HRM-013: Telecommuting from Alternative Work Locations

Date: 03/03/2009 Status: Final
Last Revised: 07/31/2014
Policy Type: University
Oversight Executive: Vice President and Chief Human Resources Officer
Applies To: Academic Division and the College at Wise.
Reason for Policy:

Promotes telecommuting as a means of achieving administrative efficiencies (e.g., reducing office and parking space), reducing traffic congestion and transportation costs, improving productivity and job performance, supporting business continuity plans, and sustaining the hiring and retention of a highly qualified workforce by enhancing work/life balance. Maximizes the appropriate use of telecommuting arrangements without diminishing employee performance or service delivery.

Definition of Terms in Statement:
  • Alternative Work Location:

    Approved work sites other than the University’s central workplace where official University business is performed. Such locations may include employees’ homes and other state agency work sites.

  • Central Workplace:

    The University’s place of work where employees normally are located.

  • Hoteling:

    A work arrangement where the employee works from an alternate work location at a state agency site that is closer to the residence of the employee than their University work site. The alternate work site may be any state agency work site that provides broadband internet access. 

  • Telecommuting:

    A work arrangement in which supervisors direct or permit employees to perform their usual job duties away from their central workplace.

  • Telecommuting Plan:

    The required, written agreement between the supervisor and employee that details the terms and conditions of an employee’s work at an alternative work location.

  • Work Schedule:

    The employee’s hours of work in the central workplace or in alternative work locations.

Policy Statement:

The University normally requires that work be performed on University premises. In order to promote general work efficiencies, the University may permit or direct designated salaried and hourly employees to work at alternative work locations, including hoteling, for all or part of the workweek. Telecommuting arrangements can range from a part-time basis, one-day-per week, up to full-time, five-days per week.

  1. Identify Positions Appropriate for Telecommuting:
    To assess whether a particular telecommuting arrangement can be an effective tool, managers should consider the project, position, the employee, and management needs of the unit (refer to the Telecommuting Needs Assessment).

  2. Develop a Telecommuting Plan:
    The supervisor and employee must agree to the terms of telecommuting arrangements before the employee may work at an alternative work location. (See the Sample Telecommuting Plan.) The Telecommuting Plan is to be authorized by the department head, in consultation with the employee’s supervisor, recorded in the University Human Resource system, and kept on file in the department. If the alternate work location belongs to another state agency, the Telecommuting Plan must include written authorization from the alternate work sites’ administrator.

  3. Conditions of Employment:

    1. Telecommuting assignments do not change the conditions of employment or required compliance with policies.
    2. To the extent possible, the supervisor and the employee should agree mutually to telecommuting arrangements. However, the University may establish telecommuting as a condition of employment, based on business needs. In such cases, this requirement should be included when the position is advertised and in correspondence offering employment.
  4. Compensation and Benefits:
    An employee’s compensation and benefits will not change as a result of telecommuting arrangements.

  5. Hours of Work:

    1. The total number of hours that employees are expected to work will not change, regardless of work location. Employees agree to apply themselves to their work during work hours.
    2. Supervisors must ensure that procedures are in place to document the work hours of employees who telecommute, in particular ensuring compliance with the Fair Labor Standards Act.
    3. Telecommuting is not intended to be used as a tool for child or adult care. If children or adults in need of primary care are in the alternative work location during employees’ work hours, some other individual must be present to provide the care.
    4. Supervisors may require the employee to report to a central workplace as needed for work-related meetings or other events or may meet with the employee in the alternative work location as needed to discuss work progress or other work related issues.
  6. Use of Leave:
    Telecommuting is not intended to be used in place of sick leave, Family and Medical Leave, leave used under the Virginia Sickness and Disability Program, Workers’ Compensation leave, or other types of leave.

Note: The University may determine whether or not it is appropriate to offer telecommuting arrangements as an opportunity for partial or full return to work based on University policy and the criteria normally applied to decisions regarding the approval of telecommuting.

  1. Workers’ Compensation Liability:
    The University may be liable for job-related injuries or illnesses that occur during employees’ established work hours in their alternative work locations. Workers’ Compensation coverage is limited to designated work areas in the employee’s home or alternative work locations during specified working hours as defined by the Virginia Workers’ Compensations Act (Title 65.2 of the Code of Virginia).

  2. Equipment and Supplies:
    The University may provide equipment and supplies needed by employees to effectively perform their duties. In cases where full-time telecommuting is a condition of employment, the department should provide the necessary equipment and supplies. However, where agreements specify, employees may be authorized to use their own equipment.

    1. University-owned or issued Equipment
      • University-owned or issued equipment may be used only for authorized University purposes by authorized employees.
      • Employees are responsible for protecting University-owned or issued equipment from theft, damage and unauthorized use.
    2. Maintenance
      • University-owned or issued equipment used in the normal course of employment will be maintained, serviced and repaired by the University.
      • The department should stipulate who is responsible for transporting and installing equipment, and for returning it to the central workplace for repairs or service.
      • When employees are authorized to use their own equipment, the University will not assume responsibility for the cost of equipment, repair, or service.

Note: While the use of non-University-owned or issued equipment is permissible, telecommuters must be in compliance with University’s policy IRM-015, Electronic Storage of Highly Sensitive Data.

  1. Hoteling - Use of Other State Agency Work Sites:
    The alternate state work site must be closer to the employee’s residence than his/her University work site. The space at the alternate work site should be shared or common space (e.g. conference room) and not be dedicated solely for telecommuting. In cases where a full-time employee is assigned permanently to an alternate state work site, his/her previous University office space should be re-purposed for other use. The Telecommuting Plan must include written authorization from the alternate work sites’ administrator.

  2. Costs Associated with Telecommuting:
    The University is not obligated to assume responsibility for operating costs, home maintenance, or other costs incurred by employees in the use of their homes or other alternative work locations for telecommuting. A telecommuting arrangement does not and shall not be deemed to convert an employee’s home or other alternative work space into University space.

    The department may use University funds for telecommuting costs as described below if there is a business need and funding permits:

    1. Installation and basic telephone service in employee’s alternative work location.
    2. Cell phones or personal digital assistants (PDAs) for business use. If cell phones or PDAs are not provided, agencies may reimburse employees for business-related long distance calls made from their personal telephones.
    3. Internet access and related services by using technologies such as cable modem, cellular service (including Broadband Air Cards), Digital Subscriber Line (DSL), Fiber-Optic cable (FIOS), Integrated Services Digital Network (ISDN), Satellite data service, Wireless Fidelity (Wi-Fi), Worldwide Interoperability for Microwave Access (WiMAX), dial-up modem access, etc.

Note: Reimbursement procedures must comply with those established by the University and must be consistently applied to all similarly situated employees.

  1. Emergencies and Other Unexpected Contingencies:
    In the event of emergency including natural catastrophe, fire or other significant disruption to facilities or the physical operations of departments, and in order to respond effectively to such disruptions and maintain critical functions, operations and services, supervisors are authorized to establish telecommuting arrangements with qualified employees for limited duration without strict regard for the guidelines and procedures contained in this policy. Such arrangements are to be maintained only until normal operations can be restored at the central work-site.

  2. Security of University Information:
    Employees must safeguard University information used or accessed while telecommuting. Permission must be granted according to University’s policy IRM-015, Electronic Storage of Highly Sensitive Data for employees to work on highly sensitive data at alternative work locations. Employees must agree to follow all applicable security procedures in order to ensure confidentiality and security of data and all University documents in their possession.

The employee assumes responsibility for the security of information, documents, and records in his or her possession or used while telecommuting and may not remove highly sensitive data from the central workplace without the written consent of the supervisor.

  1. Termination of the Telecommuting Plan:
    The University may terminate the telecommuting plan at its discretion. Supervisors should give employees advance notice if a decision is made to terminate the plan; however, advance notice is not required. If the alternate work location belongs to another state agency, the site’s administrator may terminate the arrangement at any time.

  2. Roles and Responsibilities:
    The telecommuting employee is responsible for adhering to the terms of this policy and the telecommuting plan. Failure to comply with the telecommuting plan may result in the termination of the arrangement and/or disciplinary action.

The supervisor/department head is responsible for:

  • Identifying those positions that are appropriate for telecommuting.
  • Developing the telecommuting plan, including clearly defining expectations, and implementing the plan.
  • Overseeing the telecommuting employee, including scheduling of regular supervisor-employee meetings, holding periodic performance reviews, evaluating productivity, and initiating any other management-related actions.
  • Ensuring compliance with all federal and state laws and University policies and procedures.
  • Obtaining necessary approvals and notifying University Human Resources of the telecommuting arrangement.
  • Terminating the telecommuting arrangement if the arrangement does not meet desired objectives.

University Human Resources is responsible for providing advice and guidance to all parties involved in determining eligible positions; designing and implementing the telecommuting procedures and forms; maintaining all relevant records; and providing training to supervisors and managers in effectively managing telecommuters.

Procedures:
  1. Telecommuting Needs Assessment
  2. Instructions for Drafting the Telecommuting Plan (employer and employee)
  3. Sample Telecommuting Plan. The conditions listed below may be included in the telecommuting plan:
  • the duration of the agreement;
  • physical address of the work location;
  • the site administrator’s written authorization if using another state agency’s work site;
  • the work schedule and how it can be changed;
  • how leave is to be requested and approved by the supervisor;
  • status of the employee during emergencies or weather-related closings affecting the central or alternative workplace;
  • how routine communication between the employee, supervisor, co-employees, and customers will be handled;
  • employee’s performance plan/expectations;
  • the equipment and/or supplies that will be used, and who is responsible for providing and maintaining them;
  • University-provided equipment/supplies are to be used for business purposes only, and to notify the University immediately when equipment malfunctions;
  • any applicable data security procedures; and
  • In addition, if any of the following requirements are to be modified in any manner, those modifications will be explicitly addressed in the telecommuting plan:
    1. comply with all federal and state laws and applicable University policies and procedures;
    2. notify the supervisor immediately of any situation which interferes with his or her ability to perform the job;
    3. permit the supervisor access to the alternative work location during normal work hours;
    4. maintain safe work conditions and practice appropriate safety habits;
    5. confirm that the work location is free from hazards;
    6. notify the supervisor immediately of any injury incurring while working;
    7. absolve the University from liability for damages to real or personal property resulting from participation in telecommuting; and
    8. assume responsibility for the security of information, documents, and records in his or her possession or used while telecommuting and not remove highly sensitive data from the central workplace without the written consent of the supervisor.
  1. Sample Jobs@UVA Forms with Detailed Routing and Workflow Information
  2. Workplace Safety Checklist
Related Information:

HRM-012, Alternative Work Schedules
IRM-015, Electronic Storage of Highly Sensitive Data
Guidance on Electronic Storage of Highly Sensitive Data
Telework Categories Matrix

Policy Background:

Per the Code of Virginia, 2.2-2817.1, the President of the University is required to establish a telecommuting policy under which eligible employees may telecommute to the maximum extent possible without diminished employee performance or service delivery.

Major Category: Human Resource Management
Approved by, Date: Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer, 03/03/2009
Revision History: Updated 7/31/14.