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Policy 1332
Telecommuting

Date of Current Revision: July 2010
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 Policy 1.61, which permits agencies to designate employees to work at alternate work locations for a mutually agreed upon portion of their workweek. This policy also complies with the requirement of Policy 1.61 that agencies establish a telecommuting policy.

2. AUTHORITY

The authority for this policy is the university's Board of Visitors, its President, the Commonwealth of Virginia Department of Human Resources Management Policy 1.61

3. DEFINITIONS

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

Telecommuting:
A work arrangement in which supervisors direct or permit employees to regularly or consistently perform their usual job duties away from their central workplace, in accordance with work agreements.

Telecommuter Work Agreement:
The written agreement between the employer and employee that details the terms and conditions of an employee's work away from his or her central workplace. Work agreements are required for telecommuting.

Tele-eligible:
A position that is deemed eligible by Human Resources for the supervisor/JMU and the employee to enter into a telecommuter work agreement.

4. APPLICABILITY

This policy applies to all eligible university positions and employees.

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 senior vice president or executive director to the president as such.

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

5.4 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 assured for the work handled at an alternate work site.
  • The technology needed to perform the job off-site is currently available.
  • Cyclical work does not present a problem.
  • Constituent contact can be readjusted to allow for telephone communications or such contact can be conducted when the employee is in the office.
  • The use of photocopies, fax machines or other specialized equipment can be scheduled for days the employee is in the office.

5.5 Requests and approvals for telecommuting 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 sites. The position should be re-evaluated at least annually to determine if telecommuting continues best to meet the department's needs. For assistance in determining whether or not a position should be considered for telecommuting, a "Tele-eligible Considerations Check List" is attached.

6. PROCEDURES

6.1 Working Conditions Under Telecommuting

There are a variety of issues that must be discussed between the department and employee before allowing telecommuting. The following is a list of topics that must be considered and included in a telecommuting agreement, a sample of which is attached to this policy. Supervisors are encouraged to contact Human Resources Workforce Management 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.

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 the telecommuting program. Hours of work must remain the same unless specified in the telecommuting agreement. 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, like failure to obtain approval for overtime, can result in the termination of the telecommuting arrangement or other disciplinary action. Supervisors should periodically remind employees about 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 must also be discussed. Employees working at home during a university closing would be expected to continue working unless that was not possible due to power outages or other conditions that prevent them from working. Employees telecommuting during an authorized closing would not receive compensatory leave.

6.1.5 Role and Compensation

Employees' classification, compensation and benefits will not change upon their acceptance of 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 in the home during the employee's at-home 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 work place immediately upon committing a Standards of Conduct offense, 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, i.e., computer/telephone lines, FAX machine, etc.

  • 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 JMU 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

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. 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 the employee's at-home workspace outside the agreed upon work hours or for liability damages to employees' real or personal property resulting from participation in the telecommuting program. General liability insurance protecting the actions of university employees is provided 365 days per year subject to the provisions of the insurance policy in effect at the time.

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

6.2 Inspection of the Work Location

Prior to beginning the telecommuting program, an inspection of the work site should be conducted to ensure the location is suitable for performing the duties of the position and to inspect for safety (See: Sample Safety Checklist for Telecommuting). The employee or the supervisor may complete this form. If an employee identifies safety hazards, an on-site inspection by the supervisor may be needed.

The Sample Work Agreement for Telecommuting should provide guidance on supervisory visits to the alternate work site and notice to the employee in advance.

6.3 The department must develop a telecommuter work agreement that incorporates employees' conditions of employment. A sample agreement is attached to this policy. Human Resources can be contacted for further assistance.

7. RESPONSIBILITIES

Senior vice presidents or the executive director to the president is responsible for the approval of any telecommuting agreement in their respective units/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 when they:

  • Establish a position (PSP 130);
  • Re-establish a position (PSP 131); or
  • Change the designation of the position (PSP 160, Field Change).

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 affiliates.

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: March 2008
Approved by the President: March, 2008

Index Terms
Telecommuting