Title: Telecommunting Policy
Effective Date: May 6, 2016
Revision Date: First Version
Responsible Office: Human Resources
This policy applies to the College of William & Mary in Virginia, including the Virginia Institute of Marine Science (the university). It applies to all full-time and part-time eligible employees of the university and to faculty to the extent provided in Section IV(C)(1) below.
Guidance on application of this policy to employees who are telecommuting as of the effective date of the policy is provided in Section VII(B).
The purpose of this policy is to allow employees to work at alternate work locations for all or part of their workweek as required by Section 2.2-2817.1 of the Virginia Code. Telecommuting can improve productivity and job performance as well as promote administrative efficiencies (e.g. reducing office and parking space), reduce traffic congestion and transportation costs, support continuity of operations plans, and sustain the recruitment and retention of a highly qualified workforce by enhancing work/life balance.
Alternate work locations: approved locations, other than the employee's central workplace, where official university business is performed. The most common alternate work location is the home of an employee, subject to the approval described in this Policy.
Central workplace: an employer's place of work where employees normally are located. Most commonly this is the Williamsburg campus.
Telecommuting: a work arrangement where the employee enters into a formal agreement with the university to perform his/her usual job duties in an alternate work location at least one day per week.
Telecommuting is a voluntary work alternative that is appropriate for some employees and some jobs but not all employees and all positions. No university employee is entitled to or guaranteed the opportunity to telecommute. Certain categories of positions are ineligible for telecommuting. For positions eligible for telecommuting (see Section A below), whether a particular employee may telecommute is a decision made on a case-by-basis taking into consideration an evaluation of the likelihood of the employee succeeding in a telecommuting arrangement and an evaluation of the supervisor’s ability to manage remote workers. Telecommuting arrangements most commonly are for partial telecommuting, for example telecommuting one day per week.
Telecommuting may also be considered on a case by case basis as a reasonable accommodation as provided by the Employee Reasonable Accommodation Policy and Procedure for qualified employees with disabilities.
Employees who are approved for telecommuting will be required to sign a telecommuting agreement with the university consistent with this Policy.
All telecommuting employees perform essentially the same work that they would in the central workplace in accordance with their same performance expectations and other agreed-upon terms. Telecommuting agreements may be established for a long-term or short-term period.
An employee’s classification, compensation, and benefits will not change if the employee is approved for telecommuting.
The university may establish telecommuting as a condition of employment, based on the university’s business needs. In such cases, this requirement should be included when the position is advertised and in correspondence offering employment.
A. Eligible Positions and Employees
Supervisors, in consultation with the Office of Human Resources, will analyze the nature of a position and how the work is performed and determine which positions are appropriate to designate or approve for telecommuting. Several factors should be considered in determining the feasibility of telecommuting, including the university’s ability to supervise the employee adequately and whether any duties require use of certain equipment or tools that cannot be replicated at home. Other critical considerations include whether
- there is a need for face-to-face interaction and coordination of work with other employees;
- in-person interaction with outside colleagues, clients, or customers is necessary;
- the position in question requires the employee to have immediate access to documents or other information located only in the workplace;
- the alternate work location is in the Commonwealth of Virginia;
- the telecommuting arrangement will impact service quality or university operations, or increase workload for other employees;
- the position can be structured to be performed independently of others with minimal need for support and little face-to-face interaction; and
- performance can be measured by quantitative or qualitative results-oriented standards, not time spent doing the job.
Typically, a position being designated as telecommuting-eligible indicates that partial rather than full-time telecommuting is feasible. The Office of Human Resources, in consultation with the departments, will also identify broad categories of positions that are not eligible for telecommuting, including but not limited to direct service and place-specific positions such as police officers, grounds workers, parking support staff, facilities trades workers, including plumbers, electricians, and HVAC technicians, housekeeping (custodial) workers, student health staff, residence life staff, coaches, athletic support and operations positions, receptionist positions, front desk attendants, library circulation and support staff, reference and research librarians, IT direct support positions, vessel operations staff at VIMS, and environmental, health and safety staff. This list of positions is not exclusive, and the Office of Human Resources reserves the right to identify other positions that are not eligible for telecommuting.
If an employee in an eligible position requests approval for telecommuting, the supervisor, in consultation with the Office of Human Resources, will determine whether the employee is eligible. Generally, the following conditions must be met to approve an employee for telecommuting:
- The employee has been in the position for at least twelve months;
- The employee has no active formal disciplinary actions on file for the current or immediately preceding review period;
- The employee has a demonstrated ability to work productively on his/her own and is self-motivated and flexible; and
- The employee received at least a satisfactory evaluation in the previous evaluation cycle.
Supervisors must ensure that telecommuting decisions are made for appropriate, non-discriminatory reasons.
B. General Expectations and Conditions
- Compliance with Policies. Employees must agree to comply with university rules, policies, practices and instructions and understand that violation of such may result in the termination of the telecommuting arrangement and/or disciplinary action, up to and including dismissal. Employees who telecommute will be subject to the same policies as other employees, including policies relating to information security and data protection; see item 7 below.
- Hours of Work. The total number of hours that telecommuting employees are expected to work will not change, regardless of work location. The university also expects the same level of productivity from telecommuting employees that is expected from employees at the central workplace. Telecommuting employees who are not exempt from the overtime requirements of the Fair Labor Standards Act will be required to record all hours worked in a manner designated by the university. Hours worked in excess of those specified in the telecommuting agreement will require the advance approval of the supervisor.
Telecommuting is not intended to serve as a substitute for child or adult care. If children or adults in need of primary care are in the alternate work location during employees’ work hours, another person must be present to provide the care.
Supervisors may require employees to report to a central workplace as needed for work-related meetings or other events or may meet with employee in the alternate work location as needed to discuss work progress or other work related issues.
- Use of Leave. Employees cannot use telecommuting 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.
However, the university may determine whether or not it is appropriate to offer telecommuting as an opportunity for partial or full return to work based on the university’s return-to-work policies following an injury or illness and the criteria normally applied to decisions regarding the approval of telecommuting.
- Liability. The university assumes no responsibility for injuries occurring in the employee's alternate work location outside the agreed upon work hours or for injuries that occur during working hours but do not arise out of and in the course of employment. The university also assumes no liability for damages to employee’s real or personal property resulting from participation in the telecommuting program.
Workers' compensation coverage is limited to designated work areas in employees' homes or alternate work locations. Employees agree to practice the same safety habits they would use in the university and to maintain safe conditions in their alternate work locations. Employees must follow normal procedures for reporting illness or injury.
- Equipment and Materials. Normally, the university will provide equipment and materials needed by employees to effectively perform their duties; however, the university will not duplicate resources between the central work place and the alternate work location.
Telecommuting employees may use university-owned equipment only for legitimate university purposes. Telecommuting employees are responsible for protecting university-owned equipment from theft, damage and unauthorized use. The university will maintain, service and repair university-owned equipment used in the normal course of employment. The university will stipulate who is responsible for transporting and installing equipment, and for returning it to the central workplace for repairs or service. The telecommuting agreement may also permit employees to use their own equipment, provided the use of such equipment has been approved by the Chief Information Officer or designee.
When employees are authorized to use their own equipment, the university is not responsible for the cost, repair or service of the employee’s personal equipment, unless otherwise expressly agreed to in advance in the telecommuting agreement.
- Costs of 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 as telecommuting alternate work locations.
The university may use appropriated funds for telecommuting costs if there is a business need and funding permits for: installation and basic telephone service in employee’s alternate work location; cell phones or personal digital assistants (PDAs) for business use; reimbursing employees for business-related long distance calls made from their personal telephones if no cell phones or PDAs are provided; or internet access and related services.
- University Information. Employees must safeguard university information used or accessed while telecommuting, in accordance with W&M’s Data Classification and Protection Policy, Acceptable Use Policy and other applicable information technology policies.
The university must grant permission according to university procedures for employees to work on restricted-access information or material, as defined by the university, at alternate work locations. Telecommuting employees must agree to follow university-approved security procedures in order to ensure confidentiality and security of data.
- Training for Managers and Supervisors. The university encourages the successful and appropriate use of telecommuting within the university by providing training to supervisors and managers in effectively managing telecommuting employees. The university has provided guidance on Managing Employee Performance Expectations.
C. Telecommuting Agreement
Telecommuting must be documented as approved through a telecommuting agreement. The telecommuting agreement establishes the specific conditions that apply to employees working in alternate locations. The telecommuting agreement must be approved by the unit head, the employee’s supervisor, and the Office of Human Resources. The agreement form is accessible online at http://www.wm.edu/offices/hr/forms-alpha/Telecommuting-Work-Agreement-and-Safety-CheckList-02-10-17.pdf.
A telecommuting agreement typically will be for one year, with a renewable term, but an agreement may be made for a shorter term. Renewal is not guaranteed; the telecommuting arrangement, employee performance and other circumstances will be considered by the supervisor in determining whether to renew the agreement.
- Exceptions to the Telecommuting Agreement Requirement. It is an accepted practice for teaching and research faculty to carry out their work with varied schedules on campus and at alternate locations. Normally, a formal telecommuting agreement will not be required for faculty unless the normal work assignment is consistently at an alternate location (i.e. not the standard assigned office).
On occasion, a department may also determine that employees may need to work at alternate worksites for a short period of time to accommodate unusual circumstances, such as a brief office closing for renovations or relocation. In such cases, the formal telecommuting agreement is not required, but should be documented for department files by memorandum or email, specifying work expectations and duration.
- Modification or Termination of the Telecommuting Agreement. The supervisor, in consultation with Human Resources, may modify or terminate the telecommuting agreement early (before the end of the specified term) for performance concerns, changing operational needs, or any other non-discriminatory reason. The employee may also terminate the telecommuting agreement at any time, unless it was a condition of employment. Any termination typically will be made with at least two weeks’ advance notice.
VI. Enforcement; Complaints, Grievances, or Appeals
An employee who disagrees with a denial of a request to telecommute or any other action relating to this policy is encouraged to discuss the concern with his or her supervisor. If the discussion with the supervisor does not resolve the issue, an employee may request an informal review of a telecommute decision by the Office of Human Resources. Telecommute decisions also may be grievable under existing grievance/complaint processes.
VII. Authority and Amendment; Implementation
A. Authority and Amendment. This policy is approved by the President, in accordance with Section 2.2-2817.1 of the Code of Virginia. The President has delegated to the Chief Human Resources Officer the authority to make minor or technical revisions or amendments to this policy.
- Determination of Position Eligibility. Supervisors should begin identifying positions as eligible or ineligible for telecommuting upon publication of this policy, with reference to the list of non-eligible positions provided by Human Resources and in accordance with Section IV(A) of this Policy.
- Pre-existing Telecommuting Arrangements. For any employee telecommuting as of or prior to the effective date of this Policy, the supervisor shall consult with Human Resources to determine the appropriate approach considering the specifics of the arrangement. For an employee with an existing, documented telecommuting agreement with a one-year term, typically the arrangement will be reviewed under this Policy shortly prior to the expiration of the term so that an updated agreement may be signed, if appropriate.
VIII. Related Policies, Procedures and Documents
Telecommuting Work Agreement & Safety Checklist
Virginia Department of Human Resource Management Policy on Telework, Policy 1.61 (State-level policy establishing framework for telework, to be defined in more detail in institution-specific policies)
Virginia Department of Human Resource Management Policy on Standards of Conduct, Policy 1.60 (applicable to classified and operational employees; sets conduct expectations and procedure for progressive discipline)
Virginia Department of Human Resource Management Policy on Hours of Work, Policy 1.25
Performance Planning & Evaluation Policy for Operational Employees
Virginia Department of Human Resource Management Policy on Performance Planning & Evaluation, Policy 1.40 (for classified employees)
Performance Planning and Evaluation Policy for Professionals and Professional Faculty (for guidance on managing performance of professional telecommuting employees)
Employee Reasonable Accommodation Policy and Procedure (for qualified employees with a disability to request telecommuting as an accommodation)
Managing Employee Performance Expectations Guidance
 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.