Guidelines and Procedures for Telecommuting
A Supportive Work Environment Initiative
UCSF encourages telecommuting from home offices to create a supportive work environment. Telecommuting is a voluntary work arrangement in which an eligible employee with approval “works one or more days each work week from home instead of commuting to a work place.” Telecommuting is generally not intended for situations involving employees who no longer reside in California where the workplace is located, nor is it intended as a means of working from home on a full-time basis. Any establishment of a telecommuting agreement outside the state of California may carry tax implications and must be discussed with both the Controller’s Office and Labor and Employee Relations.
Communication during telecommuting arrangements may be by phone, modem, fax, pager, or other agreed upon means. Work and telecommunication equipment may be owned and maintained by the employee or by the University.
If implemented by management in a given unit, regular status career employees and non-faculty academic personnel may apply to participate consistent with these guidelines. The approval for an employee to telecommute rests solely with management of the University. All managers, supervisors, and telecommuters should be familiar with these guidelines. Telecommuting will be assessed and approved by management on a case-by-case basis.
- Department heads or their designees are authorized to establish telecommuting within their units.
- Campus managers may elect to implement telecommuting within their units. If telecommuting is implemented, managers are encouraged to give serious consideration to all reasonable requests for participation.
- Approval for an employee to telecommute rests solely with the management of the University.
- As needed, departments may review proposed telecommuting agreements with Labor and Employee Relations before implementation for compliance with policy, the applicable collective bargaining agreement, and/or the law.
- Regular status career employees and non-faculty academic personnel who have completed probation, if one was required, after receiving signed management approval.
- Employee selection shall be based on specific, written, work-related criteria established by management, with reasonable accommodation for employees who are permanently or temporarily disabled.
- These guidelines do not apply to independent contractors.
STEPS FOR INITIATING TELECOMMUTING
Either employee or management may propose a telecommuting work option for the employee.
- If proposed by the employee, the employee completes a Telecommuting Proposal and submits it to the supervisor (see template).
- The employee and supervisor assess the feasibility of telecommuting and determine telecommuting options. Department Supervisor:
- considers proposal to implement alternate work arrangement for particular position; if request made by incumbent, acknowledges request, discusses proposal;
- reviews the following: functions/tasks of position under consideration, departmental staffing needs, space and budgetary considerations; and,
- consults with Labor and Employee Relations as necessary on proposal.
If management approves the telecommuting plan, the employee and manager complete a Telecommuting Agreement (see Appendix for template). The supervisor’s manager reviews the Agreement for departmental consistency.
The manager gives the employee the following documents:
- UCSF Telecommuting Guidelines;
- Signed Telecommuting Agreement (and retains a copy for the office); and,
- Supplementary materials, as appropriate.
Department Supervisor notifies employee(s) to begin telecommuting and monitors arrangement(s); maintains open communications and discusses concerns with employee(s) as needed.
If management disapproves the plan as not appropriate to departmental needs and the request was made by employee, the supervisor should advise the employee as soon as is feasible after the decision has been made.
Either management or the employee may terminate telecommuting for any reason, at any time.
GENERAL TERMS OF IMPLEMENTATION
- All approved telecommuting schedules are discretionary and require management approval.
- Telecommuting used as a transitional work program in aiding an employee’s return to work from disability shall be administered consistent with existing collective bargaining agreements, policies and laws.
- Telecommuting may not substitute for primary child or home health care giving.
- Telecommuters are expected to adhere to University rules, regulations, and policies and procedures regarding security and confidentiality. See the UCSF Information Security website for more information.
- Employees must use established dial-in procedures established by the University. See the UCSF VPN Access website for more information.
- Any staff member with VPN access will install virus-protection software and will ensure that the virus definitions are kept current. UCSF has a licensing agreement with Symantec that permits one to install it at home at no cost. See the UCSF Symantec License page for more information.
- The employee is responsible for maintaining employee owned telecommuting equipment.
- Telecommuting employees are responsible for setting aside a home work space that is ergonomically sound, clean, safe, and free of obstructions and hazardous materials.
Document templates and supporting assessment checklists are provided in the appendix.
SELECTION CRITERIA FOR SUCCESSFUL TELECOMMUTING
Employee selection shall not be based on seniority, but on specific, written, work-related criteria established by management. Selection should include reasonable accommodation for employees who are permanently or temporarily disabled.
Prospective telecommuters and their managers should assess whether telecommuting is a viable work option as follows:
Decide if a job is amenable in part or in whole, to being performed away from the main office.
At management’s discretion, a job is amenable to telecommuting if the job or some components of it can be done off-site without disruption to the flow of work and communication. Examples of telecommutable job components include researching, processing, dispensing of information, report writing, or communications that can be done from a distance.
Ensure that work can be equitably distributed so that telecommuting schedules do not require in-office staff do the telecommuter’s work. Where possible, have the telecommuter’s phone calls forwarded to his/her home office phone, use voice mail, or install an answering machine on the office phone which the telecommuter can access from his/her home office phone. Care should also be taken to ensure that telecommuters continue to have access to needed office support. The employee should be able to be reached by phone during assigned work hours.
Screen prospective telecommuters for telecommuting eligibility (See checklist in appendix)
The candidate for telecommuting should display work-related behaviors consistent with those of successful telecommuters.
- A history of reliable and responsible discharge of work duties; e.g., at a performance level of “meets or exceeds expectations” or higher;
- Full understanding of the operations of his/her department;
- Has the trust of his/her manager;
- Is able to establish priorities and has demonstrated effective time management habits;
- Pursues high-quality work production;
- Can maintain a safe and ergonomically sound home work area, free from distractions; and,
- Is reachable by phone during assigned work hours.
Telecommuting should be offered only to employees:
- Who have successfully completed their probationary periods.
- Whose documented performance is satisfactory or whose performance rating on their last evaluation is at least satisfactory.
- Who work effectively with minimal supervision.
Telecommuting may not be appropriate for candidates who:
- Do not feel comfortable with physical isolation from other employees.
- Do not work well independently.
- Cannot create a home work space that is safe (for them, for university equipment and files) and free from distractions.
- Feel they are “out of the loop” and overlooked when it comes to various workplace opportunities.
SCHEDULING (see examples of telecommuting patterns in appendix)
Telecommuting schedules should balance management needs for face-to-face meetings. The telecommuter must be able to be reached via telephone during assigned work hours and must check in via e-mail, phone, etc.
Except under unusual circumstances telecommuters should spend a minimum of one day per week in the main office to ensure that the telecommuter:
- Has regular contact with the supervisor and co-workers.
- Has access to specialized files and/or equipment.
- Does not become isolated from office staff.
Office needs take precedence over telecommute days. A worker must forgo telecommuting if needed in the office on a regularly scheduled telecommute day.
HOURS OF WORK AND OVERTIME
All approved telecommuting schedules are discretionary and require management approval. Management may approve any work schedule for a telecommuter as long as it is consistent with the employee’s work group’s requirements and the provisions of the employee’s collective bargaining agreement, if applicable, or personnel policy.
Management, in accordance with the provisions of the employee’s collective bargaining agreement or personnel policy, must authorize overtime and “call back” time. Compensation or compensatory time off will be authorized by management according to the provisions of the employee’s collective bargaining agreement or personnel policy.
As with any work schedule, temporary telecommuting assignments or schedule changes may be made at management’s discretion to meet management needs or to accommodate an employee’s request. Telecommuting may not substitute for primary child or home health care giving.
CONFIDENTIAL AND SENSITIVE INFORMATION
Telecommuters are expected to adhere to University rules, regulations, policies and procedures regarding security and confidentiality for the computer, its data and information, and any other information handled in the course of work. Employees must use established dial-in procedures established by the University.
MAINTENANCE, REPAIR, AND REPLACEMENT OF EQUIPMENT
The employee is responsible for maintaining and repairing employee owned telecommuting equipment at personal expense and on personal time. The University is responsible for maintaining, repairing and replacing University-owned equipment issued to telecommuters. In the event of equipment malfunction, the telecommuter must notify his/her supervisor immediately. If repairs will take some time, the department will find alternative means to continue the telecommuter’s work including asking the telecommuter to report to the main office until the equipment is usable.
HEALTH AND SAFETY (See Checklist in appendix)
Telecommuting employees are responsible for setting aside a space in their home for work and ensuring that it is ergonomically sound, clean, safe, and free of obstructions and hazardous materials. They must ensure that their homes comply with all building codes, and health and safety requirements, and that they are free of hazardous materials. The University may verify that the home office meets these requirements.
If a telecommuter incurs a work-related injury while telecommuting, worker’s compensation law and rules apply. Employees must notify their supervisors immediately and complete all necessary and/or management requested documents regarding the injury.
None of the rights or benefits provided under the collective bargaining agreements between the University and the employee unions or under the Personnel Policies for Staff Members (PPSM) are enhanced or abridged by the implementation of telecommuting. Employees retain the right to grieve or file a complaint in accordance with the provisions of their collective bargaining agreements or the complaint resolution process.
Employees retain the right to meet with their representative (e.g., job steward) in accordance with the provisions of their collective bargaining agreements. Such meetings will take place at the employee’s departmental offices.
TERMINATION OF PARTICIPATION
The option to implement telecommuting in a department is at the sole discretion of management. Either management or the employee may terminate an employee’s telecommuting arrangement for any reason, at any time. If an employee requests to terminate telecommuting, management will arrange for the employee to begin working at the main office as quickly as possible, but no later than 30 days after notification by the employee. Management may terminate an employee’s telecommuting arrangement without notice, but when possible should provide an employee with as much advance notice as feasible.
Failure by the telecommuter to maintain a home office that is safe, ergonomically sound and free from distraction so as not to interfere with work, as determined by management, provides cause for terminating an employee’s telecommuting arrangement.
Management determines whether telecommuting is appropriate, based upon work requirements. Those who previously had a telecommuting arrangement are not assured of a telecommuting assignment when returning from a leave of absence or after a job transfer.
PERIODIC PERFORMANCE REVIEW
Supervisors should meet regularly with their telecommuters to review performance, including any issues related to the telecommuting arrangement.
EMPLOYEE REIMBURSEMENT PROCEDURES
Responsibility for maintaining the telecommuter’s home equipment should be defined before the start of telecommuting. The employee is responsible for maintaining personal equipment at the employee’s own expense and during personal time.
Each department must arrange to pay for business expenses incurred by telecommuters. The Travel Expense Claim can be used for usual and ordinary University expenses. Employees should retain copies of appropriate reimbursable bills.
Each department will need to plan to pay for charges for business related telephone calls and services.
The University will not pay for the following types of expenses:
- Usage fees for privately owned computers.
- Utility costs associated with the use of the computer or occupation of the home.
- Travel to the central office or parking during telecommuting days.
- Telecommuter purchased office supplies. Telecommuters should obtain supplies from the main office during non-telecommuting days.
Should problems occur with telecommuting, supervisors should handle the issues using applicable procedures.
RENEWAL OF TELECOMMUTING AGREEMENTS
The telecommuter and supervisor should review their telecommuting agreement annually, whenever there is a major job change (such as a promotion), or whenever the telecommuter or supervisor changes positions. Telecommuting was selected because of the combination of job, employee characteristics, and supervisor characteristics. A change in any one of these may require a review of the telecommuting arrangement.
Telecommuters and new supervisors are encouraged to continue telecommuting arrangements by mutual agreement. Neither should be required to do so when it is not in the best interests of either or both parties.