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HHS

The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) is the United States government's principal agency for protecting the health of all Americans and providing essential human services, especially for those who are least able to help themselves.

Source: www.hhs.gov/about/

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AirborneMP  
#1 Posted : Friday, April 12, 2019 3:02:51 AM(UTC)

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Good morning, In working in the IT Field for HHS I was asked to sign a Telework agreement. Usually and every place Federally I have worked, I have needed one. This particular Position is different because i cannot physically do my job if I am at an alternate Work Station.
I work in the IT Field. The Network I work on is totally closed off for Security Reasons and there is no way currently set up to get into this Network from outside the building.

My Supervisor is requesting that I sign a Telework agreement for Contingency Etc, even though, per the Telework act I could not possibly do my job there.
He has officially made the request for me to sign it an order.

Also, there is another IT Person on the other end of the building. This person Teleworks every Friday. I am not afforded the same opportunities as her.

There is much more to this situation, I just needed some insight on what to do. Never been in this situation before.

Thank you,
Tic3  
#2 Posted : Friday, April 12, 2019 3:59:01 AM(UTC)

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Originally Posted by: AirborneMP Go to Quoted Post
Good morning, In working in the IT Field for HHS I was asked to sign a Telework agreement. Usually and every place Federally I have worked, I have needed one. This particular Position is different because i cannot physically do my job if I am at an alternate Work Station.
I work in the IT Field. The Network I work on is totally closed off for Security Reasons and there is no way currently set up to get into this Network from outside the building.

My Supervisor is requesting that I sign a Telework agreement for Contingency Etc, even though, per the Telework act I could not possibly do my job there.
He has officially made the request for me to sign it an order.

Also, there is another IT Person on the other end of the building. This person Teleworks every Friday. I am not afforded the same opportunities as her.

There is much more to this situation, I just needed some insight on what to do. Never been in this situation before.

Thank you,


What to do? Sign the agreement.


DaVinci95  
#3 Posted : Friday, April 12, 2019 10:46:44 AM(UTC)
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You cannot be forced to telework per OPM. If your supervisor continues to insist on it, ask him for the policy requiring it.

Also, has your supervisor explained what he expects you to do while teleworking if you can't access the network you work on?
Endless Summer  
#4 Posted : Friday, April 12, 2019 11:56:18 AM(UTC)
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Originally Posted by: AirborneMP Go to Quoted Post
Good morning, In working in the IT Field for HHS I was asked to sign a Telework agreement. Usually and every place Federally I have worked, I have needed one. This particular Position is different because i cannot physically do my job if I am at an alternate Work Station.
I work in the IT Field. The Network I work on is totally closed off for Security Reasons and there is no way currently set up to get into this Network from outside the building.

My Supervisor is requesting that I sign a Telework agreement for Contingency Etc, even though, per the Telework act I could not possibly do my job there.
He has officially made the request for me to sign it an order.

Also, there is another IT Person on the other end of the building. This person Teleworks every Friday. I am not afforded the same opportunities as her.

There is much more to this situation, I just needed some insight on what to do. Never been in this situation before.

Thank you,


I may be confused... You seem to be complaining that your boss is requiring you to sign a telework agreement even though you cannot do your job remotely, but you are also upset that someone else does get to telework while you can't? You need to familiarize yourself with your office's telework policy. In my last agency, every supervisor could set their own telework policy for their staff, and they did.

Before you can be deemed telework eligible, you should have to go through the appropriate training explaining the rules. Teleworking is a privilege, not a right or an obligation. As DaVinci noted, you cannot be forced to telework.
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TheUnderverse15 on 4/15/2019(UTC)
GWPDA  
#5 Posted : Sunday, April 14, 2019 8:58:39 AM(UTC)
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"Telework eligible" is a set job availability, not an award. A job is either pre-set as telework eligible or it is not. Whether and how the eligibility is exercised is something agreed to between management and employee.

What the questioner is asking is why s/he is being told to sign an agreement for something that is impossible while at the same time another person equally unable to do the work long distance is actually doing the impossible every Friday.

My answer is close to the above - you can't actually be ordered to sign the agreement, but it probably doesn't matter if you do. As to the rest, it looks very much as tho something faintly fragrant is going on and you would be wise to stick strictly to the rules and regs.
thanks 2 users thanked GWPDA for this useful post.
TheUnderverse15 on 4/15/2019(UTC), SD Analyst on 4/16/2019(UTC)
Endless Summer  
#6 Posted : Sunday, April 14, 2019 11:49:04 PM(UTC)
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Originally Posted by: GWPDA Go to Quoted Post
...What the questioner is asking is why s/he is being told to sign an agreement for something that is impossible while at the same time another person equally unable to do the work long distance is actually doing the impossible every Friday.

My answer is close to the above - you can't actually be ordered to sign the agreement, but it probably doesn't matter if you do. As to the rest, it looks very much as tho something faintly fragrant is going on and you would be wise to stick strictly to the rules and regs.


I didn't read it as though the other IT person did the same job with the same networks but if that's true then the boss seems to be pleased with the fact that they cannot access the system on Fridays.

I'm still confused by the two statements... "I'm being required to telework, this is wrong" and "Why can't I telework like the other person in the building?"

To the OP, I have to assume your supervisor knows what you do and the restrictions placed on your work. They are telling you that it's OK to not be able to access the network on Fridays. Roll with it.

But still, you cannot be forced to telework.
Tic3  
#7 Posted : Monday, April 15, 2019 4:42:21 AM(UTC)

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Originally Posted by: DaVinci95 Go to Quoted Post
You cannot be forced to telework per OPM. If your supervisor continues to insist on it, ask him for the policy requiring it.

Also, has your supervisor explained what he expects you to do while teleworking if you can't access the network you work on?


Signing an agreement to have it on file as part of a contingency plan does not equal being forced to telework.

In the event of an emergency, you may be required to set up another network for your office at a remote location. You may be required to provide network assistance at other remote locations. You may be required to do all sorts of work-related tasks from remote locations as part of a continuity of operations contingency plan.

Having as signed telework agreement on file may be a requirement of the contingency plan.

Edited by user Monday, April 15, 2019 11:38:22 AM(UTC)  | Reason: typo

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SD Analyst on 4/16/2019(UTC)
rbr  
#8 Posted : Monday, April 15, 2019 2:10:21 PM(UTC)
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Originally Posted by: AirborneMP Go to Quoted Post
Good morning, In working in the IT Field for HHS I was asked to sign a Telework agreement. Usually and every place Federally I have worked, I have needed one. This particular Position is different because i cannot physically do my job if I am at an alternate Work Station.
I work in the IT Field. The Network I work on is totally closed off for Security Reasons and there is no way currently set up to get into this Network from outside the building.

My Supervisor is requesting that I sign a Telework agreement for Contingency Etc, even though, per the Telework act I could not possibly do my job there.
He has officially made the request for me to sign it an order.

Also, there is another IT Person on the other end of the building. This person Teleworks every Friday. I am not afforded the same opportunities as her.

There is much more to this situation, I just needed some insight on what to do. Never been in this situation before.

Thank you,


There is a lot going on in this post.....

First it is ironic that you are complaining about being forced to telework then are griping about how you can't do it as often as your co-worker

Second, telework agreements are voluntary per regulation. You can't be forced to sign one regardless of what your supervisor says. I personally don't have one myself because I don't want to deal with the hassle that it entails.

Third, my agency has two different telework plans. Plan A you have a set day of the week in which you "telework" while Plan B you are given 8 days of the year in which you can use at your discretion. Problem with Plan B is you are still required to telework when the government closes which I think is a ripoff. It sounds like your coworker has Plan A and you are being offered Plan B.

Don't sign the agreement if you don't want to because it is hard to take it back until you have to renew it. If you give your supervisor enough pushback he should relent.
birdonamission  
#9 Posted : Monday, April 15, 2019 4:17:01 PM(UTC)
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It's usually the other way around--an employee complaining that an employer (supervisor) won't approve telework...lol.

But, yeah...telework is not an entitlement, but neither can it be compelled.

---

From telework.gov:

Can an agency force an employee to telework?

No. The language of the Telework Enhancement Act does not contain language that would lead us to revise our understanding 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. Also, it is important to remember the intent of the Act is to promote the use of telework so agencies and managers should make every effort to encourage employees and managers to telework as appropriate.
birdonamission  
#10 Posted : Monday, April 15, 2019 4:32:50 PM(UTC)
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Originally Posted by: rbr Go to Quoted Post
Plan B you are given 8 days of the year in which you can use at your discretion. Problem with Plan B is you are still required to telework when the government closes which I think is a ripoff.


Interesting... I agree - what kind of deal is that? LOL

8 whole days in an entire year (sure, you can take them whenever you want, but that amounts to ~one day every 6 weeks). Big woo. And you're still bound by virtue of having a telework agreement to work if the government is closed because of bad weather or whatever.

If it's several days in a pay period, yeah, it's more of a fair trade-off (work-life balance). But once every month and a half, basically?
Thanks, but no thanks.

I'd rather just take AL for those 8 disparate days and be done with it.

rbr  
#11 Posted : Tuesday, April 16, 2019 3:53:15 AM(UTC)
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Originally Posted by: birdonamission Go to Quoted Post
Originally Posted by: rbr Go to Quoted Post
Plan B you are given 8 days of the year in which you can use at your discretion. Problem with Plan B is you are still required to telework when the government closes which I think is a ripoff.


Interesting... I agree - what kind of deal is that? LOL

8 whole days in an entire year (sure, you can take them whenever you want, but that amounts to ~one day every 6 weeks). Big woo. And you're still bound by virtue of having a telework agreement to work if the government is closed because of bad weather or whatever.

If it's several days in a pay period, yeah, it's more of a fair trade-off (work-life balance). But once every month and a half, basically?
Thanks, but no thanks.

I'd rather just take AL for those 8 disparate days and be done with it.



Yea its ridiculous....What's even worse is the days you take are at your supervisors discretion so you could also get denied and have to burn leave depending on your supervisor. A lot of new people at the agency get strong-armed into signing this agreement so that they can be "telework ready" but my view is that it is the agencies responsibility to be open so that I can come do my job, not the other way around
birdonamission  
#12 Posted : Tuesday, April 16, 2019 5:28:54 AM(UTC)
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Originally Posted by: rbr Go to Quoted Post
Originally Posted by: birdonamission Go to Quoted Post
Originally Posted by: rbr Go to Quoted Post
Plan B you are given 8 days of the year in which you can use at your discretion. Problem with Plan B is you are still required to telework when the government closes which I think is a ripoff.


Interesting... I agree - what kind of deal is that? LOL

8 whole days in an entire year (sure, you can take them whenever you want, but that amounts to ~one day every 6 weeks). Big woo. And you're still bound by virtue of having a telework agreement to work if the government is closed because of bad weather or whatever.

If it's several days in a pay period, yeah, it's more of a fair trade-off (work-life balance). But once every month and a half, basically?
Thanks, but no thanks.

I'd rather just take AL for those 8 disparate days and be done with it.



Yea its ridiculous....What's even worse is the days you take are at your supervisors discretion so you could also get denied and have to burn leave depending on your supervisor. A lot of new people at the agency get strong-armed into signing this agreement so that they can be "telework ready" but my view is that it is the agencies responsibility to be open so that I can come do my job, not the other way around


Good grief. That deal is getting worse by the minute. I would definitely advise people, especially the new ones, to get really familiar with agency telework policy and the overall intent of the program so they're aware of the actual purpose of the program (which is supposed to be mutually beneficial when done right) and can see through stuff like this "deal," which is great for the supervisor but no so much for the employee.

Telework.gov is a good, user-friendly reference with FAQs and other explanations...
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