The long awaited Telework Enhancement Act Pilot Program (TEAPP) is finally underway. The program permits employees living farther than 50 miles from the USPTO to telework without regular trips back to headquarters to fulfill reporting requirements. The pilot is of limited duration (seven years from the date of enactment by law and four years based on current General Services Administration approval). Participating employees must agree to pay for travel expenses for up to four business unit trips, one agency-wide required trip and ethics training (if required) spanning up to 10 business days at the USPTO headquarters per year. Employees must also agree to track their travel expenses so that the costs and effectiveness of the pilot can be accurately evaluated.
Phase I applicants may already have been accepted into the program at POPA News print time. Phase I applicants for the POPA bargaining unit include employees who are: 1) already teleworking full time, i.e., only coming to campus to fulfill reporting requirements; 2) participating in a permanent telework program; and 3) living a distance greater than 50 miles from campus on or before Oct. 11, 2011.
Phase II applicants for POPA have also been invited to apply for TEAPP participation. Phase II includes employees who are: 1) already teleworking full time, i.e., only coming to campus to fulfill reporting requirements; 2) participating in a permanent telework program; and 3) living a distance of greater than 50 miles from campus after Oct. 11, 2011. Phase II POPA bargaining unit members will be assigned slots in the TEAPP program by seniority. If all of the employees are unable to be accepted due to a limited number of slots, a waiting list will be established by order of seniority.
After Phase II, employees will be added to the waiting list on a first come, first served basis. On a quarterly basis, additional slots will be made available to maintain participation at a level of 25 percent of the full time teleworking employees in the bargaining unit. This percentage may change in future years based upon evaluation of the program.
In addition to changing employees’ duty station and reporting requirements, TEAPP also places some limitations on employees’ telework activities, such as requiring that the alternate work site be located within the 48 contiguous states and requirements for temporarily working from locations other than an employee’s alternate work site or USPTO headquarters.
POPA encourages all TEAPP participants to thoroughly familiarize themselves with the TEAPP Operating Procedures and other guidelines available to employees. Links to these documents are provided in the “Participant Notification” email sent to each TEAPP participant upon acceptance into the pilot. As always, contact POPA if you have any questions regarding TEAPP.