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Thurmont town board passes
 telecommuting policy

Stephanie Mlot
Frederick News-Post Staff

(5/14) Some town employees' commutes might get a lot shorter.

The mayor and Board of Commissioners discussed and put into effect Thurmont 's new telecommuting policy Monday.

Under the plan, employees will be allowed to perform some or all of their assigned duties at a location other than the town office during assigned work hours, according to the text of the policy. The work site is normally the employee's home.

"How it is set up is that if someone is interested in telecommuting, they must receive their immediate supervisor's approval," Commissioner Ron Terpko said Wednesday.

The employee's work is evaluated and, if most of it can be accomplished from home, a contract will be written and signed, and the employee may be allowed to telecommute.

If the supervisor calls a telecommuting employee, he or she had better be working, Terpko said.

"Basically, as long as I am working from home and I am productive, it's fine and good to go."

The topic was raised and discussed at length on March 23, when Mayor Martin Burns said he hoped to capture a comprehensive policy to allow telecommuting, based on supervisor discretion.

The commissioners agreed the policy would allow an employee to telecommute only a couple of days per week. "It's not a whole 'we'll never see you again,'" Terpko said.

He pointed out that very few people would be eligible for the policy.

"We need to list who absolutely is not," Burns said.

"There are certain people in certain positions that can be gone," Terpko said. "There are certain people that can't be gone."

Eligibility should depend on an employee's daily public interaction, he said.

The final document outlines eligibility criteria, including no pending personnel-related disciplinary action and availability of a work site suitable for telecommuting.

"Public Works cannot do it," Burns said. "Branch heads will not do it."

The Thurmont Police Department administrator will be permitted to telecommute, but officers will not.

Commissioner Glenn Muth wanted the document to refer to the policy as a privilege, not a right.

"It's not an all-or-nothing policy," he said. "There could be employees who work two days a week from home. It doesn't necessarily mean that if you work at home, that you're there every day."

An individual contract will be written up and signed by the town attorney, each employee and the supervisor to ensure an understanding of the specific rules and regulations the employee must adhere to.

Commissioners Bob Lookingbill and Terpko voted against the policy, while the rest of the board voted in favor.

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