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HUD   >   Program Offices   >   Chief Human Capital Officer   >   Jobs   >   Telework   >   Telecommuting Program Policy Guide
Telework Program Policy Guide

 -   Overview
 -   Work Schedules for Telecommuters
 -   The Telecommuter's Home Office Space
 -   Information Technology

 

OVERVIEW
1.0

1.0.1 AUTHORITY:

The telework options described herein are established in accordance with the guidelines and procedures established by the U.S. Office of Personnel Management and the General Services Administration (GSA).

1.0.2 COVERAGE:

These policies and procedures apply to all full-time employees, except managers and supervisors, in HUD Offices represented by the American Federation of Government Employees (AFGE).

1.0.3 IMPACT ON WORK SCHEDULES:

These policies and procedures have no impact on the current work schedule provisions governing covered employees.

1.0.4 DEFINITIONS:

  • Alternative Work Site - a work site other than the traditional office, which for this program may be the employee's residence or a GSA approved Telework Center.

  • Hoteling - is a central location where many mobile or remote workers who need a place to work, but do not need a permanent desk/office, can use work space and equipment on an as-needed basis. Hoteling can be by reservation, or on a first-come basis.

  • Mobile Virtual Office - provides office functionality at multiple locations and/or environments (e.g., hotel, car, or even home) and permits roaming without loss of office capabilities, in support of activities that are primarily in the field.

  • Official Business Hours - the period each day when the Office is officially open for business.

  • Satellite Office - a telecommuting arrangement which allows for an equipped remote office arrangement shared by multiple workers in the same geographical area, but distant from the usual business office.

  • Telecommuting - a supervisor-approved option that allows an employee an opportunity to perform duties during the established regular/flexible work hours at an alternative work site during an agreed upon portion of the work week, under the provisions of the Department’s Telework Program.

  • Work-at-Home - an arrangement that allows an employee to work from the home in a designated work space/area, two or three days per week.

1.0.5 BENEFITS

Telecommuting is designed to benefit employees, managers and the community by decreasing work trip vehicle miles, traffic/parking congestion, energy consumption and air pollution; improving the quality of work life and performance; and improving morale by assisting employees in balancing work and family demands.

PROGRAM ADMINISTRATION AND EVALUATION RESPONSIBILITIES
1.1

1.1.1 Managers/Supervisors Responsibilities

Each manager and supervisor is responsible for evaluating the impact of the Telework Program.

1.1.2 Modification/Termination of a Telecommuting Agreement:

An employee's off-site work must not adversely affect the organizational mission/functions. If, at any time, it is determined that a telecommuting arrangement is having an adverse impact on work operations, the arrangement may be modified or terminated within a reasonable period of time. The determination must not be unreasonable or arbitrary and must be consistent for like circumstances.

Any violation of the terms of the Agreement or of the policies/procedures governing Telework may result in termination of the telecommuting agreement.

GENERAL RULES
1.2

1.2.1 PREREQUISITE TRAINING:

The supervisor and the interested employee(s) must have completed telecommuting training/orientation, prior to initiating consideration of an application for participation in the Telework Program.

1.2.2 SUPERVISORY APPROVAL TO PARTICIPATE:

Participation in the Telework Program is voluntary. However, the supervisor is responsible for determining if a position is appropriate for telecommuting and approving the employees' participation, consistent with the guidelines and fair treatment for all employees..

In the case of the denial of a request to telecommute, a written explanation of the reasons for the denial will be provided, if requested by the employee.

1.2.3 FORMAL EMPLOYEE REQUEST/APPLICATION TO TELECOMMUTE:

An employee must submit a written request to participate in the Telework Program. The request must indicate that the prerequisite training has been completed; the type of telecommuting arrangement desired; the nature of work to be performed; and any related requests (e.g., for equipment, furniture, or anticipated reimbursement for long distance telephone calls, etc.).

The employee must also attach a copy of the completed Telecommuting Personal Screener.

1.2.4 VOLUNTARY WORK AGREEMENT:

Use of the Telecommuting Agreement is required for all participants and constitutes an agreement by the employee to adhere to applicable guidelines, policies and procedures.

As a voluntary arrangement between employee and supervisor, either party may terminate the arrangement with notice.

1.2.5. FINALIZING THE TELECOMMUTING AGREEMENT

The Telecommuting Agreement must also be signed by the Director of the Computer Services, Operations, and Maintenance Group (for Headquarters employees), or the designated Information Technology Division (ITD) representative (for field office employees). A copy of the completed and signed Telecommuting Agreement must be forwarded to the Program Office's assigned Telework Coordinator at HUD Headquarters.

1.2.6 ABSENCES FROM THE ALTERNATIVE WORK SITE:

During the regular duty hours, absences from the alternative work site (e.g., visits on official business to attend meetings or use of annual or sick leave, etc.) must be coordinated with and approved by the supervisor at the earliest time practicable.

1.2.7 CHILD/ELDER CARE:

Working at home is NOT a substitute for child and/or elder care.

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WORK SCHEDULES FOR TELECOMMUTERS
2.0

2.1.1 SUPERVISORY APPROVAL OF THE WORK SCHEDULE:

Supervisors must approve telecommuting schedules in advance to ensure that the employee's time and attendance can be properly certified and to preclude any liability for premium or overtime pay.

The Telecommuting Agreement must be used to document an approved telecommuting arrangement and it must identify the type of work schedule and the days the employee will work in each work setting.

2.1.2 WORK SCHEDULE CHOICES/CHANGES:

The work schedule choices/changes for a telecommuter must be in accord with the Department's governing policies and procedures, including the provisions for work schedule changes outlined in the Alternative Work Schedules Desk Guide.

2.1.3 NUMBER OF WORK DAYS IN THE OFFICE AND AT HOME OR IN A SATELLITE OFFICE:

To ensure that the employee is available in the office during the week for face-to-face meetings and access to facilities. each work agreement must provide for a minimum of two days in the office and work at home or in a satellite office on no more than three days a week.

2.1.4 PREMIUM PAY:

There are no provisions for self-approved overtime. Therefore, eligible telecommuters must ensure that overtime is properly approved prior to working beyond their scheduled hours of work.

Official work schedules determine the entitlement to premium pay.

HOURS OF DUTY, ABSENCE, AND LEAVE FOR TELECOMMUTERS
2.2

2.2.1 HOURS OF DUTY:

Eligible telecommuters must work tours of duty that are consistent with the established hours of duty for the Office or the Alternative Work Schedules Program.

2.2.2 SPECIFIC AT-HOME DAYS:

Each work agreement may provide for work at home on no more than three days a week.

The Telecommuting Agreement must identify the specific days the employee will work in each work setting.

Arrangements where employees work at home at will are NOT permitted.

2.2.3 LEAVE:

The policies for requesting annual leave, sick leave, or leave without pay remain unchanged.

The employee is responsible for requesting approval of leave in advance, in writing.

When an employee knows in advance of a situation that would preclude working at home, either time in the office or leave must be scheduled.

2.2.4 ABSENCES FROM THE ALTERNATIVE WORK SITE:

During the regular duty hours, absences from the alternative work site (e.g., visits on official business to attend meetings, etc.) must be coordinated with and properly approved by the supervisor at the earliest time practicable.

2.2.5 EXCUSED ABSENCES:

Although a variety of circumstances may affect individual circumstances, the Departmental policies governing excused absence, dismissals, and closings remain unchanged.

The ability to conduct work and the nature of any impediments, whether at home or at the office, determine when an employee may be excused from duty.

2.2.6 EMERGENCY ARISES AT THE OFFICE:

If an employee is working at home, and the office closes due to an emergency situation, such as severe weather conditions, power outage, etc., the telecommuter will continue to work until the end of the scheduled work day, unless the emergency condition also impacts the employee's home work site.

2.2.7 EMERGENCY ARISES AT THE HOME WORK SITE:

When an emergency affects the area of the home work site for a major portion of the workday, the supervisor may require the employee to report to the office; approve annual leave, leave without pay, accumulated compensatory time /credit hours; or grant up to 1 hour of excused absence, if appropriate.

TIME AND ATTENDANCE REPORTING PROCEDURES FOR Telework
2.3

2.3.1 TIME AND ATTENDANCE REPORTING:

Time and attendance reporting procedures will remain the same for employees who telecommute.

2.3.2 VERIFICATION:

Supervisors must employ methods which provide for a reasonable assurance that telecommuters are working when scheduled, are paid for work performed, and that absences from scheduled tours of duty are accounted for (e.g., through e-mail communication; by determining the reasonableness of the work output for the time spent; etc.).

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THE TELECOMMUTER'S HOME OFFICE SPACE
3.0

3.1.1 DESIGNATED WORK SPACE:

Prospective telecommuters must have a designated work space for performance of their work-at-home duties.

Work space requirements will vary depending on the nature of the work and the equipment needed to perform the work.

At a minimum, the employee should be able to communicate by telephone with the supervisor during the work-at-home day.

3.1.2 TELECOMMUTER SAFETY CHECKLIST:

Each prospective telecommuter must provide the Self-Certification Checklist that certifies that the home is safe, prior to beginning work under the Agreement.

Employees are responsible for ensuring that their home space complies with health and safety requirements; is clean and free from obstructions; complies with all building codes; and is free of hazardous materials.

3.1.3 NONCOMPLIANCE WITH SAFETY GUIDELINES:

A supervisor may deny an employee the opportunity to participate or may terminate a telecommuting agreement based on safety problems in the home or evidence of hazardous materials in the home.

3.1.4 HOME UTILITIES:

Home utility costs associated with working at home are not paid by HUD.

COMMUNICATION TIPS
3.2

3.2.1 INTRODUCTION:

To reduce employee isolation, supervisors should ensure that efforts are made to keep the employee abreast of what is going on in the office while they are off-site.

3.2.2 TELEPHONE COMMUNICATION:

Developing fixed times during the day for supervisor/employee telephone conversations may be helpful to ensure ongoing communication.

3.2.3 STAFF MEETINGS:

Where practical, staff meetings should be held on days when telecommuters are scheduled to be in the office, or accessible via telephone.

3.2.4 LONG DISTANCE TELEPHONE CALLS:

Eligible telecommuters may be reimbursed for the use of their personal phone for business-related long distance telephone calls from home, using the SF-1164, Claim for Reimbursement for Expenditures on Official Business.

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INFORMATION TECHNOLOGY
4.0

4.0.1 APPROVAL AND FUNDING OF EQUIPMENT:

Employees who are approved to be telecommuters will be provided with his/her own notebook computer unless the telecommuter has high-speed Internet access at their home or Alternate Work Site and elects to use their own equipment.

4.0.2 TYPE OF EQUIPMENT:

If HUD equipment is provided to approved telecommuters, equipment to be used includes: a standard HUD notebook computer; HUD standard office system software, and a docking station which includes a keyboard, monitor, and external mouse. The notebook with docking station will replace the employee's desktop computer as the employee's HUD workstation.

If telecommuter has high-speed Internet access at their home or Alternate Work Site, telecommuter may use their personal home computer for telecommuting purposes.

4.0.3 SOFTWARE/FUNCTIONALITY PROVIDED

The equipment (identified in section 4.0.2 above) will be configured with the HUD standard operating system and office automation software including access to HUD's email system; HUD's Intranet/Internet; and virus scanning software.

4.0.4 TELECOMMUNICATIONS AND CONNECTIVITY

If HUD equipment is provided to approved telecommuters, dial-in access will be provided to the HUD local area network (LAN). Telecommuters will dial into a local or an 800 number, which will connect them to their Program Office server, and as needed, from the server to other application systems. This connectivity requires availability of a standard telephone line at home or Alternate Work Site. HUD will not fund any additional telephone lines at the user's home or Alternate Work Site.

If telecommuter has high-speed Internet access at their home or Alternate Work Site, access will be granted to the Department's Telework Login web site. HUD will not fund the high-speed service at the user's home or Alternate Work Site.

Both options enable the telecommuter access to the HUD email system, work folders and files on their office file server(s), providing them with the capability to work "virtually" outside of the office.

4.0.5 INSTALLATION AND SUPPORT OF EQUIPMENT AND SOFTWARE

All HUD-provided notebook computers will be pre-configured with HUD standard software by local IT staff and provided to the employee. There will be no Alternate Work Site visits by IT or contractor staff. If there is a problem with the hardware or software applications on the telecommuter equipment, the employee is required to call the HITS Help Desk at 1-888-297-8689. A technician will provide support via the telephone. If the problem cannot be resolved over the telephone, the employee is required to bring the equipment on-site the next workday so that HITS support staff can troubleshoot and resolve the problem.

4.0.6 TRAINING ON REMOTE USE OF STANDARD SOFTWARE

A basic training guide will be provided to the approved teleworkers. The guide will cover basic remote access and remote computing operations. Informal and interactive (one-on-one) training will be provided by HITS support staff, upon request. The informal training will basically cover the same material contained in the guide; but will be more individualized, depending upon the employee's needs.

4.0.7 HOURS OF SUPPORT

For both Headquarters and field office telecommuters, HITS support is available Monday-Friday from 7am-8pm eastern U.S. time. Telecommuters should not expect after-hours and weekend support.

4.0.8 USE OF EQUIPMENT FOR GOVERNMENT PURPOSES

Telecommuters are authorized to use HUD equipment and software only for Government business. HUD provided equipment will not be used under any circumstances for personal or non-Government business. Also, software loaded on the HUD provided computer, may not be copied to personal (home) computers. Telecommuters must ensure that all HUD information is protected under the terms of the Privacy Act and HUD ADP security requirements.

If a telecommuter is utilizing a personal home computer for telecommuting purposes, they are strictly prohibited from copying HUD related documents to the hard/floppy drive of the home computer. While the home computer is used for HUD telecommuting purposes, the telecommuter is also strictly prohibited from installing pier-to-pier software (i.e. LimeWire, Napster, etc), which enables internet file sharing, commonly used in the sharing of music files with the internet community at large.

4.0.9 UPGRADE/ALTERATION OF EQUIPMENT

HUD-provided equipment must not be altered or upgraded in any way (expanded memory, etc.), except by HITS support staff.

4.0.10 ACCOUNTABILITY FOR LOSS OR DAMAGE

Telecommuters are responsible for taking reasonable precautions in preventing any loss or damage to HUD-provided equipment that is issued to them and HUD data files and documents. If HUD provided equipment is lost, stolen, or damaged due to negligence, the employee may be held accountable for replacement.