Emergency or Situational Telecommuting Policy

I. Policy

Emergency or situational telecommuting is a temporary arrangement whereby, during a crisis or an emergency situation at the College, an employee is permitted or is asked to work from home or elsewhere off-site to provide for continuity of the College’s operations.

Criteria used to determine telecommuting may vary based on the nature of certain crises and the ultimate need to maintain business continuity. However, because telecommuting by aligned and/or overtime eligible employees may be impacted by the provisions of law and applicable collective bargaining agreements, supervisors should first consult with the Human Resources Office.

II. Determining Eligibility To Telecommute

Positions that lend themselves to telecommuting are generally those that require independent work that can be performed autonomously. Situational telecommuting is applicable for both exempt and non-exempt employees with job responsibilities that do not require them to work on-campus. However, a nonexempt employee may telecommute with the understanding that the employee continues to be responsible for accurately recording daily work hours, start and stop times for meal periods and otherwise comply with College policies regarding employment and work hours such as rest breaks and overtime.

Offices and department heads, in consultation with the appropriate Dean or Vice President, should determine which employees are eligible for situational telecommuting arrangements. Considerations for determining which positions are eligible for telecommuting include:

  • Whether the services an employee provides to the College can reasonably be provided when working off-site;
  • Whether requests for immediate on-campus assistance can be addressed on days on which the employee is telecommuting;
  • Whether an employee can carry out key duties without extensive face-to-face contact with supervisors, other employees, clients, or the public on campus;
  • Whether an employee can perform key duties without access to equipment, materials, and files that can only be accessed on campus;
  • The extent to which an employee can be effective and productive using technology, equipment, or other job aids to carry out their responsibilities from an off-campus location;
  • The extent to which an employee working off-site will not affect the ability of other College departments or offices/units within a department to provide services, instruction and/or to conduct business;
  • Whether an employee has emergency management responsibilities that require an on-campus presence; and
  • The extent to which security issues require the key duties to be conducted on campus.

Generally speaking, an employee will not be eligible to work offsite if they are required to be on-campus to carry out their job responsibilities.

Some department operations may choose to have an on-campus presence to provide operational support. Employees in these offices who are permitted to telecommute may be called back to the office to help provide short term or rotational support at the manager’s discretion and consistent with applicable current health and safety guidelines.

Using these guidelines, the appropriate Dean or Vice President will designate each position in their organization as “Off-Campus” or “On-Campus” employees. “Off-Campus” employees are those in positions eligible for telecommuting.  “On-Campus” employees are required to perform their duties on-site.

III. General Conditions Of Employment While Telecommuting

  1. Compliance with Policies – Employees must agree to comply with College 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 polices relating to information security and data protection.
  2. Hours of Work – Unless otherwise agreed, an employee’s regular hours and days of work will not change. If an employee needs to modify the agreed-upon schedule, the employee must notify the supervisor in advance of the change. The employee is expected to perform duties and responsibilities during work hours as he/she would do if the employee was on campus. Authorized campus closures or early release programs and their terms apply to eligible employees who telecommute.
  3. Work Environment and Dependent Care –It is the responsibility of the employee to ensure that a proper work environment is maintained. If a child or adult needs care during work time, another responsible individual is expected to be present. If dependent care circumstances change, and become unmanageable, the employee is required to notify their supervisor.
  4. Attendance at Meetings – The employee is expected to participate in all required meetings (telephone or web-based conferences), and may be required to report for work-related events or to meet with the supervisor in an alternate location, if needed.
  5. Performance Expectations – Performance expectations and evaluations are neither changed nor waived because of a telecommuting arrangement. An employee’s job performance will be evaluated in accordance with College guidelines and procedures.
  6. Salary and Benefits – An employee’s salary and benefits will not be affected by telecommuting.
  7. Tax Consequences – The employee is responsible for any tax and insurance consequences associated with the telecommuting agreement and for observing any municipal zoning ordinances regulating the performance of work at home for telecommuting purposes.
  8. Use of Personal Vehicle – While telecommuting, an employee may not use his/her personal vehicle for College business unless specifically authorized by a supervisor.
  9. Use of Leave – The employee is responsible for reporting absences and submitting requests for leave in accordance with department procedures and College Telecommuting is not to be used in place of using vacation, personal holiday or sick leave to cover an absence. However, in consultation with Human Resources, a supervisor may choose to offer telecommuting arrangements as an opportunity to accommodate an employee’s partial or full return to work after a medical or disability leave based on College policy and the criteria normally applied to decisions regarding the approval of telecommuting and requests for reasonable accommodation due to pregnancy and/or disability.
    1. During situations when “off-campus”-eligible employees are directed to work remotely; the College will not charge any employee sick leave; employees will still accrue such time during periods of working remotely.
    2. During any temporary full or partial operational shutdown, “on campus” or “off-campus” employees whose job responsibilities are curtailed will be paid based on the regular work schedule and will not be charged sick leave or vacation time during this period. Employees who received approval to use vacation time prior to a curtailment of operations will be charged vacation time as normal.
    3. In the rare occurrence when an “off-campus”-eligible employee is telecommuting of their own volition without a campus shutdown, regular leave benefits will apply in those circumstances. Any employee who has a question regarding the use of sick or vacation time should contact Human Resources.

IV. Equipment And Supplies Associated With Telecommuting

  1. The College will reimburse the employee for business expenses necessary for performing work assignments at the telecommuting location in accordance with College Policy and provided advance authorization has been obtained. Computer devices must be approved by the College. W&J will not be responsible for operating costs, home maintenance, or any other incidental costs including cost of utilities, associated with the use of the employee’s residence as a telecommuting location.

V. Security Of Information

  1. Employees working in an alternate work location and their supervisors must adhere to all applicable security procedures in order to ensure confidentiality and security of data.
  2. An employee’s work computer shall be in compliance with College guidelines for uses of hardware and software including virus protection software, licensing provisions, system security and passwords.
  3. The employee will protect all confidential College documents from unauthorized access.
  4. All products, documents and records that are used, developed, or revised while telecommuting remain the property of W&J College.
  5. The College may provide hardware and software support; however, internet connection is the responsibility of the employee.

VI.  Telecommuting Safety

  1. The employee is solely responsible for ensuring the safety of the alternative work location. The employee confirms that the alternate work location is, to the best of the employee’s knowledge, free of recognized hazards that could cause physical harm. Employees are expected to practice the same safety habits they would use while at the College and to maintain safe conditions in their alternate work location.
  2. The College is legally obligated to provide its employees with a workplace that is free from hazards that might cause serious harm or injury and, therefore, the College reserves the right to periodically inspect the employee’s alternate work space. Any such inspection will be preceded by advance notice and an appointment will be scheduled.
  3. Employees who telecommute are covered by the College’s Workers’ Compensation insurance if injured while performing official duties on campus or at the alternate work location. As such, employees are required to immediately report any injuries that occur while working.
  4. The employee shall be liable for any injuries that occur to third parties at or around the employee’s alternative work location.

VII. Timeframe

  1. The College can call back employees at any time once the emergency or crisis subsides or guidance from the appropriate public authorities changes to allow for a return to regular operations.
  2. While telecommuting, employees are expected to remain within normal commuting distance and not otherwise be traveling unless expressly permitted by supervisor and/or divisional Vice President.