Senate Bill Could Make All Federal Employees Eligible for Telework

April 3, 2007 ( - Two U.S. Senators have introduced a measure that could force federal employers - so far sluggish to embrace teleworking - to loosen their restraints by making all federal employees eligible for telework, unless shown otherwise by their employer.

The Telework Enhancement Act of 2007 – SB 1000 – proposed by Senator Ted Stevens, (R-Alaska), and Senator Mary Landrieu, (D-Louisiana), would reverse the current law that says all employees are ineligible to participate in the telework program unless deemed otherwise by their employing federal agency.

According to a news release, the two legislators say the legislation would improve the cost-efficiency of the federal government and the lives of families by allowing federal employees to work from home on a full- or part-time basis depending on eligibility. They also claim the bill will decrease traffic congestion, cut fuel costs, and reduce greenhouse gas emissions by motor vehicles.

Other proposals included in the bill would:

  • Require that one full-time employee be designated by each federal agency as a Telework Managing Officer (TMO) who would be responsible for implementing their respective agency’s telework policy, serve as a liaison between employees and managers, develop accountability and productivity criteria, and keep employees informed of their telework eligibility;
  • Require telework training for new employees and managers; and
  • Ensure that employee reviews include a discussion of telework feasibility for each employee.

A bill passed by the House in July 2006 attempted to impose a $5 million appropriations withholding for certain federal agencies if they did not make efforts to increase their number of telecommuters (See House Votes to Tighten Teleworking Requirements).

A study in January showed that federal managers have been reluctant to allow a greater number of employers work remotely because they fear a drop in productivity and loss of face-to-face contact (See Federal Managers Slow to Embrace Telecommuting ). The study also revealed that 35% of federal managers support the practice of teleworking, while 47% do not.