Telework arrangements are normally a voluntary agreement between the employee and his/her department.
The department head determines feasibility of each individual telework arrangement. A decision should be based on evaluation of the work to be accomplished, benefits to the department, interactions required between the teleworker and other staff or customers, and demonstrated skills of the employee.
Telework may be required or mutually beneficial due to operational needs, space constraints and/or the nature of the assignment. If applicable, telework requirements should be designated as a condition of employment during recruitment for the position.
Telework does not include unscheduled work at home due to temporary conditions such as dependent care, inclement weather, recovering from an illness, caring for an ill family member, or instances where an employee is assigned to work at home pending an investigation or in the days/weeks prior to termination.
The telework agreement is for a prescribed time period, revocable at the option of the employer and subject to approval by the appointing authority. Either the employer or the employee may rescind agreement to a voluntary telework arrangement consistent with the individual telework agreement.
2. Is telework an asset to the department? To the University?
The department head should first determine whether telework arrangements benefit the institution. See “Telework Feasibility Worksheet.”
3. Who is eligible to telework?
The department head should determine whether the telework option will be offered on a department-wide or individual basis.
Consider characteristics of the assignment, documented successful performance of the individual employee, ability to objectively assess telework performance and productivity.
The ability to voluntarily telework is a privilege and not a right. Typically, telework relationships will not be established during an employee's probationary or trial service period. Suspected abuse of the telework arrangement should be promptly reported, investigated and resolved.
4. How will telework affect employee benefits?
Telework arrangements do not change salaries, benefits, job responsibilities, leave policies, or other basic terms of employment.
5. How long is a telework assignment?
Telework arrangements should be for a prescribed period of time. Establish dates on which the supervisor and the employee will review the effectiveness of the telework agreement to date and make adjustments as necessary.
6. Can assignments be ended earlier than agreed?
The employer may rescind the agreement at any time. The employee may request that the agreement be rescinded consistent with the notice requirements of university policy and the individual agreement.
7. How is a teleworker's performance assessed?
The supervisor and the employee must confirm the tasks or scope of work to be completed at the alternate work site, the time frames for completion and how work will be reviewed, evaluated and measured.
8. How does one communicate with teleworkers?
A teleworker may be reached in a variety of ways (e.g., email, telephone, cell phone, fax). The type of assignment may help determine how communication will be handled.
9. Do teleworkers have fixed schedules?
Another factor in maintaining contact with the teleworker is his or her schedule. Establish whether there will be prescheduled times when the teleworker will be available at the alternate work site so that colleagues and clients can interact with the employee.
The supervisor or designee may make work site visits or assessments during mutually agreed upon times. The teleworking employee will be expected to remain flexible to respond to business requirements, which may include working at the office or attending meetings during a normal telework day.
10. Do teleworkers handle confidential information?
Many telework assignments will involve the employee's use of confidential information. For security purposes, existing departmental policies protecting information confidentiality may need amending to address additional security measures specifically addressing telework. The sensitivity of the information should dictate the level of security precautions taken.
11. How do teleworkers get set up with computers, phones and supplies?
Determine what supplies are needed at the alternate work site. This may include personal computer, printer or fax capability.
Include discussion of phone lines and technical support. Office supplies (paper, ink, etc.) are provided by the department; equipment (such as computer and printer) may be provided by the employee unless otherwise requested by the teleworker.
Review the University's policy regarding use of university equipment and other resources. The employee must comply with licensing agreement terms for use of all software owned by the University. Such equipment is not to be used for personal gain (for example, a license may allow the teleworker to use a second copy (software) at home, but state law requires that it only be used for tasks directly related to work, even during non-work hours). Maintain an inventory of equipment and supplies used at the teleworker's work site. Refer back to the “Telework Feasibility Worksheet” for an estimate of costs to install/upgrade/maintain necessary equipment.
University equipment and other resources located at the alternate work site are not covered for insurance purposes. Departments must complete a “Property Removal Form” prior to placing university equipment in an alternate work site. If the telework site is the employee’s home, the employee should contact his/her insurance provider to discuss the ramifications of this risk. Any loss or damage of university equipment must be reported at once to the teleworker's supervisor.
For assistance and instruction in setting up the telework employee with regards to equipment, networking, etc., supervisors should contact the ITS Help Desk at x2001 for assistance and instruction.
12. Safety & Ergonomics
Employees and supervisors will work together to establish and maintain a clean and safe dedicated workspace. The employee is responsible for maintaining the telework site in a manner free from health or safety hazards. The supervisor or designee may make work site visits or assessments during mutually agreed upon times. The employee is responsible for notifying the supervisor or department head immediately about any safety or ergonomic concerns at the telework site. Health or safety hazards at the telework site may result in immediate suspension of the telework arrangement.
The “Office Checklist” may be used to help the employee and supervisor assess the attributes and needs of the proposed workspace.
13. Workers' Compensation
The employee will be covered by workers' compensation for job-related injuries that occur in the course and scope of employment while teleworking. In cases where the home and the designated workplace are the same, workers' compensation will not apply to non-job related injures that might occur in the home. Employees who work out of state (or out of the country) in one location for more than 30 days need workers' compensation coverage specific to that location.
Because the teleworker's home (or alternate) work space is an extension of the university work space and worker's compensation coverage is available, the university retains the right to make on-site visitations of the home work space.
Contact the Environmental Health and Safety Office for further information.
14. Can the teleworker deduct expenses?
The employee is responsible for resolving questions about the ability to deduct expenses related to telework.
For more information on "home office" deductions, see the applicable section of the Internal Revenue Code or contact your accountant.
15. What do federal laws say about teleworking?
There are no direct federal laws that regulate telecommuting. Contact your HR rep about specific questions relating to employee rights and/or employer obligations.
16. How does one compose a Telework Agreement?
Telework Agreements contain the details of a teleworker's assignment. It must be in writing, signed by the employee and the authorizing supervisor and must be completed and in place prior to beginning a telework arrangement. Any additional approval requirements are to be determined by the appointing authority.