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Telework options and guidelines for the Air Force Reserve civilians

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ROBINS AIR FORCE BASE, Ga. --

As COVID-19 response and mitigation drives work force decisions, Air Force Reserve leadership is getting information out as quickly as possible to its supervisors and employees on civilian telework guidance. Telework is an option commanders may consider when making work force decisions in the current emerging environment. This article serves solely as a resource when considering telework, should the need arise.

Specifically, units should first identify the civilian positions that are telework eligible. Next, units should determine employees in telework ready positions have opted to telework (either regularly or on an ad hoc basis). If so, they must have a current telework agreement signed (DD Form 2946), an Alternate Work Agreement in place, and have completed all required training.

The training can be found at the telework.gov site. Frequently asked questions and answers are below.The required forms and links to training can be found on the AFRC/A1CE Coronavirus SharePoint.

Situational (ad hoc) telework agreements with all telework eligible employees are strongly encouraged to maximize future decision space for local commanders. To assist, the AF has also been granted a limited exception to policy from March 8 through Dec. 31, 2020, that allows civilian employees to telework during an emergency (e.g., continuity of operations or other persons requiring care or supervision present at home). Employees must still account for work and non-work hours during the tour of duty and take appropriate leave (paid or unpaid) to account for time spent away from normal work-related duties (e.g., to care for a child or dependent)

The COVID-19 situation is quickly evolving. Senior leadership is empowered to make decisions that balance mission and operational requirements with safety of the force. Further information and guidance will continue to flow as situations flux.

Here is information for Washington DC/Pentagon employees.

Robins Air Force Base/Headquarters AFRC employees can visit the A1CE SharePoint site for forms and guidance.

More information on telecommuting for uniformed service members and their supervisors can be found at AFMAN 36-2136, Chapter 11 and Attachments 4 and 5.

For the latest updates on COVID-19, please visit the AFRC web page here.

Telework Frequently Asked Questions

Q1: Does the employee need a telework agreement before theycan telework?
A1: Yes, the Telework Enhancement Act requires every employee who participates in telework to have a written agreement, regardless of the type of telework. The Federal Government uses telework, among other things, to promote continuity of operations by allowing Federal employees to continue their work at an approved alternative worksite. The Telework Enhancement Act of 2010 defines “telework” or "teleworking” as a work flexibility arrangement under which an employee performs the duties and responsibilities of his or her position, and other authorized activities, from an approved worksite other than the location from which the employee would otherwise work. Telework is a critical tool during emergency situations. OPM has strongly encouraged agencies to maintain a viable telework-ready workforce. This requires determining eligibility for employees to telework, encouraging employees to enter into written telework agreements, communicating expectations before an emergency situation occurs, and practicing and testing equipment and procedures regularly throughout the year, not just teleworking during emergencies that may occur infrequently. Telework arrangements may require collective bargaining obligations for employees represented by labor organizations. Agencies also need to implement and maintain a robust information technology system with the necessary infrastructure to accommodate widespread remote usage of agency systems as well as the accompanying technical support personnel to resolve remote connectivity issues. Agencies should maximize their telework capacity by entering into telework agreements with as many telework-eligible employees as possible and by conducting exercises to test employees’ ability to access agency networks from home. Managers should ensure that there are effective processes in place for communicating efficiently with employees who are teleworking. For additional information on telework, please see the site.

Q2: Is telework voluntary?
A2: Yes. An agency may not compel an employee to telework, even if the duties of the position make that employee "telework eligible." However, although entering into a telework arrangement is voluntary, once the employee is under such an arrangement, he/she may be required to telework outside of his/ her normal telework schedule in the case of a temporary emergency situation if that understanding has been clearly communicated by the agency to the teleworking employee in the written telework agreement.

Q3: Can an agency force an employee to telework?
A3: No. The language of the Telework Enhancement Act supports that telework is a voluntary flexibility. In other words, an agency may not compel an employee to telework even if the duties of the position make that employee "telework eligible." However, although entering into a telework arrangement is voluntary, once the employee is under such an arrangement, he/she may be required to telework outside of his/her normal work schedule in the case of a temporary emergency situation if that understanding has been clearly communicated by the agency to the teleworking employee in the written telework agreement.

Q4: If the employee has a telework agreement in place and the manager requires them to telework during controlled monitoring period, does the employee have the option to refuse to telework?
A4: Yes. The employee will have the option to use leave flexibilities to such as annual leave, advanced leave, etc.