Excel as a High-Performing Agency

New guidance on Telework Memorandum of Understanding

Hopefully you all are aware that effective Sept. 21, 2018, we have a negotiated Memorandum of Understanding between the Forest Service and the National Federation of Federal Employees regarding implementation of the USDA Telework Program Departmental Regulation (DR 4070-811-002). This new telework MOU is part of the OneUSDA initiative aimed at balancing customer service with employee flexibility while achieving a greater physical presence in all USDA offices.

All employees not in a bargaining unit and all employees in bargaining units represented by the American Federation of Government Employees and the National Association of Government Employees have been following the USDA Telework Program Departmental Regulation. Employees in bargaining units represented by NFFE are now covered by the Departmental Regulation and the MOU.

Naturally, many of you are wondering how this affects you going forward, and this change will likely affect some of you more than others. I want to take this opportunity to explain the reasons for the change and to direct you to where more information can be found.

Overall, the core idea behind this agreement is to meet the Department’s request to have greater employee presence in our offices, while still considering the work-life balance of our employees. I know this is a big change, especially for some of our more remote employees. That’s why we have worked together with the union to find a reasonable balance of those two interests, which sometimes conflict.

Forest Service Leadership and Union bargaining teams have jointly developed guidance on the MOU, which is available on the HRM Labor Relations webpage – Information on Telework for NFFE BUES. The guidance provides more details for employees on flexible work schedules, unscheduled/situational/ad hoc telework, and telework as a condition of employment and examples of situations. 

We understand this is a lot of new information. If you have questions, you can work with your supervisor, telework coordinator, or Human Resources Labor Relations staff. They are here to help you understand this new policy and its impact on you. We know that our employees already provide good customer service, and this new policy will make it easier to ensure we always have employees present in our offices to fulfill the portion of our agency’s motto that reminds us to serve people.

NFFE Bargaining Unit Employees and their supervisors should review the following documents:

More information will be provided as we implement the revised telework program.