Telework policy and process
Table of Contents
University policy permits employees to telework when the employee’s supervisor (or other designated official) evaluates the telework request and approves it.
When evaluating the request, the supervisor must determine that the employee can effectively perform the job duties of the position while teleworking. The supervisor must also determine that the teleworking arrangement conforms with applicable regulations, policies, and collective bargaining agreements.
Requests to telework as a disability accommodation are handled through a separate process.
What is telework?
Telework refers to an arrangement where an employee works from home or from another location away from the normal workplace. Depending on the details of the arrangement, telework constitutes either a portion of the employee’s work time or all of it. Typically, the telework arrangement is initiated by an employee’s request (though sometimes it’s a condition of employment).
Supervisors must determine the feasibility of a proposed telework arrangement before approving it. The arrangement is intended to benefit the employee without putting undue burden on the supervisor or the rest of team.
To help ensure that employees continue working effectively under a telework arrangement, supervisors should develop a telework plan.
With a good plan in place, telework can benefit not only the employee but also the supervisor, the team, and the University in general. Telework often improves job satisfaction by increasing job flexibility. It also allows the University to retain valued employees who might otherwise change jobs.
Types of telework arrangements
The University recognizes two general types of telework arrangements:
- Regular telework
- Occasional telework
Regular telework arrangement are supported by a written agreement that specifies the requirements and details of the arrangement. The arrangement can last for a defined period or can continue indefinitely. The arrangement must comply with any school, college, or administrative unit requirements which should be specified in the agreement. These arrangements are either requested by the employee or required due to the nature of the position.
Occasional telework arrangements are approved on a case-by-case basis and are not regularly scheduled. Approval must be documented, which can be done by email.
Occasional telework arrangements can be used when an employee:
- Has a personal need at home, such as meeting a service technician
- Has a temporary workplace disruption, such as office remodeling or inclement weather
- Needs to devote concentrated effort to a project
Telework evaluation process
As a supervisor, you will make the final decision about an employee’s telework request after evaluating its feasibility.
You should work with the employee to evaluate the proposal. Additionally, consider how the proposal will affect both you and the rest of your unit. Identify any potential issues and ways to address those issues.
Determine employee readiness for telework
Employee work styles and job duties vary. Some employees may be better prepared than others to manage the unique requirements of teleworking. When evaluating a telework request, consider how well the employee has demonstrated the kind of skills and work habits that working from home will require. These include the ability to:
- Prioritize work to meet deadlines
- Accomplish job duties with minimal supervision
- Communicate effectively with clients, customers, and team members
- Attend meetings and other events on time
Determine supervisor and team readiness for telework
When an employee begins teleworking, the way you and your team work with that employee may also change. Before you approve a telework request, consider any management adjustments needed to ensure your team continues to meet its objectives.
You must ensure that the teleworking employee will continue to get work done effectively. To maintain this accountability, determine:
- How you will stay informed about the employee’s work
- How your team will stay informed about the employee’s work
- Effective ways to facilitate communication while teleworking
- When in-person attendance is required
Consider the practical details about the arrangement such as technology access, equipment needs, time and leave accounting, and any safety concerns about the telework environment. Additionally, determine if there are any labor contract requirements that apply to the proposed arrangement.
Respond to the telework request
If you approve the telework request, your next step is to document the telework agreement.
If you’re unsure that the proposed telework arrangement can be successful, consider allowing the employee to telework on a pilot basis. Designate an initial review period after which you will make a final decision on the arrangement.
If you cannot approve the telework request, explain your decision based on both the proposal’s impact on department operations and, if relevant, the employee’s work record in your department. Discuss concerns about accommodation-related telework requests with your Human Resources Consultant or the Disability Services Office.
Document the telework arrangement
Once you determine that the proposed telework arrangement is feasible and you are ready to approve it, create and document the telework agreement.
Your goal when creating the agreement is to ensure that both you and the employee have a clear, shared understanding of the telework arrangement. The content of the agreement should follow the general provisions of the Telework Plan and Agreement (MS Word). At a minimum, the agreement should define:
- A work schedule that specifies telework days and work times during each day
- How to make short-term changes to specified telework days
- The length of the telework arrangement
- How the telework arrangement may be terminated
- When the employee is required to be available, either at home or at the workplace
You may want to consider incorporating the telework agreement parameters into your evaluation process for the employee’s job performance.
Telework-related policies and practices
Both supervisors and employees must understand and comply with the following policies:
University property and data security
You must take reasonable steps to ensure that University property is used in compliance with APS 47.2, Personal use of University Facilities, Computers, and Equipment by University Employees. This includes complying with all software licensing agreements. You must also maintain the security and confidentiality of University records.
University equipment and resources located at an alternate worksite are not automatically insured. Review information about equipment insurance. If departments do not insure the equipment that will support the telework arrangement, the telework agreement should specify whether the department or the employee bears the risk of loss. The telework agreement should require that the employee immediately report any damage to University equipment.
Public records disclosure
The work employees do while teleworking remains subject to University and other applicable regulations including the Washington State Public Records Act.
Overtime eligible employees
For overtime eligible employees, certain activities, such as travel to and from required meetings that occur during scheduled work time are included as hours worked.
Teleworking employees are covered by workers’ compensation for job-related injuries that occur in the course and scope of employment. When the telework site is in the home, workers’ compensation does not cover injuries that are not job related. 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. Contact the Office of Risk Management for information regarding coverage.
Several states mandate participation in state disability insurance programs. Contact the Benefits Office for information on enrollment and disability insurance payroll deductions for employees located out of state or out of the country.
For information on general liability insurance issues relating to telework, contact the Office of Risk Management.
Employees are responsible for addressing and resolving any questions about the employee’s ability to deduct expenses related to telework.