Settlement of National Grievance for Implementation of an OCR-wide Telework Policy

Sometimes the best apology is changed behavior

Because NTEU invoked arbitration on two telework grievances directly related to ORA Southwest Region’s unilateral implementation of a regional telework policy limiting BUEs to episodic telework for up to only two days per week, I am sharing this case to provide you with CBA interpretation.

On March 24, 2016, NTEU filed a national institutional grievance against HHS for its implementation of a telework policy in the Office of Civil Rights (OCR) in violation of multiple provisions of Article 26 of the parties’ Consolidated Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA). In the grievance, NTEU alleged that the new OCR telework policy imposed an arbitrary limit on the number of days an employee could telework and counted AWS days against telework days. Additionally, the policy required employees to use a telework agreement form that had not been negotiated by the parties.

On May 4, 2016, the parties executed a settlement agreement that requires the agency to immediately include the following language in the OCR telework policy: “For employees who are covered by the Consolidated Collective Bargaining Agreement between HHS and NTEU that Agreement will prevail.” Additionally, the settlement agreement requires the agency to use the negotiated telework agreement form in appendix 3.2 of the CBA and to comply with Article 26 when reviewing and/or modifying existing telework agreements. The settlement also requires that supervisors review telework agreements/requests on a case-by-case basis, rather than imposing a blanket limit on the number of telework days an employee may work.

I welcome and encourage your questions and comments on this subject.