Telework Update: President Obama Issues Statement Promoting Telework Expansion
In honor of National Work and Family Month, President Obama yesterday issued a statement promoting workplace flexibilities such as telework, alternative work schedules, and paid leave. His hope for the federal government and private sector is that employers will adopt policies that allow workers to spend more time with their families. Said Obama:
“There are steps we can all take to help – implementing practices like telework, paid leave, and alternative work schedules – and my Administration is committed to doing its part to help advance these practices across the country. And within the federal government, we have followed the lead of many private sector companies when it comes to increasing workplace flexibility. Because at the end of the day, attracting and retaining employees who are more productive and engaged through flexible workplace policies is not just good for business or for our economy – it’s good for our families and our future.”
Two weeks ago, NFFE posted a story detailing how members of Congress and the Administration have recently undertaken a serious push toward what many believe may finally deliver telework opportunities to the federal workforce. On September 29, the Senate unanimously passed compromise legislation, H.R. 1722, which would increase the government’s use of telework in its normal and emergency operations. The bill would require federal agencies to determine which of their employees are eligible to telework, and develop regulations under which they will be allowed to work remotely. A similar version of H.R. 1722 was passed in the House earlier this year, which served as the basis for the compromise package approved last month in the Senate. Though the House failed to vote on the revised bill before departing for campaign season, it is anticipated that the law will see a vote soon after the midterm elections this November.
Administration officials have also been up front with their support of increasing telework in government. From the outset, OPM Director John Berry set a goal of increasing the number of eligible workers by 50 percent between FY 2009 and FY 2011. Ever since, he has encouraged agencies to develop their own telework initiatives aimed at meeting this challenge. With the President’s recent endorsement, there is now little doubt that telework is a top workforce priority for the administration.