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Remote Work Policy

 

Title: Remote Work Policy
Effective Date: May 6, 2016
Revision Date: September 1, 2021
Responsible Office: Human Resources

I.  Scope

This policy applies to William & Mary as a whole university, including the Virginia Institute of Marine Science, ((hereinafter 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 work remotely or telework as of the effective date of the policy is provided in Section VI(B). 

II.  Purpose

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.  In many circumstances remote work 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.

III.  Definitions

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 will be on our Williamsburg campus; Newport News business school campus; Gloucester or Eastern Shore campuses of VIMS; Highlands; or our Washington Center. 

Remote Work Agreement: 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, or some other duration or period of time.

IV.  Policy

Remote work 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 telework. Certain categories of positions are ineligible for teleworking.  For positions eligible for remote work (see Section IV.A below), whether a particular employee may be approved for remote work is a  decision made on a case-by-case basis taking into consideration an evaluation of the likelihood of the employee succeeding in a remote work arrangement and an evaluation of the supervisor’s ability to manage remote workers.  Remote work  arrangements most commonly are for partial remote work, for example one day per week. 

Remote work 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 remote work will be required to sign a remote work agreement with the university consistent with this Policy.

Employees approved for a remote work agreement perform essentially the same work that they would in the central workplace in accordance with their same performance expectations and other agreed-upon terms.  Remote work 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 remote work. 

The university may establish remote work 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 teleworking.  (See Appendix A) Several factors should be considered in determining the feasibility of remote work, 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 the following:

  • there is a need for face-to-face interaction and coordination of work with other employees;
  • in-person interaction with outside colleagues, clients, students, or customers is necessary;
  • the position in question requires the employee to have immediate , or easy access to documents or other information located only in the workplace;
  • the alternate work location is in the Commonwealth of Virginia (if not, an out-of-state form needs to be completed and approved first);
  • the remote work 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 designated as remote work-eligible indicates that partial rather than full-time remote work is feasible.   

If an employee in an eligible position requests approval for teleworking, the unit head, in consultation with the Office of Human Resources, determine whether the employee is eligible.  Generally, the following conditions must be met to approve an employee for teleworking:

  • The employee has been in the position for at least 12 months;
  • The employee has no active disciplinary actions;
  • The employee has a demonstrated ability to work productively on his/her own and is self-motivated and flexible; and
  • The employee’s performance meets standards. 

Supervisors must ensure that teleworking decisions are made for appropriate, non-discriminatory reasons. 

B. Ineligible Categories of Positions

The Office of Human Resources, in consultation with the departments, has identified  the categories of positions that are not eligible for remote work and the justification.  (See Appendix B.)

C. General Expectations and Conditions

  1. 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 revocation of the remote work arrangement and/or disciplinary action, up to and including termination.  Employees who telework will be subject to the same policies as other employees, including policies relating to information security and data protection; see item 7 below.
  2. Hours of Work.  The total number of hours that employees with remote work agreements are expected to work will not change, regardless of work location. The university also expects the same level of productivity from  employees with remote work agreements that is expected from employees at the central workplace. Teleworking 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 remote work agreement require the advance approval of the supervisor.
    Teleworking 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.  An exception to this requirement may be granted in special or limited circumstances.  Employees should check with Human Resources on available options.  Please note, the Employee is still required to work their total hours for each work week (typically 40 hours for full-time employees) in these circumstances, but the hours may be adjusted around child and/or elder care duties with advance permission from the Employee’s supervisor.
  3. Use of Leave.  Employees cannot use remote work 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 it is appropriate to offer remote work 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 teleworking.
  4. 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 teleworking 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 central workplace and to maintain safe conditions in their alternate work locations. Employees must follow normal procedures for reporting illness or injury.
  5. 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 workplace and the alternate work location.  Employees approved for remote work agreements may use university-owned equipment only for legitimate university purposes. 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 remote work 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 remote work agreement.
  6. Costs of Remote Work.  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 alternate work locations. The university may use appropriated funds for remote work costs if there is a significant business need, remote work is required for the position, 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.
  7. University Information. Employees must safeguard university information used or accessed while teleworking, in accordance with the university’s Data Classification 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. Teleworking employees must agree to follow university-approved security procedures in order to ensure confidentiality and security of data.
  8. Training for Managers and Supervisors.  The university encourages the successful and appropriate use of remote work within the university by providing training to supervisors and managers in effectively managing teleworking employees. The university has provided guidance on Managing Employee Performance Expectations.

D. Remote Work Agreement

Teleworking must be documented as approved through a remote work agreement.  The remote work agreement establishes the specific conditions that apply to employees working in alternate work locations. The remote work agreement must be approved by the employee’s supervisor and the head of the employee’s department.  The approved agreement is kept in the employee’s personnel file in the Office of Human Resource Management. The agreement form is accessible online through Banner Self-Service. 

A remote work 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 remote work  arrangement, employee performance and other circumstances will be considered by the supervisor in determining whether to renew the agreement.  Each department tracks the agreements and renews them as required.

  1. Exceptions to the Remote Work 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 remote work 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 an alternate work location 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 remote work agreement is not required, but should be documented for department files by memorandum or email, specifying work expectations and duration.
  2. Emergencies and Other Unexpected Contingencies.  In the event of emergency, including but not limited to pandemics, fire or other significant disruption to facilities or the physical operations of departments, , supervisors are authorized to establish remote work arrangements with qualified employees for limited duration with permission of the department head. Such arrangements are intended to allow for effective response to such disruptions and to maintain critical functions, operations and services.  These remote work arrangements are to be maintained only until normal operations can be restored at the central workplace.  The employee should still complete and submit a remote work agreement in this situation.
  3. Modification or Termination of the Remote Work Agreement.  The supervisor, in consultation with the Office of Human Resources, may modify or terminate the remote work agreement early (before the end of the specified term) for performance concerns, changing operational needs, or any other non-discriminatory or retaliatory reason. The employee may also terminate the  remote work 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 for permission to enter a remote work agreement 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 appeal the matter to the supervisor’s supervisor  Employee may formally grieve decisions on remote work agreements 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.[1]  The President has delegated to the Chief Human Resources Officer the authority to make minor or technical revisions or amendments to this policy.  

  1. This policy was amended effective September 1, 2021 to add Emergencies and Other Unexpected Contingencies as an exception to Section IV.D.2 and to add Appendix to include the broad category of positions that are ineligible for remote work agreements.

B.  Implementation.

  1. Determination of Position Eligibility.  Supervisors should begin identifying positions as eligible or ineligible for remote work upon publication of this policy, with reference to the list of non-eligible positions provided in Appendix A and in accordance with Section IV(A) of this Policy. 
  2. Pre-existing Teleworking Arrangements.  For any employee working remotely 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  remote work agreement with a one-year term, the arrangement will be reviewed under this Policy prior to the expiration of the term so that an updated agreement may be signed.

VIII.  Related Policies, Procedures and Documents

Telework Agreement & Safety Checklist and Managing Employee Performance Expectations Guidance (Banner Self-Serve)
Employee Reasonable Accommodation Policy and Procedure
Performance Planning & Evaluation Policy for Operational Employees
Performance Planning and Evaluation Policy for Professionals
Policy 1.25 Hours of Work (Virginia Department of Human Resource Management)
Policy 1.40 Performance Planning and Evaluation (Virginia Department of Human Resource Management, classified employees, full and part-time)
Policy 1.60 Standards of Conduct (Virginia Department of Human Resource Management)
Policy 1.61 Teleworking (Virginia Department of Human Resource Management

[1] Per the Code of Virginia, 2.2-2817.1, the President of the university is required to establish a remote work policy under which eligible employees may remote work to the maximum extent possible without diminished employee performance or service delivery.