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Policy 1332
Telecommuting

Date of Current Revision: June 2015
Primary Responsible Officer: Director of Human Resources

1. PURPOSE

The purpose of this policy is to comply with the Commonwealth of Virginia Department of Human Resources Management (DHRM), which permits agencies to designate administrative & professional faculty and classified employees to work at alternate work locations for a mutually agreed upon portion of their workweek. This policy also complies with the requirement of DHRM Policy 1.61-Telework that agencies establish a telecommuting policy

2. AUTHORITY

The Board of Visitors has been authorized by the Commonwealth of Virginia to govern James Madison University. See Code of Virginia section 23-164.6; 23-9.2:3. The Board has delegated the authority to manage the university to the president.

STATE OR FEDERAL STATUTE AND/OR REGULATION

Code of Virginia section 2.2-2817.1 requires the Commonwealth of Virginia to permit agencies to designate employees for work arrangements in which supervisors direct or permit employees to perform their usual job duties away from their central workplace at least one day per week and in accordance with work agreements without diminished employee performance or service delivery.

3. DEFINITIONS

Administrative & Professional Faculty (A&P Faculty)
Administrative faculty and professional faculty are normally referred to collectively, as both require advanced learning acquired by prolonged formal instruction and/or specialized training and work experience. However, the university recognizes administrative faculty and professional faculty as distinct position types.

Administrative Faculty positions are generally senior administrators who perform work related to the management of the educational and general activities of the university, for at least fifty percent (50%) of their work. Typically, administrative faculty serve in executive leadership roles such as vice president, provost, dean, assistant or associate vice president or dean, assistant or associate vice provost. Other administrative faculty roles can include (1) those responsible for the administrative direction of separately designated divisions or departments of institutional activity; (2) positions whose primary responsibility is to attract external funds; or (3) positions that are characterized by active, continuing involvement in formulating, interpreting and implementing institutional policy, and exercise substantial independence, authority and discretion in areas such as program planning, design and allocation of resources. The organizational reporting relationship for administrative faculty is normally not lower than three levels below Executive Council positions. For Academic Affairs, this would include: Vice Provost/Dean (level 1), Academic Unit Head/Director (level 2) and Associate Director (level 3).

Professional Faculty require advanced learning and experience acquired by prolonged formal instruction and/or specialized work experience. Typical professional faculty positions are librarians, counselors, coaches, physicians, lawyers, engineers and architects. Other professional positions may support education, research, University Life and other such activities. Professional faculty positions must require the incumbent to regularly exercise professional discretion and judgment and to produce work that is intellectual and varied and is not standardized.

Alternate Work Location
Approved locations other than the employee’s central workplace where official business is performed. Such locations may include, but are not limited to the home of an employee and satellite offices.

Central Workplace
An employer's place of work where employees normally are located.

Classified Position
Salaried position assigned to an Occupational Family and Career Group based on duties and responsibilities, and to a Role Code based on the compensable factors of Complexity, Results, and Accountability. See DHRM Policy 2.20-Types of Employment

Telecommuting
A work arrangement in which supervisors direct or permit employees to perform their usual job duties away from their central workplace at least one day per week, or at least 4 days per month, or at least 32 hours per month, in accordance with a Work Agreement for Telecommuting.

Tele-eligible
A work arrangement in which supervisors direct or permit employees to perform their usual job duties away from their central workplace at least one day per week, or at least 4 days per month, or at least 32 hours per month, in accordance with a Work Agreement for Telecommuting.

Work Agreement for Telecommuting
A written agreement between the employer and the employee that details the terms and conditions of the employee’s work away from his/her central workplace. A Work Agreement is required for telecommuting work.

4. APPLICABILITY

A written agreement between the employer and the employee that details the terms and conditions of the employee’s work away from his/her central workplace. A Work Agreement is required for telecommuting work.

5. POLICY

5.1 Normally, work is performed on university premises.

5.2 There may be occasions when alternate work arrangements meet the needs of the university. Telecommuting may be an appropriate alternative work arrangement when determined by the supervisor and approved (in writing) by the appropriate vice president.

5.3 The university aligns its procurement plans, practices and procedures with the campus environmental stewardship goals and campus Environmental Stewardship Action Plan (EASP).

5.4 Upon the recommendation of the supervisor, the vice president makes the sole decision to begin, suspend, or discontinue a telecommuting arrangement.

5.5 Positions that may be best suited for telecommuting are positions where:

  • Activities can be effectively performed outside the office;
  • Contact with other employees and constituents is predictable and can be scheduled;
  • Adequate security of data can be ensured for the work handled at an alternate work location;
  • The technology needed to perform the job off-site is currently available;
  • Cyclical work does not present a problem;
  • Constituent contact can be adjusted to allow for telephone communications, or such contact can be conducted when the employee is in the office; and,
  • The use of photocopiers, fax machines, scanners, or other specialized equipment can be scheduled for days the employee is in the office.

5.6 Requests and approvals for telecommuting arrangements will be made on a case-by-case basis. The approval of a position to telecommute does not mean that the individual in the position would be authorized to work at alternate work locations. The position must be re-evaluated at least annually to determine if telecommuting continues to best meet the department's needs. The Tele-eligible Considerations Check List will aid in determining whether or not a position should be considered for telecommuting.

6. PROCEDURES

6.1 Working Conditions under Telecommuting Arrangements

There are a variety of issues that must be discussed between the department and employee before allowing telecommuting. The department must develop a Work Agreement for Telecommuting (to be signed by both the employee and supervisor) that incorporates the employees' conditions of employment and addresses the supervisor visits to the alternate work location.  The following is a list of topics that must be considered and included in a Work Agreement for Telecommuting. Supervisors are encouraged to contact Human Resources Consulting Services for guidance when considering a telecommuting arrangement.

6.1.1 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 termination of the telecommuting arrangement and/or disciplinary action, up to and including termination of employment.

6.1.2 Security of Records

Supervisors must discuss with employees what records may or may not be taken from the office and any procedures for removing and returning them. Employees are responsible for the security of all documents, data, and records in their possession and must immediately report suspicions of a breach to their supervisor.

6.1.3 Hours of Work

The amount of time the employee is expected to work per pay period will not change due to participation in a telecommuting arrangement. Hours of work must remain the same unless specified in the Work Agreement for Telecommuting. The procedures for approval of overtime, and the approval and use of leave must also be included.

Employees are responsible for reporting all hours worked each week. Failure to report time and/or failure to obtain approval for overtime, can result in the termination of the telecommuting arrangement or other disciplinary action. Supervisors should periodically remind employees of their record-keeping duties, and must promptly discuss with the employee any discrepancies that arise between the work product and the hours reported.

6.1.4 Authorized Closing

Inclement weather or emergencies protocol should be discussed. In the event of an authorized university closing, the telecommuting employee is not expected to perform work. Employees telecommuting and who choose to work during an authorized closing will not receive compensatory leave. See Policy 1309-University Closings, Class Cancellations and Exam Postponements Due to Inclement Weather or Emergencies.

6.1.5 Role and Compensation

Employees' classification, compensation, and benefits will not change upon their acceptance of a Telecommuting Agreement.

6.1.6 Primary Care

Telecommuting is not designed as a substitute for child or adult care. If children or adults in need of care are present at the alternative location during the employee's working hours, another individual must be present to provide the primary care.

6.1.7 Termination of the Telecommuting Agreement

Management reserves the right to end the telecommuting arrangement at any time. Employees may be required to return to the central workplace immediately upon violating the Standards of Conduct, if deemed as having performance problems, or if management feels it is in the best interest of the university and/or the employee to end the arrangement, either permanently or temporarily.

6.1.8 Expenses of the Home

The university is not responsible for operating costs, such as electric bills, home maintenance, or other costs incurred by employees in the use of their homes as alternate work locations.

6.1.9 Equipment

The supervisor and employee must agree on what equipment will be used for telecommuting, e.g., computer/telephone lines, fax machine, scanner.

  • The employee will either use his or her own computer, or the department will provide one. Employees who have Remote Privileged Access or access to any core systems are required to use a university configured computer.
  • The employee may be reimbursed for telephone expenses.
  • Additional telephone lines may need to be installed in the employee's alternate work location. The department pays the installation fee when additional lines are needed.

Employees must agree to use equipment provided by the department and supplies for business purposes only, and to notify the department head immediately of equipment malfunction in order to initiate repair or replacement. Employees are responsible for properly securing all equipment used in accordance with IT standards. All university equipment located at an employee's premises is fully insured by the university. The department pays for equipment losses up to $10,000. The university’s Property Insurance Plan will cover the value of university equipment losses above the $10,000 deductible. Any damage or theft of the equipment must immediately be reported to the supervisor.

6.1.10 Liability

The university assumes no responsibility for injuries occurring in employees’ alternative work location outside the agreed upon work hours, or for liability damages to employees' real or personal property resulting from participation in the telecommuting arrangement.  JMU employees are covered by the Commonwealth Division of Risk Management Plan for their work related activities.

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 the normal reporting procedures for reporting work-related illness or injury.

6.2 Inspection of the Work Location

Prior to beginning the telecommuting arrangement, an inspection of the alternative work location must be conducted using the Telework Site Safety Inspection Checklist to ensure the location is suitable and safe for performing the duties of the position.  The employee or the supervisor may complete this form. If an employee identifies safety hazards, an alternate work location inspection by the supervisor may be needed.

7. RESPONSIBILITIES
Vice presidents are responsible for the written approval of any telecommuting arrangement in their respective division.

Supervisors are responsible for the accurate execution of this policy.

Human Resources will determine which positions are appropriate for telecommuting and enter the information into the Personnel Management Information System (PMIS) when they establish or change the designation of the position.

8. SANCTIONS

Sanctions will be commensurate with the severity and/or frequency of the offense and may include termination of employment.

9. EXCLUSIONS

The policy does not apply to instructional faculty, professional librarians, wage, or other part-time employees.

10. INTERPRETATION

While the authority to interpret this policy is granted to the President, it is generally delegated to the Director of Human Resources.

Previous version: July 2010
Approved by the President: March 2008