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House Approves NTEU-Supported Telework Legislation

Wednesday, July 14 2010

Washington D.C. —Today’s approval by the House of Representatives of federal telework legislation sets the stage for a welcome and much-needed potential expansion of telework among federal employees, said President Colleen M. Kelley of the National Treasury Employees Union (NTEU).

NTEU has been the leading advocate for expanded telework opportunities among federal workers and supported H.R. 1722, a bipartisan bill sponsored by Reps. John Sarbanes (D-Md.), Frank Wolf (R-Va.) and Gerald Connolly (D-Va.). “Passage of this legislation is a terrific step forward for employees, their agencies and the public,” President Kelley said. “Increasing federal telework saves gas, reduces road congestion and improves work-life balance.”

The House now joins the Senate in actively pushing federal agencies to increase telework opportunities among federal workers. The Senate approved similar legislation in May, which NTEU also supported. Minor differences in the two bills will need to be reconciled before final passage.

The companion bills require agencies to have a written telework policy and to appoint a telework managing officer. Additionally, the legislation would expand telework opportunities for greater numbers of federal workers by ensuring that all those eligible for telework could do so.

The legislation also creates a pilot program for trademark attorneys at the Patent and Trademark Office (PTO) that cuts down on the number of days employees who telework from outside the commuting area are required to come into the office.

President Kelley, who sent a letter earlier this week urging every member of the House to vote yes on the legislation, noted that a recent survey of federal employees showed that only 10 percent telework at least one day a week. The same report said that an additional 23 percent would do so if permitted by their agency.

NTEU has not only encouraged expanded telework opportunities generally among federal agencies, it has pushed them both to develop well-defined programs with eligibility guidelines agreed to in negotiations with employee representatives and to generate increased support from all levels of management, but most particularly from those at the front lines of the workplace.

“I am confident that as more and more front line and middle managers become willing to accept telework as a valuable tool to help accomplish their agency’s mission, the built-in success of these programs will feed on itself and lead, in turn, to still more telework opportunities throughout government. Everyone wins with a well-designed, effective telework program,” President Kelley said

As the largest independent federal union, NTEU represents 150,000 employees in 31 agencies and departments.

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