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Telework and Alternate Work Location for Staff

Policy
Purpose: 

Permits employees to telework from off-site locations upon approval by a supervisor to increase job flexibility when job duties of the position can be effectively performed remotely, and it is in the best interests of the University.

Applies to: 

Unclassified professional staff and university support staff. 

Campus: 
Edwards
Lawrence
Juniper Gardens
Parsons
Yoder
Topeka
Policy Statement: 

Unit leaders are responsible for determining the most effective means of accomplishing the unit’s mission. Telework or an alternate work location assignment may be requested by an employee, be a condition of employment, or be University designated.  Supervisors must determine the feasibility of the proposed employee arrangement prior to approval. The arrangement is intended to benefit the employee and University without putting undue burden or added expense on the supervisor, team, and department and must conform with all applicable policies, procedures, regulations, and/or collective bargaining agreements. 

Eligibility Requirement

Staff requesting the option of telework or alternate work location assignment must have satisfactorily completed the assigned probationary period or have a current performance evaluation with a rating of meets expectations or higher.  Qualified probationary and permanent employees with disabilities may submit a request to telework as a reasonable accommodation pursuant to the Americans with Disabilities Act by contacting the ADA Resource Center for Equity and Accessibility at accessibility@ku.edu or 785-864-4946. Telework or /alternate work location assignments may also be an employment condition at the time of hire or designated by the University for an employee during emergency business operations.

Telework/Alternate Work Location Considerations for Supervisors

Before authorizing a telework or alternate work location assignment, the following factors must be taken into consideration by the supervisor:

  • Can the job requirements be performed remotely?
  • Are adequate staff available on site to perform needed job duties? Will changes need to occur to ensure the team can continue to meet its objectives?
  • Is there a business need for telework or an alternate work location? Could services be improved if telework or alternate work location was implemented and help retain top talent?
  • What precedent is being established, and will others in like situations be allowed to work remotely at an alternate location? How will this impact the team/morale?
  • Has the employee’s work history demonstrated the ability to prioritize assignments, meet deadlines, accomplish job duties with minimal supervision, communicate effectively with the team and customers, and manage time efficiently?
  • How will you track employee performance of job assignments?
  • How will the change be communicated to your team and implemented? 
  • Will you have the ability to track and monitor hours reported for approval of non-exempt staff to comply with the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA)?
  • Are budgetary resources available for any required compensation of time for travel, commuting to campus, overtime (if applicable), equipment needs, etc.? 

Types of Telework Alternate Work Location Arrangements

1. Occasional: Infrequent, not regularly scheduled requests which must be approved in advance and documented by email on a case-by-case basis. Occasional telework or alternate work location arrangements may be used when the employee:

  • Has a personal need at home, such as a meeting a service technician that cannot be done outside business hours Experiences a temporary workplace disruption, such as office remodeling or inclement weather based upon policy designation or employee safety
  • Is designated as an essential remote worker during periods of emergency as identified by the University
  • Has other circumstances that are approved by the supervisor

2. Regular: Ongoing telework activities not performed at the designated campus location. Arrangements must be supported by the unit hierarchy by completion of the Telework/Alternate Work Location Agreement specifying the details of the arrangement.  Arrangements can last for a defined period of time or can continue indefinitely with an annual review.

3. Telework as a Workplace Accommodation: ADA Resource Center for Equity and Accessibility facilitates all employee requests to telework based upon a medical condition, injury or disability. Employees with medical conditions or disabilities that require accommodation to perform their essential job duties may contact the ADA Resource Center for Equity and Accessibility at accessibility@ku.edu or 785-864-4946.

Requirements for in-person attendance can override telework agreements (e.g., training, planning meetings, research) and should be discussed with the employee and documented by email or the Telework/Alternate Work Location Agreement. 

Responding to Telework/Alternate Work Location Requests

All telework or alternate work location requests must be reviewed by the supervisor and unit hierarchy promptly upon receipt. If approved, documentation of the arrangement is required. If a question exists about the potential effectiveness of the arrangement, the supervisor may consider a telework arrangement on a pilot basis with a defined review period for evaluation. In circumstances where the arrangement cannot be approved, it is important that the supervisor communicates the reason for the decision (i.e., policy, impact on operations, budgetary, employee’s work record, etc.).

Documenting the Telework/Alternate Work Location Arrangement

If the unit authorizes or assigns a temporary telework/alternate work location arrangement, an email outlining the work schedule, time period of the arrangement, communication expectations, use of equipment, and data security is sufficient.  If an ongoing telework/alternate work location (including employees working out of state) arrangement is approved, a signed Alternate Work Location and Equipment Maintenance Agreement must be submitted to Human Resource Management (HRM). A review period with subsequent approvals is required before renewing the Agreement on an annual basis. Approval of telework and/or alternate work location is at the sole discretion of the University (HRM as the designee) and may be revoked at any time. Supervisors or unit hierarchy with concerns about ending arrangements should contact HRM for guidance. All KU employees are required to complete all University mandatory training by issued deadlines, regardless of the telework or alternate work location arrangement.

Non-exempt (overtime eligible) hourly employees are required to report hours worked accurately. They are eligible for compensatory time and travel and must conform with FLSA traveling guidelines for reportable hours. Primary work locations and directory building information (may be a state if working outside a campus building) are maintained in the HR/Pay System.

Exceptions / Special Circumstances

In the event of a public health or other business operation emergency, staff identified as telework-eligible by the University do not need to submit a Telework/Alternate Work Location Agreement Form for temporary assignments. Supervisors may approve such temporary assignments without HRM approval for periods up to 30 days.   

Likewise, in the event of a public health emergency, individuals with disabilities or with health conditions that may make them more susceptible to the disease-causing the public health emergency do not need to submit a reasonable accommodation request to the ADA Resource Center for Equity and Accessibility. Supervisors may approve such temporary assignments without HRM approval for periods up to 30 days. 

During periods of emergency operations, employees may be deemed essential and assigned to telework. Such staff will be informed by the University when telework assignments will begin, and end and employees are expected to return to work.

Managing Work at Alternate Work Locations

The following guidelines represent best practices to manage off-site work:

  • Review employee performance and attendance. Results should demonstrate an ability to work independently with a high degree of accountability and accuracy.
  • Establish clear written expectations as to the work product quantity and quality standards and deadlines that will demonstrate appropriate productivity.
  • Follow the established University rules for submission and approval of actual hours worked for non-exempt staff and for absences requested and approved for all eligible staff. Ensure understanding that approval of an alternate work location does not change the number of assigned work hours and that for non-exempt staff working additional hours requires the prior approval of the supervisor. 
  • Identify what level of paid support, if any, for equipment and supplies will be provided by the department (e.g.: office furniture, paper, mailing/shipping funds, office supplies, computer, printer, phone line, internet, or remote access service and devices). Identify mechanisms to return University property and equipment if arrangement changes or ends. Normally, the supplies are provided by the University, and no home expenses for furniture, connections, or renovations are reimbursable.
  • The supervisor, department head, unit head, and/or designee may visit the alternate work location with reasonable notice to ensure that provisions of the agreement are being met, including the maintenance of equipment and the work site in a safe, secure, and orderly manner.
  • Require regular mandatory meetings on-site or via Skype/Zoom or other current technology to review work performed if work location is nearby; otherwise, utilize other forms of regular remote communication. Establish any arrangements or expense payments for associated travel if applicable for on-site meetings.
  • Establish core work hours during which staff must be available for communication. 
  • Hold regular conversations by phone or electronic communication during the work week to track work performed.
  • Ensure understanding that regardless of use of a private or University provided computer, the employee remains bound by the All University Intellectual Property Policy.
  • Teleworking and/or alternate work location may be terminated if there are performance concerns, position changes that impact the success of the telework arrangement, funding or budgetary constraints, issues with the worksite location, and/or issues with the ability to effectively manage the work performed.  

University Property and Data Security

Reasonable steps must be taken to ensure that University property is assigned and used according to University Information Technology policies. Compliance with all software licensing, virus protection, data security measures (i.e., Duo authentication) is required. Use of personal computers for University business activities is only allowed with permission from the Information Technology Security Office. Security and confidentiality of University records must be maintained and stored in University identified drives accessed via secure remote access technology provided by KU Information Technology.

Identify equipment insurance needs for assigned equipment with your KU IT Technical Services Liaison. The employee must immediately report any damage to equipment, either physical or through malicious malware, phishing, etc. by emailing abuse@ku.edu for immediate support.   

Workers’ Compensation

Because unknown workers' compensation liability may be incurred if accidents occur off-site, the employee will immediately report to the supervisor job-related accidents which occur at the alternate work location during the agreed upon work hours while performing work-related duties. 

The accidents will be reported on the specified University form available at the link on this HRM webpage. The State Self Insurance Fund, the University’s insurance carrier, will determine the compensability of such claims

Exclusions or Special Circumstances: 

Conditions of employment with the University of Kansas are not affected by working in an alternate work location. The staff member is expected to follow all professional standards of performance and conduct, State of Kansas statutes and regulations, Board of Regents, and University of Kansas policies while at all work locations.

A telework or alternate work location agreement is not intended to provide dependent care, convalescing, or caring for an ill family member. The presence of children, pets, guests, or other dependents in the alternate work location cannot disrupt the performance of work activities or negatively affect the productivity of the employee.

Working in a telework or alternate location environment may be authorized for shorter time periods in the best interests of the employee and the University.

The employee will be subject to the applicable tax jurisdiction, zoning, and tax liability associated with the alternate work location as determined by KU Payroll Office. Employees whose alternate work location is out-of-state or country will be subject to applicable laws related to employment conditions. It is the employee’s responsibility to notify the KU Payroll Office about any tax location changes. 

A telework or alternate work location agreement complicates a supervisor’s ability to accurately track and approve hours worked for non-exempt staff. Hourly staff may be eligible for shift differential if work hours are scheduled before 6:00 a.m. or after 6:00 p.m. In addition, many non-exempt staff job responsibilities require the physical presence of the staff member in order to fulfill work obligations.

Contact: 

Human Resource Management
103 Carruth-O’Leary Hall
1246 W. Campus Road
Lawrence, KS  66045
785-864-4946
hrdept@ku.edu

Approved by: 
Vice Provost for Operations
Approved on: 
Friday, May 11, 2018
Effective on: 
Friday, May 11, 2018
Review Cycle: 
Annual (As Needed)
Definitions: 

Occasional Telework: Infrequent, not regularly scheduled requests which must be requested in advance and approval documented by email on a case-by-case basis.

Regular Telework: Ongoing telework activities not performed at the designated campus location. 

Telework as a Workplace Accommodation: ADA Resource Center for Equity and Accessibility facilitates all employee requests to telework based upon a medical condition, injury or disability.  Employees with medical conditions or disabilities that require accommodation to perform their essential job duties may contact the ADA Resource Center for Equity and Accessibility.

Keywords: 
alternate work site, telecommuting, remote work site, working at home
Change History: 

07/07/2020: Corrected spelling and grammar errors.
05/14/2020: Updated link to Telework-Alternate Work Location Agreement Form.
03/13/2020: Revised through an expedited process in order to provide guidance given concerns related to COVID-19.
11/26/2019: Updated policy link.
06/20/2018: Updated link for Alternate Work Location and Equipment Maintenance Agreement form
05/11/2018: An institutional policy is provided for more consistent management of staff working regularly from off-site locations. 

Personnel: Administrators Categories: 
Workplace Rules & Guidelines
Personnel: Staff Categories: 
Workplace Rules & Guidelines

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