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President Obama: Agencies must expand telework, flexible work schedules

Jun. 23, 2014 - 06:00AM   |  
By ANDY MEDICI   |   Comments
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President Obama issued a memo June 23 encouraging agencies to adopt flexible work policies. (Win McNamee / Getty Images)

Agencies need to do a better job offering employees flexible schedules, telework and better access to child care services, according to a June 23 memo issued by President Obama.

Employees requests for a flexible work schedule must be considered within 20 days and agencies will make employees aware periodically of their rights under their collective bargaining agreements, according to the memo.

The Director of the Office of Personnel Management will issue guidance to agencies within 60 days while agencies will have 120 days to amend or establish policies to promote these activities, according to the memo.

Some of the workplace flexibilities agencies must work to expand or provide include:

■Part time employment and job sharing – including on a temporary basis.

■Break times for nursing mothers and private places to nurse as well as time off for adoption and the leave allowed in the Family Medical Leave Act.

■The advancement of annual or sick leave for employees with family or bereavement issues as well as leave transfer programs.

Agencies must also work to expand the available of child, whether it’s the availability of on-site child care or child care subsidies.

Within 180 days of the memo agencies must review its workplace flexibilities and determine if they are doing the most they can, according to the memo.

Within 300 days OPM must issue a report detailing agency best practices regarding workplace flexibilities as well as proposals for which metrics would be needed to track agency progress.

J. David Cox, president of the American Federation of Government Employees, said providing employees with more flexible work arrangements is “common sense” and will mean happier and more productive employees while giving agencies powerful recruiting tools.

But employees have faced opposition to enhanced telework and flexible work from management in the past that have prevented greater use of flexible work, according to Cox.

“With the White House demonstrating leadership in this area, hopefully the walls will begin to crack and federal workplaces will begin to embrace these flexibilities,” he said.

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