SRP TELEWORK POLICY
INTRODUCTION AND INTENT
The Federal Government is promoting Teleworking as a legitimate work alternative.
Telework is a voluntary program that enables employees to perform work at a place other than the employee's official duty station in accordance with the terms of an employee-employer agreement. Telework is one of a number of “flexible work schedule” tools available to managers to balance the needs for a productive organization and the realities of today’s workplace.
- Telework will permit telecommuting as a legitimate work site, optimizing the benefits while assuring continued productivity.
- Telework will promote SRP within DEA/NIAID and NIH as an employer of choice, and will enhance NIH’s efforts to employ and accommodate a diverse workforce.
This Telework policy applies only to eligible NIH NIAID DEA SRP federal employees, and is not intended to address Telework arrangements for contractors.
POLICY: The policies below are derived from the NIH POLICY MANUAL no. 2300-600-1 – (NIH Telework Policy), considerations specified by the Director of DEA and the SRP Management team.
- Implementation of a Telework policy impacts the work style and work rules of the entire organization especially the requirements for and the mechanisms of communication and planning.
- Office coverage is critical to the SRP mission. Coverage includes both the simple tasks such as phone answering as well as the more complex issues of who will be available to handle “late breaking” issues.
- Employees must be readily accessible during duty hours to their supervisor and to others by phone and e-mail. It is the joint responsibility of the employee and the supervisor to maintain communication during Telework. The employee agrees to maintain a telephone line to the alternate work site, an answering machine or answering service on this telephone line, as well as to furnish the number to the employer so that the employee is accessible during duty hours. On the days when the employee is teleworking, they will also need to affix a notice on their workplace office door to notify others. The employee should not use out of office messages on email or voicemail while teleworking to ensure a seamless work process, whether on-site or off-site.
- Duty hours while teleworking must be the same as duty hours while working in the office.
- All pertinent time, attendance, leave and pay regulations must be observed.
- Incidental interruption to duty hours should be managed in the same way as if you were in the office.
- No staff will be allowed to telework on Thursday, in order to facilitate meeting planning.
- Viable worksites include the home.
DETERMING ELIGIBILITY TO APPLY
The NIH employee must be a full time Federal employee in job for at least one Year.
The teleworker must have broadband internet access (e.g. DSL or cable) and have a telephone answering machine or service.
NIH employee must have satisfactory performance record, not be on Special Leave Procedures or Performance Improvement Plan and have no documented misconduct personnel action on permanent record within the last three years.
A successful teleworker is:
- self-motivated, self-managing
- Results oriented
- Conscientious and organized
- Independent worker
- Knowledgeable about job requirements
- Knowledgeable about organizational policies and procedures
- Communicates well with colleagues and clients
- Able to handle changes well.
Tasks performed while teleworking must be portable, and should be able to be documented. Close supervision should not be required, work should not require constant face-to-face interaction with coworkers and technology and connectivity should be available.
Two types of Telework will be offered. The teleworker must choose one of them.
Regular-every pay period:
- One day a week.
- Routine tasks requiring good connectivity; minimal or no supervision, where the phone and e-mail are adequate to handle teleworker tasks as if she/he were in the office.
- Teleworker is NOT exempted from interruption and should not expect to work uninterrupted. This is as if he/she were in the office and easily accessible by phone/email/drop-in.
- Teleworker may be asked to come in to the office for special circumstances.
Episodic-scheduled but not regular
- Telework up to two consecutive days in order to accomplish a specific task (i.e. writing summary statements, reading and administratively reviewing applications etc.). Episodic Telework must be scheduled one week in advance.
SRP staff interested in “regular” Telework should have been in their current position in SRP for at least one year. SRP staff interested in “episodic” Telework need to demonstrate to their supervisor that they are able to manage the work done while teleworking without face-to-face interaction.
SRP staff must choose one or the other program.
Teleworkers may not participate in other “flexible” work programs such as compressed time schedule (to allow adequate coverage for the office).
Factors for considering participation in the Telework program include but not limited to portability of work, employee’s status, past performance, impact of Telework on the operations of the office, and costs of implementing a Telework program.
BACK UP POLICY
Each Teleworking SRO will have a “buddy” who is a fellow SRO and who will assume the role of the teleworker’s primary office liaison. The “buddy” will be selected by the teleworker in consultation with the employee’s Branch Chief for the duration of a review assignment.
Examples of tasks that may need coverage:
Meeting with walk-insForwarding or sending information
Printing jobs in the officeTaking and forwarding messages for the teleworker
Taking customer callsServing as emergency back-up in primary office
SUSPENSION OF TELEWORK SCHEDULE FOR ORGANIZATIONAL REASONS
- Telework schedules may be suspended during time periods when high out-of-office work is required by the organization. This could include times when there are a large number of review meetings, large attendance at professional meetings (AAAI, ASM, etc), holiday periods, scheduled NIAID advisory council meetings, etc. Planning should allow at least one work week notice of suspension of Telework. This action should occur on a program or branch-wide basis and is up to the Program Director or Branch Chief’s discretion.
- At all times 66% of the staff should be in the office unless otherwise decided by the Program Director. 75% of staff should be working on or off site on any work day.
- On an emergency basis, teleworkers may be called to the office with 2 hours notice. This may occur on an individual or branch-wide basis and is up to the Branch Chief’s discretion.
- Teleworkers may be asked to forgo their Telework day when it falls contiguous to other “out-of-office” days due to review meetings, training, science meetings, holidays, etc. This may occur on an individual or branch-wide basis and is up to the Branch Chief’s discretion.
- Telework scheduling must not interrupt or dictate scheduling of review meetings.
MANAGING WORK AND FAMILY ISSUES
- Dependent care arrangements should be sufficient to allow teleworkers to work with the same attention as when they are located in the office and permit teleworkers to come to the office on short notice.
- Teleworkers should not plan to be responsible for any dependants during working hours- just the same as when they are working in the office.
- Teleworkers must insure that telephone coverage is professional at all times and that others present at the work site must answer the phone in a professional manner at all times.
- If a situation arises where the employee must unexpectedly attend to a dependent during scheduled duty hours, the supervisor must be notified immediately and the teleworker must arrange to take leave or reschedule the work hours just the same as when working in the office.
USING EMPLOYER PROPERTY/TECHNOLOGY
- NIH–owned computer equipment may be loaned by an IC to the employee for Telework use.
- IC may also provide the employee with appropriate work supplies.
- The employee may provide his/her own equipment, but not IT equipment.
- All equipment used for Telework, whether NIH or employee owned must be documented.
- Based on current understanding, the installation of a second telephone line and/or high speed data service should be the responsibility of the teleworker.
- The employee will have access to a government phone card for making work related long distance calls while Teleworking.
ENSURING SAFETY AT THE TELEWORK SITE
- The employee is required to maintain and use a designate work area at the Telework site.
- Federal employees are covered if injured in the course of actually performing official duties at the Telework site.
- The teleworker shall immediately report any work-related accident to a Branch Chief or the Program Director.
- The use of the Telework site for work-related face to face meetings is prohibited.
- The employee must permit periodic inspections of the Telework site.
MAINTAINING CONFIDENTIAL INFORMATION AND SECURITY
The employee will not take confidential information to the Telework site without the approval of appropriate supervisor.
HANDLING EMERGENCY CLOSINGS
- OPM feels that “employees who Telework… are an invaluable resource during a time of emergency”. In the event of an emergency dismissal or shutdown, teleworking employees may be required to continue to work at their Telework sites.
- The employee must contact his/her supervisor immediately if work at the Telework site cannot continue, whether or not the main office is under emergency dismissal. The supervisor should identify where he/she could be contacted by leaving out of office notification on e-mail or a telephone message.
COMPENSATION FOR TRAVEL
- There is no reimbursement for local travel to and from the Telework site to the main office.
- Time spent traveling does count as work time, if a teleworker is directed to travel to the main office during his/her regular scheduled basic tour of duty, for instance for an unplanned meeting.
- The teleworker must receive approval from his/her supervisor for any trips to the main office on his/her telecommuting day.
- Teleworkers should meet with their supervisors and work group to coordinate the details of the Telework arrangements.
- The information technology professionals are responsible for providing the information and training necessary for teleworkers to achieve the level of remote access needed to ensure their continuing productivity.
- Teleworkers, supervisors, and other members of the work group should coordinate training needed to manage office coverage including advance “telephone skills” such as call forwarding, and setting up conference calls.
- Teleworkers, supervisors, and other members of the work group will use MS Outlook resources so allow remote access to calendars, email, task planning, etc.
- The SRO will keep his/her activity report current and will use it to log work done during teleworking. The text field in the Activity Report form is a convenient place to note progress.
- Tasks not covered by the activity report will be communicated to the Branch Chief by e-mail. Non SRO Federal employees should use e-mail for reporting to his/her Branch Chief.
- All teleworkers and their supervisors agree, by entering into a Telework agreement, to follow reporting and evaluation requirements.
- A completed and signed Telework agreement, to be renewed with each teleworker at least semi annually as part of the calendar year performance review cycle.
- An annual NIH-wide web-based evaluation to be coordinated by IC Telework coordinators and complete by all teleworkers and their supervisors.
The teleworker will be evaluated at 3 months, 6 months, 9 months and 1 year. The teleworker will be evaluated by his/her Branch Chief according to the following criteria:
- Activity report – In the activity report the teleworker outlines the tasks initiated and completed at the end of the day and presents the report to his/her Branch Chief on their scheduled one to one meeting.
- Completing meeting objectives in a timely fashion.
- Organization and seamless operation – The teleworker is responsible for organizing their work, and Telework must not effect the seamless operation of the organization.
- Accessibility and communication with the office.
DENYING, TEMINATION OR CHANGING TELEWORK AGREEMENTS
- Change in circumstances of the IC
- Change in teleworker’s position description
- Negative impact of Telework on employee performance
- Negative impact of Telework on work group performance
- Failure to appropriately complete the activity report
- The quality of the work completed is not consistent with experience level and time on the job
- Inappropriate preparations for communications with staff and customers
- Lack of preparation of documents needed to complete tasks
- Consistent failure to come to the office within 2 hours when called (weather and traffic conditions permitting)
- Consistent refusal to remain on the job Teleworking when there is an emergency closing
- A pattern of not answering phone or e-mail messages