Human Resources

Telework policy and process

University policy permits employees to telework when approved by the employee’s supervisor or other designated official. With a thoughtful 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, allowing the University to retain valued employees who might otherwise change jobs. It can also reduce commute trips and address space restrictions.

Supervisors have discretion in deciding whether an employee is a candidate for telework. Some employees may not be eligible due to specific job requirements, impact on a team, or performance concerns. 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 the disability accommodation process. Discuss concerns about accommodation-related telework requests with your HR consultant or the Disability Services Office.

What is telework?

Telework refers to an arrangement where an employee works from home or from another location away from the usual 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 (although it can be 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 or added expense on the supervisor, team or department.

Types of telework arrangements

The University recognizes two general types of telework arrangements:

Occasional telework: Occasional telework requests are approved on a case-by-case basis, are infrequent, and are not regularly scheduled. Approval must be documented, which can be done by email.

Occasional telework may be used when an employee:

  • Has a personal need at home, such as meeting a service technician that cannot be done outside business hours
  • Has a temporary workplace disruption, such as office remodeling or inclement weather
  • Has other circumstances approved by the supervisor

Note: Employees who are unable to work at their regular location due to their own or family member’s illness or injury should generally use sick time off for this purpose. Telework should not be used to provide active care for a child or other dependent.

Regular telework: Regular telework arrangements are for ongoing telework and must be 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 with regular review.

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Telework evaluation process

Supervisors should work with the employee to evaluate their request to telework, considering business needs of the unit, communication, and impact of remote work on other team members. Considerations may also include the employee’s readiness for telework.

Determine employee readiness for telework

Some employees may be better prepared than others to manage the unique requirements of teleworking. When evaluating a telework request, supervisors should consider whether the employee has a record of satisfactory performance in the workplace and has demonstrated the ability to:

  • Prioritize work to meet deadlines
  • Accomplish job duties with minimal supervision
  • Communicate effectively with clients, stakeholders, and team members
  • Manage time effectively
Determine supervisor and team readiness for telework

Before approving a telework request, consider any changes needed to ensure your team continues to meet its objectives. Ensure that the employee and work product will be effectively managed as their on-site colleagues.

* Note that requirements for in-person attendance can override telework agreements. Supervisors should discuss such instances with the employee (e.g. hands-on training).

Respond to the telework request

Once it is determined that the request can be approved, it is time to document the telework agreement.

If question exists about the potential effectiveness of the arrangement, a supervisor may consider allowing the employee to telework on a pilot basis. A supervisor should establish a review period after which a decision can be made about ongoing telework.

There may be circumstances in which a request for telework cannot be approved. In order to demonstrate consistency and equity within the unit, it is important the denial is explained to the employee and based upon policy, impact on unit operations, and/or the employee’s work record.

Document the telework arrangement

The goal of a telework agreement is to ensure that both the employee and supervisor have a 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, location and hours
  • Required methods of communication specific to telework (e.g. Skype, phone)
  • The duration of the telework arrangement
  • Responsibility for telework equipment
  • Circumstances requiring on-site attendance
  • Relevant policy attestations

Note: Consider reviewing the effectiveness of telework arrangements during the performance evaluation process.

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Both supervisors and employees must understand and comply with the following policies:

University property and data security

Reasonable steps must be taken 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. The security and confidentiality of University records must also be maintained. Sensitive data should not be placed on a personal computer or device but instead should be accessed via secure remote access technology.

Equipment insurance

University equipment and resources located at an alternate worksite are not automatically insured. Review information about equipment insurance. If departments do not ensure 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.

Workers’ compensation

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 Claim Services for information regarding coverage.

For information on general liability insurance issues relating to telework, contact Risk Services.

Tax implications

Employees are responsible for addressing and resolving any questions about their ability to deduct expenses related to telework.

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