Frequently Asked Questions about Telework for Commonwealth Employees

The Commonwealth encourages Executive Branch organizations to support telework programs in appropriate circumstances. Telework programs can help ease traffic congestion, ensure continuity of operations, and improve employee recruitment and retention. Here's what you need to know about your eligibility for telework, rules for remote work, and how to handle the technology side of this alternate work option.

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What is telework?

Telework (also known as telecommuting) is an alternative workplace arrangement which provides employees with the opportunity to work at a place other than their regularly assigned work location.  

Telework does not include work performed by employees who spend significant amount of the workday “in the field” or away from the office, often traveling to and from various indefinite locations in order to best serve the needs of their customers.   

Do I have a right to telework?

While you are encouraged to speak with your supervisor/manager or HR director about teleworking, telework is not a universal employee benefit or an employee right.

Am I eligible for teleworking?

Your eligibility to telework depends on your agency’s telework program, the nature of your job, and your past performance. Some job functions are more appropriate for telework than others.

What is different when I telework?

Your telework arrangement does not change the work you are expected to perform or the hours you are expected to work. You should respond to the needs of your manager, work team, and agency as you would at your assigned work location.

Why telework?

You may find that telework helps you save on commuting time and costs, increase your productivity, and improve your work/life balance.

Are supervisors/managers eligible for teleworking?

Your agency will determine the extent to which it offers a telework program. If you are a supervisor/manager, you are encouraged to consult with agency leadership about whether you may be eligible for telework opportunities.

Where do I find my agency telework program?

To obtain a copy of your agency telework program, please consult your HR director. Follow this link for the Executive Branch telework policy.

If I am a new state employee, can I start teleworking immediately?

No. You may start teleworking only after you complete your probationary period and are otherwise deemed eligible by your supervisor/manager.

If state offices are closed due to inclement weather or some other emergency, do I still telework?

Teleworkers will not be excused from working because workers at their regular work location are dismissed due to an emergency. For example, if a snow emergency is declared on the day an employee is scheduled to telework, the employee is not excused from work and must work as scheduled at home on the approved telework day. 

In addition, employees who have the capability to telework and who are scheduled to go to their regular work location but are unable due to a state of emergency or office closure will be expected to telework to the extent possible.

Any typical limitations on telework regarding dependent care will be suspended under these emergency circumstances.

What happens if my telework day falls on a holiday? Am I entitled to switch my telework day?

Please consult with your supervisor/manager or HR director for guidance as each agency may have its own rules.

Can I telework as a means to provide child or other dependent care needs during the day?

Telework is not a replacement for dependent care. You should arrange for care of dependent children or elders while you are teleworking as you would if you were reporting to the office.

Who is responsible for approving my request to telework?

Each agency maintains its own approval process. Generally, your supervisor/manager must approve your request to telework.

If the supervisor/manager denies my telework request, can I appeal that decision?

No. Telework approval is at the discretion of your supervisor/manager.

Do I need a telework agreement before I can telework?

Yes, you must sign a written agreement every year with your agency.

If I only telework on a case-by-case basis, do I need to have a written telework agreement?

Yes, any employee who teleworks, regardless of frequency, must sign an agency-specific telework agreement every year. 

Can a supervisor/manager suspend or terminate a telework agreement?

Yes. The telework arrangement may be canceled at any time.

Can my schedule be different on my telework days?

Agencies that offer telework may or may not allow for alternative work options like a different work schedule. However, telework is not intended to be used in place of vacation, sick, family and medical, or other types of leave. Requests for time must be approved in advance in accordance with standard operating procedures within your agency. Please consult with your HR director for guidance.

How does a supervisor/manager ensure my telework location is safe; how is an injury claim handled?

It is your responsibility to maintain a clean, safe, and productive home office environment. Failure to maintain safe working conditions will result in termination of telework privileges. If you are injured while performing official duties at the telework site, your claim will be reviewed under applicable Workers’ Compensation laws.

How do I achieve success while teleworking?

To telework successfully, you should focus on:

  • Coping with interruptions and distractions
  • Designating a workspace
  • Completing work assignments on time
  • Working independently without the need for close supervision
  • Keeping your supervisor and co-workers informed about what you are working on and what you have accomplished

Is there telework training available for employees?

Yes. You are encouraged to take these web-based training modules created by the federal government, which offer telework best practices for employees and supervisors/managers. Agencies may offer additional training or require additional training. Check with your supervisor/manager or HR director to discover any additional training your agency may offer.

Is there telework training available for supervisor/managers?

Yes. You are encouraged to take these web-based training modules created by the federal government, which offer telework best practices for supervisor/managers. Agencies may offer additional training or require additional training.

Is there a separate time code in HR/CMS for reporting telework hours?

Yes. You should use the TEL code in HR/CMS to denote any hours spent teleworking under your approved telework agreement. For purposes of employee pay and leave accruals, this code will function exactly as the REG code does.

Refer to the telework job aid for help with coding your timesheet.

What happens if I experience technology or connectivity issues while teleworking?

If you are not able to fulfill your job duties at your telework location, then you must report to your regular office location until you are able to resolve the issues at your telework location. As a first step, please reach out to your agency’s technology help desk and alert your supervisor/manager.

Will the Commonwealth reimburse me for costs associated with teleworking?

No. The Commonwealth is not responsible for operating costs, home maintenance, or any incidental cost (e.g. utilities, cell data, Internet) associated with using your residence for telework. Moreover, the Commonwealth is not liable for any damages to your property that result from participation in the telework program.

Can I use telework while traveling, over holidays, or while sick?

While each agency will establish its own rules for appropriate circumstances for teleworking, telework is not intended to be used in place of vacation, sick, family and medical, or other types of leave. Requests for time must be approved in advance in accordance with standard operating procedures within your agency.

Are there specific policies that govern the technology required for telework?

Yes.  The Executive Office of Technology Services and Security published Enterprise Security Policies and Standards for all Executive Branch Employees.

Of particular note is the Acceptable Use of Information Technology Policy and its sections on the handling of confidential information, the secure transfer of information, information protection requirements, and remote access.

Information for employees accessing Commonwealth resources remotely can be found at the Technical Resources for Remote Access at the Commonwealth.