Human Resources

Flexible Work Arrangement Policy

Flexible Work Arrangement Policy

As a residential institution, Union College relies on employees’ presence on campus to meet student and operational needs. In addition, the College recognizes a collaborative work environment is often best achieved when employees are in physical proximity, where there is a greater opportunity for increased communication, better teamwork, higher morale and improved productivity. At the same time, the College recognizes that flexibility in the workplace helps employees balance personal and professional responsibilities, and flexible work arrangements may be made when appropriate and consistent with the needs of an employee and the College.

The availability of flexible work arrangements will vary by division, department and position based on business and operational needs. To be successful, flexible work arrangements must not cause any reduction in service, quality of work or productivity. The approval or denial of a request for an ongoing flexible work arrangement is at the discretion of both the supervisor and division Vice President and must be reviewed and approved by Human Resources prior to implementation.

Examples of flexible work arrangements include:

  • Remote work is an arrangement that permits eligible staff members whose job duties may be performed remotely and who have demonstrated the ability to perform productively to work remotely. Remote work may be for partial days/weeks and, in extraordinary circumstances, a fully remote arrangement.
  • Flextime is an arrangement that allows for flexible scheduling that permits variations in starting and departure times but does not alter the total number of hours worked in a workweek.

Procedure for Requesting a Flexible Work Arrangement
Staff members seeking a flexible work arrangement may submit a written request to their supervisor using the downloadable Flexible Work Arrangement Request Form, which should be submitted to Human Resources based upon the guidelines set forth below.

Procedure for Evaluating Flexible Work Arrangements
Supervisors will work with staff, their department head and Vice President to develop effective flexible work arrangements that support the functions of their departments and the College. Prior to forwarding the form to Human Resources, flexible work arrangement requests will be considered by the supervisor who will review the request with their department head and division Vice President to determine whether the request is appropriate based upon the guidelines set forth in this policy.

Supervisors considering a flexible work arrangement should consider a number of factors, including whether the workplace needs to be fully staffed for the entire period of the regularly scheduled workday.

Staggered Start and End Times – Where practical, arrival and departure times for employees can be staggered to meet both the needs of the employee and the department. Supervisors are responsible for ensuring that there is adequate coverage and supervision during the staggered hours. Flextime that involves staggered hours and does not include a significant variation from the employee’s normal work schedule may be approved or denied by a supervisor after consultation with their department head and Vice President. Human Resources does not need to approve these types of flexible work arrangements.

Occasional Remote Work Arrangements – Occasional, infrequent remote work is permitted when an employee’s work can be performed remotely and when approved by an employee’s supervisor. This type of situation may arise when an employee can be more productive at home to complete an assignment or other factors render a remote work arrangement the most effective solution for the employee and the College as needed. Please note it is not the employee’s prerogative to decide to work remotely without supervisor approval. Supervisors may approve or deny an employee’s request for an occasional remote work arrangement. The supervisor and the employee are each responsible for ensuring that the employee works productively while remote. Vice Presidents and Human Resources do not need to approve occasional remote work arrangements.

Emergency Remote Work Arrangements – In the event of an emergency such as a weather disaster or pandemic, the College may allow or require employees to temporarily work from home to ensure business continuity. Employees who are required to work remotely during an emergency will be notified by the College. Human Resources does not need to approve emergency remote work arrangements. Employees should not assume any specified period for emergency remote work arrangements, and the College may require employees to return to regular, on-site work at any time.

Other Flexible Work Arrangements – Requests for flexible work arrangements that involve a significant deviation from the employee’s normal work schedule or work location will be evaluated on a case-by-case basis. Supervisors are responsible for consulting with the staff member regarding the reasons for the request and the needs of the department in which the employee works. The supervisor must review all such requests with the department head and Vice President. The evaluation must be documented on the Flexible Work Arrangement Request form and will take into account the following factors:

  1. Are the employee’s job responsibilities capable of being performed effectively under the proposed arrangement?
  2. Will the flexible work arrangement allow the department or program to maintain appropriate staffing levels during the department or program’s core hours?
  3. Will the flexible work arrangement provide coverage for department or program operations?
  4. What is the impact of the flexible work arrangement on those who depend upon the staff member’s services (e.g., students, faculty, parents, and colleagues)?
  5. How will the employee participate in team meetings and other group meetings?
  6. Does the employee meet or exceed job requirements and is the employee’s work style compatible with the flexible work arrangement?
  7. Does the flexible work arrangement serve the College with increased productivity without sacrificing the quality or quantity of the employee’s work product, teamwork, collaboration, or availability?
  8. Will the flexible work arrangement impact the employee’s current benefits and/or pay?
  9. [For proposed remote work arrangements only] Does the employee have suitable internet at home
  10. Are there cost considerations (e.g., equipment, services, etc.)?
  11. Are there confidentiality and/or security considerations?

The Director of Employee Relations or designee will partner with departments to coach and guide supervisors as well as staff through the evaluation process. Supervisors must discuss the request with the relevant department head and Vice President prior to submitting the completed Remote Work Arrangement Request form to the Director of Employee Relations. Human Resources must review any flexible work arrangement that involves a significant change to an employee’s work hours or work location prior to approval.

If approved, the employee will receive written documentation of the flexible work arrangement approval that sets forth the terms and conditions of the arrangement. Like all other employees, employees working remotely must always maintain satisfactory job performance, including, among other requirements, continuing to work normal work hours, responding to all work-related calls, emails and other messages on a timely basis, completing all work assigned on a timely basis and complying with all College policies. If a request for a flexible work arrangement is not approved, the supervisor will inform the employee of the reason(s) for the decision.

The College reserves the right to approve or deny any flexible work arrangement and to review, modify or revoke such arrangements once approved. Flexible work arrangements will be reviewed after the first three months and annually thereafter to ensure that the arrangement continues to serve the needs of both the employee and the College.

Expectations for All Remote Work Arrangements
Employees who work remotely must establish an appropriate work environment within their home for work purposes. An appropriate work environment includes one that is free from everyday distractions, includes a suitable desk or table, has access to internet service, and does not pose any health or safety risks.

Remote work is not intended to permit employees to have time to work at other jobs or to run their own businesses. Failure to fulfill normal work requirements due to other employment may be cause for disciplinary action or termination of employment. In addition, the employee is responsible for securing adequate child or family care for dependents while working to ensure that they are not distracted from work.

Employees must make themselves available on-site as necessary to attend meetings, training, or other required events, even if that day is typically a remote or flex work day. Where possible, the supervisor will provide reasonable advance notice to the employee of their need to be on campus.

The College will not be responsible under remote work arrangements for operating costs, home maintenance, rental fees, local travel to campus or any other incidental costs (e.g., utilities, internet fees, etc.). The College will also not reimburse remote employees for any set-up expenses. While the College does not guarantee access to equipment for remote work arrangements, it may, in its sole discretion, elect to provide remote employees with certain telecommuting equipment. Employees’ use of equipment, software, and any other resources provided by the College is limited to the purposes of remote work and is not intended for employees’ personal use.

Consistent with the College’s expectations of information security for employees working at the office, employees working remotely are required to ensure the protection of proprietary information accessible from their home office.

Remote employees are responsible for tax and insurance consequences, if any, of their remote work arrangements, and for conforming to any local zoning regulations. The College suggests discussing remote work arrangements and associated tax implications with a tax advisor.

Application of Policies and Procedures
The College’s policies and procedures, including those set forth in the Union employee handbooks or guides apply to all employees regardless of work location. Hourly (non-exempt) employees who are authorized to work remotely must accurately record hours worked, including start and stop times and meal periods. Hourly (non-exempt) employees cannot work over their approved hours unless they have supervisor pre-approval. Salaried (exempt) employees must accurately record absence time.

Reasonable Accommodations
Under certain circumstances, an employee may require a remote work arrangement to accommodate a medical condition, pregnancy-related condition or for another other protected reason. Requests for accommodations should be made to Human Resources pursuant to the College’s policies relating to accommodations.

Any questions about this policy can be directed to Human Resources.