her normal schedule once the Platform Improvement Project is completed.

Other AWS Issues for Agencies to Consider

Overtime

FWS: Overtime hours are all hours of work in excess of 8 hours in a day or 40 hours in a
week which are officially ordered in advance by management. (See the definition of
“overtime hours” at 5 U.S.C. 6121(6).) Hours within an employee’s basic work
requirement are not overtime hours even if they exceed an applicable daily or weekly
overtime threshold.

TIP: Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) covered (nonexempt) employees on FWS
may not earn overtime pay as a result of including “suffered or permitted” hours
(under the FLSA) as hours of work. (See 5 U.S.C. 6123(a). An FLSA-nonexempt
employee is compensated under FLSA only for “overtime hours” as defined in
5 U.S.C. 6121(6).)

CWS: For employees under a CWS program who are exempt from the FLSA, overtime
hours are all officially ordered and approved hours of work in excess of the compressed
work schedule. For full-time employees who are covered by the FLSA (nonexempt),
overtime hours also include any hours worked outside the compressed work schedule that
are “suffered or permitted.” (See 5 U.S.C. 6121(7), 6128.)

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Compensatory Time Off in lieu of Overtime

FWS: An agency may grant compensatory time off in lieu of overtime pay at the request
of the employee under an FWS for overtime hours of work that are regularly scheduled or
irregular or occasional. (See 5 U.S.C. 6123(a) and 5 CFR 550.114(b).)

CWS: An agency may grant compensatory time off in lieu of overtime pay at the request
of the employee under a CWS for irregular or occasional overtime. (See 5 U.S.C.
5543(a)(1) and 5 CFR 550.114(a).)

TIP: Agencies may order mandatory compensatory time off, in lieu of overtime
pay for irregular or occasional overtime work, only for those employees who are
FLSA-exempt and whose rate of basic pay exceeds the rate for GS-10, step 10.
(See 5 U.S.C. 5543(a)(2) and 5 CFR 550.114(c).)

Night Pay:

FWS: Agencies must pay night pay for those hours that must be worked between 6 p.m.
and 6 a.m. to complete an 8-hour daily tour of duty. Agencies must also pay night pay
for any nonovertime work performed between 6 p.m. and 6 a.m. during designated core
hours. (See 5 U.S.C. 6123(c).)

TIP: If an employee’s tour of duty includes 8 or more hours available for work
during daytime hours (i.e., between 6 a.m. and 6 p.m.), he or she is not entitled to
night pay because he or she voluntarily elects to work during hours for which night
pay is normally required (i.e., between 6 p.m. and 6 a.m.).

CWS: An employee is entitled to night pay for regularly scheduled night work
performed between the hours of 6 p.m. and 6 a.m. (See 5 U.S.C. 5545(a).)

Holiday Pay

FWS: A full-time employee who is relieved or prevented from working on a day


designated as a holiday is entitled to his or her rate of basic pay on that day for 8 hours.
(See 5 U.S.C. 6124.) An FWS employee cannot receive more than 8 hours of holiday
pay.

CWS: A full-time employee who is relieved or prevented from working on a day


designated as a holiday is entitled to his or her rate of basic pay for the number of hours
of the compressed work schedule on that day. (See 5 U.S.C. 6128(d) and 5 CFR
610.406(a).)

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Holiday Premium Pay

FWS: A full-time employee who performs non-overtime work on a holiday (or a day
designated as the “in lieu of” holiday under 5 U.S.C. 6103(b) or section 3 of E.O. 11582)
is entitled to his or her rate of basic pay plus premium pay equal to his or her rate of basic
pay for that holiday work. Holiday premium pay is limited to a maximum of 8 hours.
(See 5 U.S.C. 5546(b).)

TIP: Agencies must designate the 8 holiday hours applicable to each FWS
employee.

CWS: A full-time employee who performs nonovertime work on a holiday (or a day
designated as the “in lieu of” holiday under 5 U.S.C. 6103(b) or (d) or section 3 of E.O.
11582) is entitled to basic pay plus premium pay equal to his or her rate of basic pay for
the work that is not in excess of the employee’s compressed work schedule for that day.
(See 5 U.S.C. 6128(d) and 5 CFR 610.407.)

Sunday Premium Pay

FWS: An employee is entitled to Sunday premium pay for up to 8 hours of his or her
basic work requirement based on electing to work flexible hours during a basic tour of
duty that begins or ends on Sunday. (See 5 U.S.C. 5546(a) and 5 CFR 550.171.)
However, an agency may preclude employees from working flexible hours during a basic
tour of duty that begins or ends on Sunday.

TIP: FWS employees may not earn Sunday premium pay when they earn or use
credit hours.

CWS: An employee is entitled to Sunday premium pay for all non-overtime hours the
employee works during each regularly scheduled basic tour of duty that begins or ends on
Sunday. (See 5 U.S.C. 6128(c).)

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U.S. Office of Personnel Management Guidance on the Use of Telework
During Metro’s Platform Improvement Project
The Telework Enhancement Act (the Act) required agencies to establish a policy under which
eligible employees could be authorized to telework and to determine the eligibility of all
employees for telework, in accordance with the provisions of the Act. Thus, Federal agencies that
have adopted such policies have the authority to authorize eligible employees to telework, as
appropriate. In response to the Platform Improvement Project, agencies should review their
policies and procedures on the use of workplace flexibilities, including telework, to help mitigate
commuting disruptions for their workforce.

Telework Basics

Telework “refers to a work flexibility arrangement under which an employee performs the duties
of and responsibilities of such employee’s position, and other authorized activities, from an
approved worksite other than the location from which the employee would otherwise work.” (See
5 U.S.C. 6501(3).)

In practice, telework is a work arrangement that allows an employee to perform work, during any
part of regular, paid hours, at an approved alternate worksite (e.g., the employee’s home or a
telework center). During the Platform Improvement Project, telework can assist agencies in
maximizing agency productivity while accommodating the disruptions that will accompany the
project in terms of work and personal responsibilities.

Agencies retain the responsibility and the obligation to determine employee eligibility for
telework taking into account the limitations of the Act and the anticipated impact on employee
performance and agency operations. The agency thus must consider business-related,
operational needs of the Agency in making its determinations. Overall, telework can be viewed
as a potentially valuable resource that may produce a benefit to both the organization and those
employees who are eligible and choose to participate.

Types of Telework

Routine telework occurs as part of an ongoing, regular schedule.


Situational telework is approved on a case-by-case basis, where the hours worked are
not part of a previously approved, ongoing and regular telework schedule. Examples of
situational telework include telework as a result of inclement weather, special events, or
special work assignments.

It is important to note that any employee who wishes to telework (regardless of which type)
must first successfully complete an interactive telework training program provided by the
agency and must enter into a written agreement with his/her supervisor. Many agencies use the
interactive online training available on www.telework.gov.

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TIP: Routine and situational telework have different uses and benefits. Most often,
situational telework is approved on a case-by-case basis for a situation covering a single day
or a short period of time. Occasionally, situational telework may be approved for a situation
or special event that covers a longer period of time (e.g., the Platform Improvement project)
but is intended to be temporary. Under such circumstances, it is not necessary to change the
employee’s telework agreement unless there is a need to include the ability to telework on a
situational basis.

Scenario: Dinesh is a Federal employee working in the Washington, DC, area. He prefers to
work from the office, so he has never established a written telework agreement with his
manager, even though he is eligible to do so under the agency’s existing policy. Dinesh rides
the Metrorail system to and from his worksite each day, and he knows that his commute will
be significantly impacted by the Platform Improvement project. He is considering telework as
a solution to this temporary disruption. Although Dinesh only plans to telework during the
Platform Improvement project, the Telework Enhancement Act requires every employee who
participates in telework to have a written agreement and complete a telework training,
regardless of whether it is for routine or situational telework. After completing the agency
required training, Dinesh enters into a written telework agreement that contains exact
beginning and ending dates of the agreement. Once the ending date of the agreement is
reached, Dinesh will no longer be a telework participant. He and his agency may revisit the
telework arrangement if it is necessary.

Telework Eligibility and Participation

When making determinations during the Platform Improvement Project regarding the use of
telework and other workplace flexibilities, OPM encourages agencies and managers to be
thoughtful and creative. Agencies may want to reassess earlier eligibility determinations to
consider whether any circumstances have changed (e.g. nature of work, technology) that would
impact eligibility, thereby, perhaps, permitting telework at least on a limited basis.
In many positions, employees perform portable duties or tasks on a regular basis. The degree of
portability of an employee’s work factors into determining to what extent, if any, it would be
feasible for the employee to telework and how that telework is best scheduled. For employees
who may be impacted by the Platform Improvement project, agencies and managers are
encouraged to revisit the question of whether certain portions of the employees' work are, in
fact, consistent with the "portable" types of duties that lend themselves to ad hoc or situational
telework.

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Scenario: Erich is a Federal employee working in the Washington, DC, area. He rides the
Metrorail system to and from his worksite each day. Erich provides administrative support to
his office and usually works onsite, but his Metro station will be closed during the Platform
Improvement Project. He believes he will benefit from being able to telework during this
closure. Erich requests to telework four days a week during the project. Erich’s manager
evaluates his request and determines that some of his duties are suitable for telework, but
others require him to be present in the office. Based on discussions between Erich and his
supervisor, a portion of Erich’s work hours, allocated to “portable” duties suitable for
telework, is consolidated to two days of the week to allow him to telework twice a week
during the Platform Improvement project in accordance with the agency telework policy.

Scenario: Luis is designated as an emergency employee by his Federal agency due to the
critical nature of his position and is deemed ‘ineligible to telework’ under the agency’s
telework policy. He is normally required to report to the agency worksite even during
agency closures. Luis commutes daily from a Metro station that will be closed for the entire
period of the Platform Improvement Project and he is does not own a car. He asks his
manager if he can be exempted from reporting to the office and allowed to telework during
the project. Due to the critical nature of his position and the need to have him physically
present at the worksite, his request is denied.

Although one of the limitations on approving telework under the Act pertains to work that is not
conducive to telework, remember that the Act explicitly limits telework participation only in
cases in which the employee’s official duties fall outside what is conducive to telework "every
work day." (See 5 U.S.C. 6502(b)(4).) This means managers have flexibility to work out
telework arrangements that take advantage of those days on which the employee is performing
portable duties. Consistent with the Act, this flexible approach may open up the possibility for
telework on a routine or situational basis, even for positions previously thought to be ineligible
in their entirety.

Nevertheless, managers should consider their choices carefully. When expanded telework is
granted only on a temporary basis, managers should clearly communicate the temporary nature
of the exception in order to manage expectations once the current contingency ends. Current
collective bargaining agreements coupled with managerial discretion may be sufficient to
permit short-term modification or expansion of telework opportunities. When contemplating
changes to existing policies and practices that will affect bargaining unit employees, however,
agencies should assess whether they will have collective bargaining obligations and consult
with agency labor relations and legal advisors.

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NOTE: While teleworking is a useful flexibility to accommodate work-life balance and continued
continuity of operations, there will be situations when an agency will not be able to approve an
employee’s request to telework through situational telework, especially on a temporary full-time
basis, due to the agency’s mission requirements. The employee’s duties may require work to be
performed onsite, thereby making the employee’s position ineligible for telework. Likewise, while an
employee’s duties may be conducive to telework, it may not be conducive to full-time work away
from the employee’s usual worksite (i.e., remote work). It is important for the employee and his/her
manager or supervisor to discuss the workplace requirements and the need for the employee’s
presence at the worksite, for at least a portion of the workweek. Supervisors and managers should
consult with their internal human resources offices to discuss requests from their employees.
Agencies will want to have a consistent approach to requests made by their employees.

Scenario: Lisa is a Federal employee working in the Washington, DC, area. She rides the Metrorail to
and from her worksite each day. Lisa requests to work from her home full-time, during the Platform
Improvement Project. She discusses with her manager that she would like to work from home for the
entire span of the project, approximately 4 months. Most of Lisa’s work is portable and conducive to
telework. Her work, however, requires periodic meetings with colleagues outside of the DC area who
travel to DC for these meetings. Lisa’s manager explains that, for a variety of reasons, these meetings
have required in-person attendance and on those days Lisa would have to be physically present. Lisa
agrees that she will attend those meetings in person. Her manager also discusses that there may be
other instances for which Lisa will be required to be in the office and her manager reserves the right to
require her to report to the office. Lisa agrees to these conditions and is permitted to telework on other
days.

Things to consider when receiving requests to telework:

What types of telework arrangements does your agency currently offer employees (e.g.,
routine and/or situational)?
Does your agency’s telework policy currently impose any restrictions on the maximum
number of days that an employee is permitted to telework?
Does your agency currently impose any restrictions on employees utilizing telework in
combination with other flexibilities (e.g., alternative work schedules)?
Does your agency’s existing telework program allow for expanded use of ad hoc or
situational telework?
Should the agency reassess or review how telework eligibility and participation is
determined to see if changes to the existing telework program are warranted?
Would any changes to the agency’s telework program be limited to the term of the
Platform Improvement project?
Have your employees received training on how to accurately track telework participation
on their work reports?
What type of engagement with unions might be necessary when considering changes to
employee eligibility or telework policies, either on a temporary or permanent basis? For
example, would providing unions notice and an opportunity to bargain be necessary?
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Does the employee have enough of the type of work that can be performed away from
the normal worksite to be able to telework for the number of days requested?
Would the employee be able to perform their duties with equal effectiveness at the
telework site?
Would expanded telework opportunities disrupt or diminish the accomplishment of
agency mission work?
Is the employee eligible to telework based on law, agency policy, conduct, and
performance issues?

Tracking Telework During the Platform Improvement Project

There continues to be keen attention focused on the Federal Government’s response to the Metro
Platform Improvement project. For that reason, OPM urges agencies to take steps, to the extent
possible, to accurately monitor and track the use of telework and other workplace flexibilities.
Agencies are reminded that tracking efforts should align with current OPM requirements for
telework reporting. Please refer to the Guide to Human Resources Reporting, Chapter 4, pages
4-81 to 4-84. Additional guidance will be made available to agencies in the coming weeks
regarding OPM’s continued efforts to collect telework data consistently across the Government.
NOTE: Agencies should report the two specific types of telework outlined in the Data Standards–
Routine and Situational- see https://dw.opm.gov/datastandards/list?index=A.

Ensuring that employees are trained on how to correctly report telework on their work reports
should allow agencies to accurately monitor the use of telework during the Platform
Improvement Project. Accurately and distinctly reporting situational and routine telework is
critical for evaluating and improving Federal telework programs.

TIP: Situational telework may also include telework arrangements that are intended to be
temporary or of short duration. For example, if an agency expands its use of situational
telework to provide additional flexibilities to employees impacted by the Platform
Improvement Project, such arrangements should be tracked as situational telework even if the
schedule is previously approved and ongoing. The reason is the telework agreement is based
on a special event – the Platform Improvement project – and is intended to be temporary.

Telework Flexibility During the Platform Improvement Project


Although Federal telework programs are established primarily to meet agency mission and
operational needs, telework has become an important tool for continuity of agency operations
while also providing flexibility that enhances work-life balance and improves morale for many
Federal employees. During the Platform Improvement Project, additional flexibilities may enable
some employees to better manage their work and family or personal responsibilities. Used
appropriately, telework along with other workplace flexibilities, can help to minimize the impact
of the Platform Improvement Project on Federal employees. Agencies will play an important role
in developing and communicating the various workplace flexibilities that are available to
employees. In turn, these agency policies and communications will allow employees to better
understand which workplace flexibilities are available to them to best meet their needs during the
Platform Improvement Project (e.g., leave, ad hoc or situational telework, alternative work
schedules, etc.).

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Scenario: Laurie is a Federal employee working in the Washington, DC, area. She rides the
Metrorail system to and from her worksite each day. On Tuesday and Thursday evenings, Laurie is
responsible for picking up her daughter from soccer practice. Laurie anticipates that the
disruptions caused by the Platform Improvement Project will require her to miss a significant
amount of work and require significant expenditure of leave in order for her to continue to meet
this family responsibility. She anticipates that, by teleworking on those days and avoiding this
disruption, she will be able to continue to pick up her daughter, without the need to take leave, and
perhaps perform more work. In preparation for potential commuting disruptions caused by the
Platform Improvement Project, Laurie requests to establish a telework agreement so she will be
able to telework on Tuesdays and Thursdays for the duration of the project. This will permit her to
maintain the same work schedule while avoiding commuting disruptions that could interfere with
these responsibilities. Since she intends to maintain this schedule only temporarily, while her metro
station is impacted, her telework agreement specifies that she is permitted to telework on a
situational basis and her supervisor approves her specific telework days. This is consistent with her
agency’s existing telework policy.

Scenario: Monica is a Federal employee working in the Washington, DC, area. Currently, she
teleworks two days per week under a routine telework agreement. On the days she commutes to
the office, Monica uses the Metrorail system. After learning that her Metro station will be closed
for almost four months during the Platform Improvement project, Monica requests to telework an
additional day for the remainder of the station closure. Her manager first consults with human
resources staff to ensure that such an arrangement complies with agency policy and then approves
the request and reminds Monica that any additional telework days that are not a part of her long-
term routine telework schedule should be reported as situational telework on her work report.

Engaging with Employees, Union Representatives, and Management Organizations

When considering changes to employee eligibility or telework policies, either on a


temporary or permanent basis, agencies should assess their obligations to consult with
management organizations, consistent with 5 CFR Part 251, and engage with labor
organizations consistent with 5 U.S.C. Chapter 71. (See also OPM Memorandum
regarding Relationships with Management Organizations.
https://www.chcoc.gov/content/relationships-management-organizations-0.) It is always
advisable to seek the advice of agency labor relations staff and agency counsel before
embarking on these efforts.

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Scenario: Tom is a Federal employee working in the Washington, DC, area. Currently, Tom
teleworks one day per week under a routine telework agreement. On the days he commutes to the
office, Tom uses the Metrorail system that is being impacted during the Platform Improvement
Project. Tom requests to increase his telework during the period of the station closure which is
approximately 4 months. His manager first consults with human resources staff to ensure that such
an arrangement complies with agency policy and any applicable collective bargaining agreement,
then, after considering agency mission requirements, approves the request. Tom’s manager reminds
him that any additional telework days that are not a part of his long-term routine telework schedule
should be reported as situational telework on his work report.

Official Worksite Determinations for Location-Based Pay Purposes

For locality-based pay determinations, there is a general rule that an employee covered by a
telework agreement must report at least twice each biweekly pay period on a regular and recurring
basis to the regular worksite (i.e., the place the employee would work absent an agreement) in
order to receive the locality-based payment designated for the employee’s regular worksite. In
limited circumstances, an agency may approve an exception under the locality pay regulations
during the Platform Improvement Project so an employee is not required to report physically to the
regular worksite (i.e., the place the employee would work absent a telework agreement) at least
twice each biweekly pay period. When assessing such requests, agency management should
consider all factors relating to telework eligibility. Before deciding to grant such a request, the
agency must verify that the employee’s work is 100 percent (or nearly 100 percent) portable and
whether his/her physical presence in the office during this time will not be necessary. The short-
term basis of this exception should be clearly communicated in order to manage expectations.

Short-term, temporary approvals of an exception under 5 CFR 531.605(d)(2) will not change an
employee’s official worksite and location-based pay. This outcome could change, however,
depending on considerations such as the eventual duration of the arrangement. Agencies should
consult with their Offices of Human Resources with regard to making these determinations. For
more information, see OPM’s fact sheet on Official Worksite for Location-Based Pay Purposes at
https://www.opm.gov/policy-data-oversight/pay-leave/pay-administration/fact-sheets/official-
worksite-for-location-based-pay-purposes/.

It is required that agencies establish a formal written agreement when allowing work from a
temporary location away from an employee’s official worksite. Any temporary work agreements
made during the Platform Improvement Project should specify the duration of the arrangement and
the exclusive right of the manager to require an employee to report to the official duty station (i.e.,
the physical office) when the employee’s manager finds that the employee’s presence is needed to
accomplish mission requirements.

Scenario: Shelia is a Federal employee working in the Washington, DC, area. Currently, Shelia
commutes from Richmond, VA and teleworks one day per week under a routine telework
agreement. On the days she commutes to the office, Shelia uses the Metrorail system that is being
impacted during the Platform Improvement Project. Shelia requests to temporarily increase the

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number of days she works outside the office during the period of the station closure which is
approximately 4 months. Her manager consults with human resources staff to determine whether
such an arrangement would comply with agency policy and any applicable collective bargaining
agreements. As part of this process, the manager carefully assesses whether Shelia’s work is 100%
portable, confirms that Sheila has the technical capacity to complete her work remotely, and further
determines that Shelia’s physical presence in the office will generally not be required during this
period. She then approves the request based on the determination that Shelia meets these
requirements. Shelia’s manager explains that there may be periods during the 4 months that Shelia
will be needed to work at her official worksite. Shelia and her manager establish and sign an
agreement that outlines the arrangement timeframe. Shelia’s manager reminds her that any
additional telework days outside the office that are not a part of her long-term routine telework
schedule should be reported as situational telework on her work report.

NOTE: Since this is a temporary arrangement, Shelia’s agency may approve an exception under 5
CFR 531.605(d)(2) so that her locality pay rate will remain the same even though she will be
temporarily working from the Richmond, VA, locality pay area versus Washington, DC, locality
pay area. As noted above, however, this outcome could change, depending on subsequent events,
such as the eventual duration of the arrangement, and agencies should consult with their Offices of
Human Resources concerning these determinations.

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Additional Tips for Evaluating and Approving Situational Telework Requests during
Platform Improvement Project

1. Establish clear telework norms and rules for your team.

2. Determine what your organization’s policy will be regarding requests for telework on a non-
telework day. For example, what, if any, advance notice is required, and if it is required,
what is the necessary timeframe? How should employees communicate such requests (e.g.,
are employee’s required to call, email)? Generally, agencies delegate the responsibility to
approve/disapprove telework requests to the individual manager.

3. Develop a policy that allows for situational telework that can be planned and approved in
advance (e.g., a medical appointment), and situational telework that cannot be anticipated
and planned (e.g., the employee’s car won’t start).

4. Consult with agency labor relations and legal advisors in order to plan for satisfying any
collective bargaining obligations with employee representatives on any changes to agency
telework policies.

5. Exercise appropriate managerial control over your organization and staff. Telework is not an
employee right or entitlement and employees should not feel a sense of entitlement to be able
to dictate changes in a telework schedule without management consent.

6. Ensure that employees requesting telework meet all eligibility requirement pursuant to law
and agency policy including that they have sufficient portable work to support the
telework request and that they have the ability to perform their duties with the same
efficiency and effectiveness as when they are in the office.

7. Communication is key — Managers should engage their employees in a dialogue to achieve


a complete and accurate mutual understanding of the need and appropriateness of the request
for telework.

8. Avoid one-size-fits all solutions. Try to develop policies that are flexible enough to
encompass the reasonable needs of individual employees during the Platform Improvement
Project, the agency’s mission and operational needs, and compliance requirements pursuant
to the Telework Enhancement Act and other applicable law.

9. Apply the rules fairly and consistently.

10. Brief your staff collectively and individually when necessary regarding updates on the
Platform Improvement project.

11. Monitor and document situational telework requests to ensure situational telework is
consistent with applicable requirements.

12. As with regular telework, employees should understand that failure to comply with the
terms of the telework agreement, failure to comply with workplace policies or rules, or
failure to maintain appropriate performance levels while teleworking, may result in
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suspension or termination of the telework agreement.

13. Set clear performance goals, expectations, and accountabilities. Focus performance on
results. Document performance or conduct concerns and share with the employee
involved as you would with a non-telework employee.

14. Remember that expanding telework opportunities, on a temporary or more permanent


basis, does not require supervisors to loosen existing eligibility restrictions based on
considerations such as employee conduct or performance concerns.

15. Consult your telework coordinator, HR staff, counsel and others as appropriate.

16. Act promptly, properly and decisively to solve problems. Make sure communication is
free flowing between managers and employees regarding commuting issues during the
Platform Improvement project.

17. Make sure your employees are trained on how to correctly report situational telework on
their work reports. Accurate and distinct reporting of situational and routine telework is
critical for evaluating and improving telework programs.

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Telework FAQs: Metro Platform Improvement Project

What is telework?

Telework “refers to a work flexibility arrangement under which an employee performs the duties
and responsibilities of such employee’s position, and other authorized activities, from an
approved worksite other than the location from which the employee would otherwise work. In
practice, telework is a work arrangement that allows an employee to perform work, during any
part of regular, paid hours, at an approved alternate worksite (e.g., the employee’s home or a
telework center).

What is not Telework?

Telework does not include mobile work, which is characterized by routine and regular travel to
conduct work or remote work, which is characterized by an assigned full time worksite away
from agency brick and mortar worksites.

What are the types of telework?

Routine telework: Telework that occurs as part of a previously approved, ongoing, and regular
schedule that is described in a telework agreement.
Situational telework: Telework that is approved on a case-by-case basis, where hours worked are
not part of a previously approved, ongoing, and regular telework schedule. Situational telework
includes what is sometimes referred to as unscheduled, ad hoc, episodic, intermittent, or
emergency telework.

How should agencies track telework?

Accurately tracking telework participation is critical for improving and evaluating the impacts of
telework programs. OPM requires agencies to regularly report:

Telework Eligibility
Hours and Instances of Routine Telework
Hours and Instances of Situational Telework

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