Leave, telework, and virtual worker policy

In this policy, your supervisor is your administrative or official supervisor (or their designee).

Leave

Employees must report to work or have leave approved every scheduled work day. Leave requests should be submitted to your supervisor in ALOHA at least three business days in advance. Requests should be submitted for any duration of leave, as little as one hour.

Should an unforeseen emergency or illness arise requiring the use of leave not previously approved, contact your supervisor no later than two hours after the start of your typical work day to request permission for the absence. Unless other arrangements were made, requests for annual or sick leave must be made on each day of absence. Failure to properly request leave in accordance with this procedure may result in the denial of leave and a charge of absence without leave (AWOL), and may be the basis for disciplinary action. Absence without leave is an absence from duty that is not authorized or approved.

Before taking leave, be sure to:

  • Submit leave through ALOHA
  • Update the 18F Out of Office Calendar
  • Notify your Engagement Manager, if you’re on an outside project, so they can update Float
  • Submit correct Tock entries assigned to Annual Leave (or Award Leave, as appropriate)
  • Share via Slack, email or over media with folk who need to know, and make sure work is covered

Annual leave

Annual leave accrues at a different rate depending on how long you’ve worked for the federal government. If you’ve worked for the federal government fewer than three years, you accrue four hours of annual leave per pay period (which equates to 13 days per year). If you’ve worked for the federal government between three and 15 years, you accrue six hours per pay period. After 15 years, you accrue eight hours per pay period.

  • To check your accrual rate, log in to CHRIS, open the “leave” tab, and your leave accrual rate is the number on the “Leave Category” line.

The maximum annual leave you can carry over from calendar year to calendar year is 240 hours. If you transfer from another federal agency, your annual leave transfers with you.

Sick leave

Sick leave accrues at four hours per pay period for all federal employees, regardless of how long they’ve worked for the federal government. There is no maximum amount of sick leave you can accrue, and all unused hours carry over to the next calendar year. If you transfer from another federal agency, your sick leave transfers with you.

Funeral leave

Employees can take 3 days (24 hours) of funeral leave to plan or attend services of an immediate relative who has suffered a combat-related death. Additionally, veterans can take funeral leave to participate in a funeral ceremony for a member of the Armed Forces.

Employees can take up to 13 days (104 hours) per year of sick leave for bereavement, funeral planning, and/or attending the funeral of a family member.

Further funeral leave information can be found in OPM’s Fact Sheets:

Unpaid leave

Employees can request unpaid leave of less than four weeks at any time.

Parental leave

For complete details, see this recent guidance. For a human, readable summary:

Both parents may use their annual or sick leave after the birth of a child, for the period of the mother’s incapacitation. The length of the medically necessary leave is ultimately determined by a doctor’s note, but six weeks for a vaginal birth and eight weeks for a cesarean birth is common. After parents exhaust their annual and sick leave, they can run a sick leave deficit of up to the amount they will accrue during their tenure.

Employees may also apply for annual leave donations from other federal employees within their agency. Leave donations may only be used for a medically necessary leave period, as determined by the doctor’s note. Leave donations from federal employees outside GSA are considered on a case-by-case basis. Additionally, if spouses are both employed by the federal government, they may donate unlimited annual leave to each other, regardless of the agencies they work for. Leave donations can be used to backfill sick leave and annual leave deficits.

In addition to the paid leave described above, employees can take leave without pay (under the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA)) for up to 12 weeks per calendar year. Once you’ve been an employee of the federal government for at least 12 months, you’re eligible to take FMLA, provided your supervisor approves it. You can take this leave within one year of the birth of your child. You do not need to take it all at once. Employees are eligible to take intermittent leave within the first year of their child’s birth. For instance, you could take unpaid leave on Tuesdays and Thursdays for several weeks in a row.

Advanced Leave

You can take up to 80 hours of advanced leave (that is, leave you’ve not accrued yet). You must be able to make it up before the end of the leave year. See the Benefits class for more information.

Religious Observance

Adjusting work schedules for religious observances is handled differently than leave. If you need to miss regular work hours for religious observance, you should notify your supervisor in writing in advance of the time you’ll need to miss, along with the schedule of the time you will work outside of normal hours to compensate. For details, please see the relevant OPM policy.

Telework

Telework provides the flexibility to work from home with the approval of your supervisor. Telework improves morale and productivity by allowing for greater collaboration among peers. 18F recognizes these benefits and encourages the use of telework as described below. This policy adheres to and is in conjunction with GSA’s Telework Policy.

Maximum number of days

18F employees are allowed up to six telework days per pay period, or three days per week. This permits the maximum degree of telework while retaining an in-office physical presence to justify assigned office space and ensure productivity.

A regular teleworker may also be permitted to telework episodically for additional days on a case-by-case basis with supervisor approval. Please have a conversation with your supervisor to determine your ability to telework, as your eligibility may depend on your team or projects.

Culture

While your supervisor is the deciding official for implementing the telework policy, the culture of 18F is to keep project teams, supervisors, and coworkers apprised of your schedule through designated channels (18F Out of Office Calendar and Slack).

Alternative worksite location

It is your responsibility to ensure that your alternative worksite provides the work environment, connectivity, technology, resource access, and security consistent with the work you need to do. It is also your responsibility to be available to your team as you would at an office.

Supervisors retain the authority to overrule an employee’s selection of a particular alternative worksite if that location is not a business appropriate location or if it fails to provide a working environment compliant with the conditions outlined in GSA’s Telework Policy.

Working outside the local commuting area is not permitted without prior approval from your supervisor.

Connectivity

You must have voice and computer connectivity from your alternative worksite. If you experience a power outage or interruption in internet access, in consultation with your supervisor, you may work on other non-equipment-related work, report to the official worksite, or take the appropriate leave.

Keep your supervisor updated about your telework status, either by email or via Slack (for example, “Working from home today, but I’ll be in the office tomorrow!”).

Schedule

You’ll usually get advance notice of at least one business day when you’re required to report to the official worksite on a scheduled telework day. When the stated notice isn’t possible, your supervisor will notify you of the need to report as soon as possible.

Telework schedules may be adjusted by your supervisor to address business needs, including mandatory meetings and office coverage, etc. If this need occurs, you’ll be notified in advance.

Teleworkers are to adhere to the leave procedures set forth by the agency (that is, if you have a doctor’s appointment, you must request and obtain approval for the appropriate leave).

In the event that OPM or the authorized organization in a region announces “Unscheduled Telework” due to inclement weather or other disruption to the official worksite, you must have a computer available to conduct the work and sufficient work to cover the telework period. If you do not have your government issued computer, you can use your personal computer. You also need to notify your supervisor of the decision to telework before the scheduled start of their day.

Security

Personally Identifiable Information (PII) and other secure information, including information protected by the Privacy Act, must be maintained in accordance with the GSA Rules of Behavior for Handling Personally Identifiable Information, Order HCO 2180.1, paragraph 7.

You must successfully complete the following required GSA Online University (OLU) courses on their scheduled dates before beginning or to continue teleworking:

  • Annual Privacy Training 101 and IT Security Awareness
  • Telework Works

Within 90 days of beginning teleworking, you must also take and successfully complete one of the following:

  • Telework Works (for employees)
  • Managing Distributed Teams (for managers)

Sensitive material, including information protected by the Privacy Act, must be viewed only on government issued equipment or via Citrix. No information may be stored or saved to non-government issued equipment.

Your friends and family members are not authorized to use the government issued equipment.

It is your responsibility to ensure that you have all of the necessary files at your telework worksite and that you comply with GSA policies regarding the handling and securing of GSA Records and Files and Personally Identifiable Information.

You may physically transport GSA files to your telework worksite before teleworking. It is your responsibility to safeguard and protect all GSA files in your possession while teleworking and transporting the files.

You may also digitally scan GSA files to create an electronic document, which can be used while teleworking. It is your responsibility to ensure that the electronic document is legible prior to teleworking.

Important points

  • Detailed employees shall enter into telework agreements with their detailed supervisors.
  • Telework is not a substitute for dependent care (such as child care or elder care).
  • Telework is not a substitute for sick leave.
  • While teleworking, you are bound by the Standards of Ethical Conduct while working at the alternative worksite and using government equipment.
  • Teleworking is a privilege and not an entitlement.

Virtual worker agreements

Virtual worker agreements are currently being used when an employee can not be coded to an official office location within their duty station. The 18F Office made use of virtual worker agreements when Washington, D.C. was the only official duty station, yet 18F had employees in other locations (San Francisco, Chicago, Dayton). Once a location has enough people to warrant an official office, a location will be established and people previously considered virtual workers will become teleworkers.

Working in a foreign country

If you need to work while traveling internationally and while in a foreign country:

  1. Get approval from your supervisor providing justification for the need to work in a foreign country.
  2. Complete and submit the GSA Foreign Defensive Travel - Pre Briefing form to the Office of Mission Assurance for approval.
  3. Open a ticket with the IT Help Desk requesting permission to bring your laptop and/or work phone.
    • If you’re working from Europe, ask GSA IT to switch your work phone over to a European network while you’re gone. Note that you’ll be able to get calls and data, but your phone won’t tether.
  4. Once you return from your travel, submit the GSA Foreign Travel - Debriefing form and submit it to the Office of Mission Assurance.

For more information, review the GSA Laptop, Smartphone, and PDA User Policy. Information about using your government mobile device in a foreign country is here.

You can learn about travel alerts and warnings from the Department of State.

Office of Mission Assurance

Find their phone numbers by searching the GSA Staff Directory.

Questions

Is the designee a manager or a project lead?

Your supervisor is your direct/official/administrative supervisor, not your lead.

Is it considered teleworking if I live in San Francisco and work out of our D.C., New York, or Chicago offices?

No. Per GSA’s telework policy, your example would be considered “alternative officing,” or working from a GSA location where you don’t have an assigned workspace. If you’re concerned about working from other GSA offices without obtaining prior approval from your supervisor, the language “outside the local commuting area” covers this. If you’re supposed to be working in San Francisco and decide to fly to Chicago, you would be working outside of your local commuting area, which requires pre-approval.

What is my “local commuting area”?

This is totally subjective and is not defined either in law or GSA policy, though the subjective definition is set in code. Ultimately, it is up to a supervisor to define the local commuting area for a particular team.

How do I get an approved telework agreement?

  1. Complete the Telework Works training through OLU. You’ll need to resubmit your telework agreement (steps 2-3) if you change supervisors.

  2. Access your telework agreement. Your telework coordinator is Citizens Services and Innovative Technologies (X) Telework.

  3. Verify that the information is complete and up to date (including your supervisor, phone number, and office location). If your supervisor information is missing, enter it in the Supervisor field. If your phone number is missing, email accesscard@gsa.gov and ask them to add it to your GCIMS profile.

  4. Submit your form to your supervisor for approval.

  5. If this is your first time submitting a telework agreement, you’ll get an email informing you that your agreement was approved.

How do I find the date I took the Telework training?

In OLU, click on Mandatory trainings and then click My transcript.