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HRDG 4368 - Telework Program - Introduction

Subchapter 4368
Telework Program 




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Purpose of this Subchapter This subchapter establishes Telework Program operating guidelines for managers, supervisors, and employees of USDA's Marketing and Regulatory Programs (MRP). MRP includes the Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS), the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS), and the Grain Inspection, Packers and Stockyards Administration (GIPSA). This Subchapter supplements the Telework policies stated in Directive 4368.1.
Eligibility / Suitability
 Updated 09/12

While participation in telework is not an employee entitlement, MRP begins with the presumption that all positions are appropriate for telework, unless the supervisor can document otherwise according to official duties not being suitable for work at an alternative worksite. MRP positions that are not suitable for core telework may still be suitable for situational telework or unscheduled telework on a case-by-case basis or an approved reasonable accommodation.

To participate, employees must have:

  • An approved telework agreement in place prior to the beginning of telework.
  • Completed mandatory telework training.
  • Demonstrated dependability and the ability to handle responsibility.
  • A proven or expected minimum performance rating of “fully successful or equivalent.
  • No formal disciplinary action or adverse action within the preceding 12 months.

Note: For more information regarding disciplinary or adverse actions, please read the Eligibility and Participation section of the Office of Personnel Management's, Guide to Telework in the Federal Government.

  • One or more portable work assignments that are project oriented or easily quantifiable, and
  • The technology and access to work materials to perform their duties remotely.

In addition, employee participation may not adversely affect customers or the workload of other employees.

Description of Program
Updated 11/11
Updated 08/14

The Telework program allows agencies to meet the needs of a changing workforce by providing employees with increased workplace flexibilities. These flexibilities may address many needs which include:

  • Reducing absenteeism,
  • Alleviating traffic congestion,
  • Enhancing recruitment and retention,
  • Balancing work and family life issues,
  • Pursuing educational courses,
  • Accommodating a medical condition,
  • Ensuring continuity of operations in the event of a pandemic health crisis or other emergency,
  • Saving taxpayer dollars by reducing the agency's costs, and
  • Participating in a USDA-sponsored Partnership in Education Program.

The Telework program also helps to conserve energy resources by reducing fuel and other energy consumption, thus reducing USDA's collective carbon footprint.

Agencies must include an appropriate notice in all eligible vacancy announcements when the position is eligible for Telework. For example, “Some or all of the duties of this position can be performed while teleworking.” It is the responsibility of the hiring official to make this determination before the recruitment request is submitted to HRD for processing.

Note: The terms "Telework," "work at home" and "telecommuting" are often used interchangeably. For the purposes of this Subchapter, these terms refer to paid employment at a site other than the traditional office setting.

Participants in the Telework program generally alternate days up to 3 days per week. Program participants and their supervisors will agree upon a Telework schedule for reporting to work at the official duty station and their private residence and/or agency designated satellite office in their local area. The Official Duty Station (ODS) is the conventional Federal office for purposes of travel, relocation, and special salary rates.) 

The type/category and amount of Telework suitable for eligible employees is a determination reserved for agency management, typically the employee’s immediate supervisor. Decisions should be made on an individual case-by-case basis, determined by the nature of the position, job requirements, and mission criteria. Program participants and their supervisors will decide a Telework schedule for reporting to work at the official duty station and their private residence and/or agency designated satellite office in their local area.

Field employees whose private residence is their duty station ARE NOT participants in the Telework program. These employees are duty stationed in the field, travel to various locations to perform their duties, and work out of their homes to prepare reports, correspondence, receive messages, etc.

Note: GIPSA will not include employees whose official duty station is their home. This includes resident agents and auditors.

Updated 08/14

Alternative Work Site. A worksite location, other than the official duty station where an employee performs his/her official duties. Teleworkers may be authorized to work from a number of alternative worksites. Temporary authorizations or changes in the location of the designated alternative worksites do not require a new Telework Agreement.

Core Telework (Regular). Regularly scheduled telework that occurs at least one (1) scheduled day per pay period, on a recurring basis, and is part of an approved work schedule.

Emergency/Mission Critical Teleworker. An employee who is telework eligible and required to continue operations from his/her alternative worksite during emergency situations when the agency/staff office work location is normally closed. This includes, but is not limited to, a health pandemic, inclement weather, power outages, and/or situations associated with national security. An emergency/mission critical teleworker under this definition may or may not be also identified as an essential employee as a condition of employment. Teleworkers under this definition must be identified as such in the telework agreement. 

Emergency Situation. National security situations, extended emergencies, inclement weather, or other unique situations that interrupt or may compromise normal daily operations at, or travel to/from an official or alternative worksite.

Hoteling. Shared office space in an agency location designed for use by Teleworkers.

Local Commuting Area. The geographic area that usually constitutes one area for employment purposes. It includes any population center (or two or more neighboring ones) and the surrounding localities in which people live and can reasonably be expected to travel back and forth daily to their usual employment.

Mobile work. Work which is characterized by routine and regular travel to conduct work in customer or other worksites (site audits, site inspections, investigations, etc.) as opposed to a single alternative worksite. Mobile work is not classified as Telework, but employees who perform mobile work may be eligible to participate in the Telework Program.

Official Duty Station (ODS). The city, town, county, and State in which the employee normally works. For most employees, this will be the location where the employee reports daily, and where most activities are performed.

A teleworker's official duty station would remain unchanged as long as he/she comes into the office at least twice each biweekly pay period on a regular and recurring basis. If the employee does not report in at least twice per pay period and is not on a short-term, temporary agreement of 6 months or less, the official duty station must be changed to the location of the alternative worksite and pay is set accordingly. This regulation is consistent with current law, regulations, and guidance from the Office of Personnel Management (OPM).

The official worksite for employees covered by a telework agreement who are not otherwise scheduled to report to a regular worksite on a recurring basis is the location of the telework site.

EXCEPTIONS: The agency should not change a teleworker's official duty station in short term situations (6 months or less). This also applies to employees who telework for medical reasons and those required to telework during emergency situations.

Remote Telework. A telework arrangement in which the employee resides and works at an alternative worksite location full-time. The arrangement may result in a change in duty location to the alternative worksite (e.g., home).

Situational Telework (Ad hoc). Telework that occurs as needed and the schedule may not be regular and recurring. This type of telework may be used for the same situations as core, but more frequently is used to complete special projects or meet extraordinary deadlines.

Telecenter. A facility equipped with computers, printers, phones, fax, and copy machines. Some telecenters are owned and operated by the General Services Administration (GSA), USDA, and/or State, local, or county governments or private sector organizations for use by teleworkers. There are normally fees associated with the use of a telecenter. GSA telecenters require payments to be made annually by using the Telecommuting Facility Reimbursement Information Sheet.

Telework. The performance of official duties at an alternative work site (i.e., home, telecenter, or other satellite work location). Telework Agreement. A written agreement that outlines the terms and conditions of the telework arrangement between the teleworker and his/her agency. Every teleworker, regardless of type, must have a completed agreement signed by the employee, the supervisor, and/or the approving official prior to teleworking.

Teleworker. An employee who performs his/her official duties at an alternative work location (i.e., home, telecenter, or other satellite work location).

Telework-Ready. Refers to all eligible employees with an approved Telework Agreement and who are prepared and equipped to telework. MRP employees with approved Telework Agreements are required to telework in instances of Federal Office closures.

Unscheduled Telework. Situational telework arrangements that can be used on a temporary basis for allowing telework-ready employees to work from alternative work sites during periods of inclement weather, emergency situations, or for encouraging productivity during other short-term agency or employee needs.


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