4.16.6 Telecommuting

A.  Purpose

It is the policy of The University of Texas at Tyler to provide for the administration of a telecommuting program which permits telecommuting work arrangements when it is in the best interests of the University.

B.  Persons Affected

This policy applies to University staff, both classified and administrative and professional positions. It does not apply to faculty positions or positions that require student status as a condition of employment.  

C.  Definitions

  1. Principal location - The University of Texas at Tyler.
  2. Regularly assigned place of employment - the location on the University campus where an employee usually and customarily reports for work or where work is performed.
  3. Telecommuting - an authorized work arrangement that involves an employee routinely working one or more days per week at a location that is not the regularly assigned place of employment.
  4. Texas Government Code, Section; 658.010; Chapter 659.

D.  Policy and Procedures

  1. Telecommuting and the Employment Relationship.  Telecommuting includes alternative work arrangements available to employees whose job duties are appropriate for such assignment. The decision to authorize these options is within management’s discretion based on the nature of the work being performed and other business considerations. The arrangement is voluntary and participation does not alter an employee’s work relationship with the University nor does it relieve an employee from the obligation to observe all applicable University rules, policies and procedures. All existing terms and conditions of employment, including but not limited to the position description, salary, benefits, vacation, sick leave and overtime remain the same as if the employee worked only at his or her regularly assigned place of employment.
  2. Agreement and Approvals Required.  A Telecommuting Agreement must be completed and signed by the employee and the employee's supervisor and must have the approval of the employee's Dean or Director prior to the employee initiating a telecommuting arrangement. The agreement must contain a description of the work to be performed by the participating employee, as well as a typical work project or assignment, or a job description detailing the general nature of the work to be performed.
  3. Criteria for telecommuting.  Alternative work arrangements are appropriate only when both the abilities of the employee and the nature of the work to be performed meet the minimum criteria set out below. Supervisors may apply more rigorous criteria when determining whether an employee and position are appropriate for alternative work arrangements.
    1. Supervisor Considerations. Telecommuting is appropriate for employees who:
      1. Have the abilities to successfully organize, manage time, work independently and productively with minimal supervision, and have at least a satisfactory work performance history;
      2. Have a thorough knowledge and understanding of their job functions and the equipment required for the alternative work arrangement;
      3. Have access to a remote work site that is safe and free from interruptions; and,
      4. Are able to provide the security necessary to adequately protect any University information and equipment used at the remote work site.

        Supervisors have the discretion to approve or deny an employee’s request for telecommuting based on job or business related criteria. 

    2. Position Requirements.  Positions that may be considered for telecommuting arrangements are those that:
      1. Have job functions that can be performed at a remote site without diminishing the quality of the work or disrupting the productivity of a unit;
      2. Do not require an employee's presence at the regularly assigned place of employment on a daily or routine basis;
      3. Allow for an employee to be as effectively supervised as he or she would be if the job functions were performed at the assigned place of employment;
      4. Have an emphasis on the electronic production and/or exchange of information by means of computers, Wi-Fi, modems, fax machines or phones;
      5. Involve measurable or quantifiable work product; and
      6. Have minimal or flexible need for specialized materials or equipment available only at the regularly assigned work site.
    3. Positions that are not suited to telecommuting are those that:
      1. Require regular face-to-face contact with a supervisor, other employees, members of the University community or the public; or
      2. Require routine access to information or materials that are available only at the regularly assigned place of employment.
  4. Work Sites
    1. Remote Work Site Requirements
      1. Employees participating in telecommuting shall have and maintain a healthy and safe environment at the remote work site.
      2. Non-work related events and activities will not disrupt or interfere with work at the remote work site.
      3. A supervisor may visit the proposed remote work site to evaluate the appropriateness of the site prior to approving the agreement and may require that a photo of the workspace be attached to the agreement.
      4. Once the agreement is approved, the University retains the right to make prearranged on-site inspections of the remote work site during scheduled work hours.
      5. Supervisors must ensure that all sensitive and confidential information is protected and secured when accessing information from the remote location.
      6. Employees must ensure that all protective software and other firewall technology is installed and used on all equipment at the remote location.
    2. Regularly Assigned Place of Employment

      Employees participating in telecommuting shall report to the regularly assigned place of employment as agreed upon with the supervisor and as indicated in the agreement. Additionally, when operational needs require, an employee must report to the regularly assigned place of employment upon the supervisor’s request. Employees will be given as much advance notice as feasible under the circumstances presented. 

  5. Equipment and Supplies
    1. An employee will describe and present to the supervisor a request for office equipment, hardware, software, communication needs and office supplies needed to participate in telecommuting from a remote work site. The supervisor will review the request for approval for purchase or reimbursement. The University will not reimburse the employee for any costs not pre-approved by the supervisor. Purchases or reimbursement shall be provided in accordance with applicable University policies.
    2. The University will not reimburse employees for out-of-pocket expenses for materials and supplies that are reasonably available at the regularly assigned place of employment.
    3. Only University approved software shall be used for connecting with the university's network from the remote work site. Employees who are participating in telecommuting shall run university prescribed anti-virus software at all times and follow all University information security rules, copyright laws and manufacturers' licensing agreements.
    4. University equipment located at the remote work site is subject to all policies and restrictions related to use of state owned property. Participating employees are responsible for any equipment and software that is used at the remote work site and accept financial responsibility for any equipment that is lost, stolen or damaged because of the employee's negligence, misuse or abuse.
  6. Work Schedules/Communications
    1. Work Schedules. An alternative work arrangement does not necessarily alter the employee’s work schedule. The specific work schedule of a participating employee shall be agreed upon by the supervisor and employee and described in the agreement.
    2. Employee Availability
      1. Participating employees shall be available for communication and contact during telecommuting as they would be if working at their regularly assigned place of employment.
      2. Participating employees and their supervisors shall agree on how their communications shall be handled. During the agreed upon work schedule, it is expected that the participating employee shall be available for contact by phone or email and may be asked to report to their regularly assigned place of employment on an arranged schedule.
  7. Work Documentation, Timekeeping and Leave
    1. Work Documentation. Participating employees and supervisors should identify work items for review and discussion on an ongoing basis to ensure that tasks are fully described and timely performed and/or completed.
    2. Timekeeping. Participating employees will be required to maintain accurate time accounting documentation to support their work hours and must submit regular weekly time reports detailing hours worked. 
      1. Overtime. Under the Federal Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), non-exempt employees will be compensated in pay or compensatory time for overtime that has been approved by the supervisor in accordance with the provisions of the FLSA.
      2. State Compensatory Time. With dean or director approval, an employee may earn state compensatory time for work performed at home or other regular place of employment.
      3. Leave. Pursuant to established University policies, employees must obtain supervisory approval before taking accrued and available leave.
  8. Liability
    1. Injuries at Remote Work Site. The University assumes no liability for injury at the remote work site to any other person who would not be in the work area if the duties were being performed at the regular place of employment. An injured employee participating in telecommuting must notify his or her supervisor immediately and complete all requested documents. Workers' Compensation benefits will apply to injuries arising out of and in the course and scope of employment.
    2. Damages to Personal Property and Operating Costs. The University will not be liable for damages to employee-owned equipment being used in telecommuting or that may result from telecommuting. The University will not be responsible for operating costs, home maintenance, or any other incidental costs (e.g. utilities, telephone, insurance, connectivity) associated with the use of the employee's residence for telecommuting, unless specifically provided in advance and in writing by the department head as outlined in the agreement.
  9. Duration of Agreements.  Telecommuting Agreements will remain in effect unless terminated in accordance with the procedures set forth in this policy or as documented in respective agreements. 
  10. Termination of Agreement.  Employees may request telecommuting be terminated with ten (10) University working days written notice. It is recommended that supervisors make a decision regarding the termination request within ten (10) University business days. The University reserves the right to terminate the agreement with ten (10) University business days notice if the University determines in its sole discretion that the telecommuting arrangement no longer is in the best interest of the University. The University also reserves the right to terminate without a notice period for any violations of University policy, a violation of the conditions of the agreement or when there is a relevant change in University policy or law. 
  11. Return of University Property.  When the agreement is terminated, the employee must promptly return all notes, data, reference materials, sketches, drawings, memoranda, reports, records, equipment, software, supplies, and any other University property in the employee's possession or control. 
  12. Damaged or Lost Property.  The University shall not be held responsible for costs, damages, or losses associated with the termination of the agreement.

E.  Responsibilities

See Policy and Procedures section.

F.  Review

This policy shall be reviewed by Human Resources every five years or as legislation changes.