Telework

Introduction

The following guidelines are presented to assist in developing employee telework arrangements that are equitable, clearly understood, and to the mutual benefit of the unit/department and employee. Employees are expected to follow these principles in proposing telework arrangements; supervisors/unit/department heads are expected to follow these principles in approving such arrangements.

Definition

Telework is an arrangement in which an employee regularly performs work at a remote worksite (such as home, library or business center) for a specified portion of the workweek.

Request and Approval

The employee initiates a request to teleworke by submitting a proposal to his/her supervisor and/or unit/department head.

Supervisors and/or unit/department heads have the authority to approve flexible work arrangements (FWA).

FWA shall be initiated on a trial basis, and may be discontinued at any time at the request of either the employee or supervisor/department head. The unit/department reserves the right to suspend immediately the arrangement in case of unanticipated circumstances regarding employee performance or operational needs.

If the employee and supervisor/department head agree to a telework arrangement, they must complete a the Flexible Work Arrangement Form. Agreements shall be time-specific with a date for review and reconsideration.  Modifications and/or renewals shall be appropriately documented. The original shall be maintained in the employee’s personnel file, with copies for the employee and supervisor/department head.

Considerations

The first step in considering telework is to watch a video in the Learning Management System (LMS) outlining the set-up, considerations, challenges and strategies of telecommunting.  Simply copy and paste the course name, "Telecommuting Basics: Maximizing Productivity as a Remote Employee" in the Search Box and complete the 60 minute course.

Operational needs, staffing patterns, space considerations, and health and safety issues may preclude granting a request for telework.

The employee must be willing and able to forego telework and work at the primary worksite as requested by the supervisor/department head for operational needs.

In the event that more employees request telework arrangements than a unit/department can reasonably manage, the supervisor/department head shall respond to requests that are consistent with these guidelines in ways that are equitable to all employees and in the best interest of the University. Among the measures that might be adopted are rotating turns between employees, blacking out certain days, limiting the number of work hours allowed to be performed through telecommuting.

Nature of Work

  • The work should involve clearly defined tasks and well understood outcomes. The focus in telework arrangements must be on measurable results. The supervisor/department head shall communicate in advance what assignments are appropriate to be performed at the telework site. The employee shall check in with the supervisor/department head by phone or e-mail at the beginning and ending of each telework work day and shall notify the supervisor/department head when leaving the remote worksite during regular working hours.
  • Jobs that entail working alone or working with equipment which can be kept at the alternate worksite are often suitable for telework. Examples: writer, editor, analyst, word processor, programmer [provided onsite backup is available].
  • Jobs that require physical presence or constant interaction with clients and co-workers to perform effectively are normally not suitable for telework. Examples may include: receptionist, mail processor, administrative assistant, and instructor.
  • The employee shall be available to travel when his or her work requires, including to the primary worksite when necessary, regardless of the telework schedule.
  • Telework by the employee should not negatively affect the workload or productivity of coworkers either by shifting burdens or creating delays and additional steps in the work flow. The supervisor/department head should ensure that other employees in the unit/department understand how and why each FWA functions.

Eligibility of Employee

  • Telework is not appropriate for all positions, or in all settings, or for all employees.
  • Telework during the probationary period is not appropriate.

Responsibilities

The employee and supervisor/department head shall complete all pages of the Flexible Work Arrangement Form. Changes in work schedule and/or remote worksite shall not be made without prior discussion and a revision to the agreement. In the case of represented employees, the supervisor/department head shall obtain review and approval of the proposed agreement from an Employee/Labor Relations Specialist to assure compliance with UC/Union Collective Bargaining Agreements and /or Fair Labor Standards Act.

The employee shall work the hours agreed upon and obtain approval from the supervisor/department head in advance of working any overtime.

The supervisor/department head shall maintain open communication, ensure that the employee’s hours of work do not fall below the normal workweek hours, and discuss with the employee any concerns as they arise.

The supervisor/department head shall consult as needed with Risk Management Services regarding questions of property and liability. 

Property

The employee must ensure that University equipment and records in her/his possession are used for University business, maintained in safe and secure conditions, and available to the unit/department when requested. 

The employee is expected to provide an adequate remote worksite with internet access. Refer to Environmental Health & Safety for information regarding ergonomics. 

With 24-hour minimum notice, the supervisor/department head may visit the employee’s remote worksite to determine its adequacy, and to inspect or retrieve University-owned equipment and supplies.

University equipment in the employee’s remote worksite is subject to the same inventory control and disposal procedures as that in the primary worksite. University property used at the employee’s remote worksite should be inventoried and signed out pursuant to PPM Chapter 350 Supplies and Equipment.

If the property is stolen or damaged while offsite, the primary insurance coverage will be that of the employee, with the University’s being in excess thereof. The supervisor/department head should advise the employee that working from home may affect their homeowner’s insurance coverage. The employee should review their policy and discuss any concerns with their carrier.

The employee is responsible for bringing equipment to the primary worksite for inspection, maintenance and repair. The unit/department will repair and replace University equipment unless it is lost, damaged, or stolen through the employee’s clear negligence or abuse.

A University e-mail account shall be used only for University business conducted during telecommuting hours. Sensitive data must be afforded the same degree of security and confidentiality as when working at the primary worksite. 

Liability

Third Party

There is no public liability for an employee working from their home, provided they are not using the premises to engage the public.

Mitigation Measure: The employee should not receive visitors on work-related matters at the remote worksite while telecommuting.

Auto

The employee’s personal auto liability coverage is primary and must comply with UC Policy G-28 on regulations governing travel. 

Mitigation Measure: The supervisor/department head should advise the employee that using his/her vehicle for University business may affect their auto insurance coverage. The employee should review their policy and discuss any concerns with their carrier.

Workers’ Compensation

Work-related injuries incurred at the remote worksite, during agreed upon working hours, are covered by Workers’ Compensation and should be reported promptly to the supervisor/department head. 

Mitigation Measure: The supervisor/department head should advise the employee that such reports of injuries will be handled in the same manner as reports of injuries at the primary worksite.

Protection of the University’s Intellectual Property

The University may risk a loss of intellectual property and/or risk infringing on the privacy rights of others if workers disclose information they should not as a result of the informal setting.

Mitigation measure: The supervisor/department head should ensure that the unit/department's policies regarding proprietary and personal information cover remote worksites and should advise the employee about the risks of inadvertent disclosure of unit/department or personal information, the value of that information, and the consequences of disclosure. 

Discrimination 

The University may be liable for sex discrimination if a unit/department acts on sex stereotypes about who would be most qualified to telecommute.  Also, unit/departments should be careful not to decide telework arrangements based upon an employee's disability.

Mitigation measure: Supervisors/unit/department heads should be educated on the importance of not making assumptions about employees who request telework. Telework requests should apply consistent criteria for approval.

Electronic privacy concerns

An employee's expectation of privacy in the workplace -- e.g. email, phone calls -- may increase when working remotely.  This is not a huge concern given the expansive privacy rights and incidental use afforded by UC policy.

Mitigation measure: Unit/departments should put into writing what the employees' expectation of privacy should be.