Telework Enhancement Act and the federal wallet

As followers of federal telework know by now, the 2010 Telework Enhancement Act has been signed into law.

Mainstream publication Computerworld notes: “with federal pay freezes looming, there is even more reason for federal employees to telework.”

“For federal employees located in the Washington, D.C. area,” according to a blog, “missing the stress of a day a week of traffic (the legislation provides for federal employees to telework up to 20% of the time) may be a good tradeoff for a cost of living increase. Throw in commuting savings, car mileage saved, personal time saved, and Federal employees who telework may just be OK without the 1.4% raise in 2011.”

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Before getting sucked into the pay debate about the “perk of telework,” know that there are at least three points the blog doesn’t make:

  • the proposed pay freeze is for both FY 2011 and FY 2012.
  • many feds may not see any change for up to six months. Agencies will have 180 days to establish a policy on working outside the office.
  • Many feds start seeing a real cut in pay at the end of the month. Unless Congress approves a separate piece of legislation covering tax-cuts, a $230 transit subsidy for employees who use public transportation drops back to $120 a month effective January first, 2011.

Most importantly, telework in the federal government has consistently been touted as more a path to efficiency, cost savings, and an important part of keeping government running during emergencies, than as a perk for federal employees.