Senate bill would require agencies to expand teleworking

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Senate bill would require agencies to expand teleworking

This week the Senate passed the Telework Enhancement Act (S.707), which would require federal agencies to expand their teleworking opportunities.   In a press statement issued after the bill passed, co-sponsor Sen. George Voinovich (R-OH) said the bill would “expand telework programs for federal employees and ensure the government keeps running during weather events or emergencies."  The bill requires agencies, within 180 days of final passage, to develop a telework policy, identify eligible employees, and notify employees of their eligibility.  Not every employee would be eligible under the legislation.  Except in emergency situations, the bill would exempt employees whose official duties require, on a daily basis, the direct handling of secure materials or involve an on-site activity that cannot be performed remotely.  The Office of Personnel Management will work with each agency through a designated telework managing officer to develop policies and procedures.  The bill also provides the authority for agencies to conduct a telework travel expenses test program.  Under this proposal, agencies could pay travel expenses for teleworking workers who are required to come to the office more than an established maximum number of times.  The way ahead for a telework bill is somewhat uncertain.  Earlier this month, the House floor took up its telework bill (H.R. 1722), but failed achieve the required number of votes to pass.  However, supporters of the bill point out that the bill was considered under a rule requiring a two-thirds majority.  This time when the bill is brought up they hope it will be considered under normal procedure, which only requires a majority approval vote to pass.

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