By Peter Casciano, Esq.
On March 9, OPM Director Kiran Anuja testified before the House Committee on Oversight and Reform. Among the topics covered by her testimony were improper payments in the Federal Employees Heath Benefits (FEHB) Program, hiring practices, the retirement case back log at OPM and telework.
Telework is a key issue facing many of our clients and potential clients.
As the federal government attempts to tighten the reigns on allowing telework arrangements, many of our disability retirement clients are requesting some version of telework as a reasonable accommodation. In many instances, at a physician’s recommendation, telework is a major tool allowing employees to still provide valuable service that might not be possible if forced to come to the office every day.
And it’s more than just the commute. Environmental factors that exist in a group setting sometimes put my client’s health in further jeopardy. Sometimes that ability to control certain factors at home, like lighting or temperature, are simply not available in an office setting. Sometimes mobility is a huge issue and providing for a safe space to work, like at home, can mean the difference between staying in service and needing to go out on leave.
Regardless of where you come down on the issue of telework, what remains true is that many folks that use telework as a reasonable accommodation to continue working are caught in the middle of a huge debate on Capitol Hill about whether we allow too much telework.
Director Anuja’s testimony was clear that OPM’s position favors telework and does consider working from home valuable service. Another important piece of Director Anuja’s testimony is that OPM has no plans to change the telework policies currently in place at agencies.
One big piece of the policy debate is whether telework is efficient as some claim, or wasteful. OPM has recently put forth the results of a survey (Agencies’ transition to hybrid work shows through in 2022 FEVS results | Federal News Network) with a 35% response rate that ¼ of those who responded telework 3+ days per week. Obviously a 35% response rate calls into question the value of the survey so OPM has indicated that it will soon require agencies to collect and report data on telework.
If you are a federal employee and are currently working under a reasonable accommodation that isn’t working, telework or otherwise, please contact me. I would be happy to provide a detailed consultation discussing these issues and letting you know if we can help. Please contact me at any time.
About Andalman & Flynn, P.C.: Founded in 1998 in downtown Silver Spring, Maryland, Andalman & Flynn has forged a distinguished reputation for legal excellence. The firm represents individuals seeking disability benefits throughout the country and practices family law throughout Maryland and the District of Columbia. The firm focuses on cases that impact the rights of everyone, and are there for clients when responsive legal help is most critical. The firm has provided legal analysis on national and local television and radio, and their attorneys often testify before legislative bodies and are routinely invited to contribute to prominent legal publications. For more information about Andalman & Flynn, please visit the website at andalmanflynn.com or call 301.563.6685.