Incidental, Informal, and Emergency Telework

Understand the exceptions to formal telework arrangements.

Although the intention is for a department’s telework program to be formal and documented, there are instances when a department allows incidental teleworking.

Incidental Telework

Incidental telework is defined as an unplanned situation causing an employee to request to temporarily work from an alternate work location. Incidental telework may be permitted at a department’s discretion.

Incidental telework is approved in advance on a case-by-case basis, where the hours scheduled to be teleworked are not part of a previously approved, ongoing and regular telework schedule. Examples of incidental telework include telework as a result of inclement weather, or special work assignments.

Informal Telework

Informal telework is defined as arrangements without a formal documented Telework Agreement. Departments shall prohibit ongoing informal telework arrangements, as outlined in the Statewide Telework Policy.

Emergency Telework

Emergency telework arrangements due to unforeseen circumstances, either at the department or state level, may be entered into at a department’s discretion and do not require a formal telework agreement to initiate. A telework agreement should be completed as soon as practicable to formalize work hours, communication, equipment, and any other employee expectations if the circumstances are likely to continue for a foreseeable duration. The key to successful use of telework in the event of an emergency is an effective routine telework program.

Emergency telework is a key component in ensuring the performance of essential government functions during national or local emergencies such as natural disasters, security incidents, or other situations that may disrupt normal operations. Telework should be a part of all departmental emergency planning. Telework allows employees to conduct some or all of their work at an alternate work location away from the employee’s typically used office since that may not be viable during an emergency.

Executive Order S-04-06 requires that departments continue to maintain continuity plans. A department’s continuity plan should include:

    • information on who is expected to telework in an emergency.
    • what is expected of teleworkers in the event of an emergency.

The Governor’s Office of Emergency Services (Cal OES) provides guidance and tools for departments to enhance and maintain their continuity plans.

In summary, departmental telework programs should support continuity and emergency plans by clearly defining expectations for teleworking employees during emergency situations. Departments should have procedures defined for employees to follow when emergency events occur that may involve closure of the official worksite, alternate worksite, etc.

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