The New Telecommuting Law.

by Michael Haberman on December 14, 2010 · 2 comments


Federal worker preparing for telecommuting.

Yes, you read that right. There is a new law on telecommuting. Signed into law on December 9, 2010 we have the new Telework Enhancement Act (H.R. 1722). Now if you are in the private sector you do not have to worry about this law (other than as a taxpayer.) This new law only applies to the Federal Government. The law will cover about 1.2 million federal workers and “… requires agencies to determine eligibility for their staffs and then to notify all workers who are eligible to telework under the new policies. In addition, the law requires each agency to appoint a telework managing officer and have that officer report directly to the agency’s head.” Additionally “The law requires the development of telework training programs for federal employees who choose to telecommute. Their supervisors and agencies must rewrite their business continuity plans to include teleworking. The law requires managers and employees to sign written telework agreements that specify the expectations and requirements for telework arrangements. Managers and employees have to work together and agree on how often the employee can telework.”

This to me is an incredible example of bureaucracy gone wild. In the private sector policy changes would occur as they made sense and that seems to me that a similar process could have taken place in the Federal government as well. After all the Patent and Trademark Office has been doing telework since 1997. So was it really necessary to pass a LAW to do this?

Apparently however, not everyone thinks it will be successful. Just as in the private sector there are critics who “…have argued that the law will prove to be too costly and will offer federal employees a new perk at a time when agencies should be cutting back costs.”

I am happy to see that some commonsense has prevailed. “According to the law, employees who must be physically present to do their jobs—such as health care providers, prison guards and law enforcement officials—will not be eligible for telework. Federal employees who have to handle secure or classified material and employees who have been punished for being absent more than five days in a year or punished for viewing or distributing pornography with a government computer will not be eligible.” Aren’t you glad to know they made it clear that people who had a job that required their physical presence were not allowed to telecommute. Brilliant! And why are people who view or distribute pornography on government computers still working for the government?

Sometimes you just have to wonder don’t you?

(Source: SHRM news article President Signs Federal Employee Telework Legislation)

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{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Camellia Lane September 5, 2011 at 10:57 pm

Well, if you knew anything about Economics at all, you would realize that Teleworking CUTS COSTS, and significantly too, which is why it has become law. Why, on the other hand, are people who have been caught viewing porn on their government computer, still working for the government? That too was my question.

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Michael Haberman September 5, 2011 at 11:13 pm

Camilla, my point was not to argue against telecommuting. I think it is a superb tool to increase productivity. My point was questioning why it was necessary to pass a law. The private sector has used telecommuting a great deal with no law. Why did the Federal government need a law?

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