Remote Work And Telework FAQs

These FAQs clarify many of the questions that have been raised by agencies regarding travel and relocation regulations and how they apply to employees who telework, or are remote workers, and who relocate. These FAQs are not necessarily a complete list; if you have questions you think would be helpful for all Federal employees to know, please submit them to travelpolicy@gsa.gov.

On July 23, 2021, OPM published “Additional Guidance on Post-Reentry Personnel Policies and Work Environment,” which includes a fact sheet (starting on page 21) that gives several examples on how duty station location affects travel and relocation reimbursements. Then, in November 2021, OPM published the 2021 Guide to Telework and Remote Work in the Federal Government [PDF] (“2021 Guide”), which includes an extensive new section on remote work. The section on travel and relocation policy implications begins on page 60.

The FTR is found within Title 41 of the Code of Federal Regulations (CFR), Chapters 300-304, and is available online at https://ecfr.federalregister.gov/current/title-41/subtitle-F.

Key terms, such as agency worksite, official station, telework, and remote work can be found starting on page 10 of the 2021 Guide.

Reimbursement of expenses within the boundary of the employee’s official station or invitational traveler’s home/residence is at the discretion of the agency. Agencies have the authority to establish the local travel area, as long as no part of the area exceeds 50 miles from where the employee regularly performs his or her duties. The FTR does not address local travel, as the Administrator of General Services’ authority to issue regulations under the FTR relates to TDY travel away from the official duty station (5 U.S.C. § 5707) and relocation (5 U.S.C. § 5738).

It depends.

  • If the agency worksite is within the boundary of the employee’s official worksite, the employee’s agency local travel policy will determine what expenses may be reimbursed.
  • If the agency worksite is more than 50 miles from the employee’s official worksite (or otherwise exceeds the boundary of the official station set by agency policy), the employee is entitled to reimbursement of actual and necessary expenses to perform the official business.

Yes, unless exempted by statute (e.g., 5 U.S.C. § 5711). Agencies without an exemption must pay TDY expenses for a remote worker to report to the agency worksite (in this case, the TDY location) if the agency worksite is outside the boundary of the remote employee’s official station (e.g., more than 50 miles away from the employee’s home). Agencies should review multiple factors involved in remote work requests, such as how often and for what purposes it will require the employee to work at the agency worksite, and carefully consider whether to approve remote work arrangements to help manage costs.

No. Statute provides that the Government shall pay actual and necessary travel and mandatory relocation costs (5 U.S.C. §§ 5702, 5724, 5724a). Accordingly, agencies cannot require employees to waive travel and mandatory relocation costs. If an agency authorizes TDY or a relocation (temporary or permanent change of station), that agency is required to pay all entitlements associated with those activities.

Generally, no. If an employee elects to move outside the area of the agency worksite to become a remote worker (and the agency approves), the agency will likely not have to pay relocation expenses for the initial move because the transfer is voluntary and not “in the interest of the Government” (5 U.S.C. § 5724).

Agencies should make voluntary relocation decisions carefully, because if the agency later directs the same employee to relocate to the agency worksite, the transfer is likely to be characterized as “in the interest of the Government” (5 U.S.C. § 5724). However, if the employee is no longer eligible for telework due to the limitations in 5 U.S.C. § 6502(a)(2), such as using agency equipment to view illicit content or not performing at the agency’s defined “fully successful” level (see 2021 Guide [PDF], pgs. 65-66), the agency will not have to pay relocation costs.

Assuming that a remote employee’s local travel area is 50 miles from their residence/official duty station, a remote employee who lives more than 50 miles from the agency worksite must be reimbursed for their travel costs to the agency worksite. However, GSA does not have authority to ensure that the non-remote employee receives a commensurate reimbursement. Agencies determine reimbursement policies that work best for their agency.

For example, if two employees live in the same neighborhood, both 55 miles from the office, and one employee is a remote employee while the other is a teleworker, the remote employee will be reimbursed for travel expenses when they come to the agency worksite, but the other employee won’t. However, the teleworker could receive a transit subsidy benefit, assuming they meet agency guidelines.

Normally, an employee begins and ends TDY travel from their official station/permanent duty station. If they depart from or return to another location for personal convenience, that is considered an “indirect route” (see FTR §§ 301-10.7, 301-10.8) and any extra costs are borne by the traveler. However, if an agency approving official authorizes the alternate route as officially necessary, additional costs for the alternate route will be borne by the agency and not the employee.

A telework employee is not entitled to reimbursement for commuting costs or TDY travel reimbursement for commuting to the official worksite. Commuting is considered personal time, not official Government business. Therefore, employees are not entitled to compensation for their time or transportation costs incurred while commuting.

Last Reviewed: 2022-08-11