|Policy Title||Alternative Work Assignments Policy|
|Policy Category||Employment, Benefits, and Workplace Policies|
|Original Policy Approval Date||July 9, 2021|
|Responsible Office||Finance and Administration|
|Related Policies||Grievance Policy, Performance Improvement Plan Policy|
|Frequency of Review||Three (3) Years|
|Date of Next Review||July 9, 2024|
|Date of Revision|
This Alternative Work Assignments Policy (“Policy”) applies to all staff members of the University, including both Exempt and Non-Exempt Staff Members (herein collectively referred to as “employees”). This Policy does not apply to faculty members or student workers. Please see section VII below for the definitions of capitalized terms contained in this Policy.
II. Policy Statement
The purpose of this Policy is to provide guidance when responding to an employee’s request to alter their standard work schedule1. Departments may consider any reasonable Alternative Work Assignment (“AWA”), such as working from home or on a compressed schedule, which supports employees in performing their work at an alternative worksite or on an alternative schedule when it is feasible and meets departmental goals. The University encourages supervisors to permit a reasonable AWA to accommodate individual employee needs. However, even where an AWA is approved, the employee must attend, in person, any meetings or functions requiring physical presence2.
Employees in different time zones or who otherwise are not expected to work during the Standard Work Week due to the nature of their work (such as roles requiring frequent travel and attendance at events taking place outside the Standard Workweek) should already have arranged for consistently defined working hours or schedules with their supervisors, but can also be assessed on an individual basis for eligibility for an AWA.
Like other higher education institutions, our culture values collaboration among members of the University community and accessibility to students, particularly during the Standard Workweek, the University’s core business hours of 8:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. Eastern Standard Time (EST). As a result of the emphasis placed on collaboration and accessibility to students, for many roles, the majority of work time should be spent on campus and during hours where access to others is easily accomplished.
Though an AWA might be a viable option for eligible employees, it is not a right. Some positions do not lend themselves to an AWA. Significant operational needs related to student services, departmental support, supervision of employees, the nature of work, and other factors may require employees to be onsite.
The determination that a position may or may not be appropriate for an AWA is made on a case-by-case basis by the supervisor, in consultation with the University’s Office of Human Resources (“HR”). If an employee makes a request, the departmental supervisor will, in consultation with HR, evaluate whether a position is suitable for an AWA based on the nature of the work that is being performed and the individual employee’s circumstances. Upon the effective date of this Policy, all currently existing AWAs must be submitted to HR for review within thirty (30) days3. Supervisors are required to submit a recent job description with the request for an employee’s AWA.
Factors to consider when evaluating requests for an AWA include, but are not limited to:
- whether the employee (including those who supervise other employees) has demonstrated and sustained high performance, has the ability to work well independently, and whether the supervisor believes the employee can maintain the expected quantity and quality of work while working remotely or on an alternative schedule;
- whether the department can maintain quality of service for students, faculty, and other members of the University community while the employee is not onsite;
- other operational needs as well as strategic considerations;
- the requested work location (if applicable);
- past history or experience performing work in an alternative manner (e.g. remotely or on a compressed schedule); opportunities for innovation and the development of new efficiencies and modes of service delivery; and whether an AWA is appropriate considering the nature of the job.
Generally, requests for an AWA will not be granted when:
- the job requires the employee’s physical presence;
- an AWA would impair the University or department’s efficiency;
- the employee’s current assignment requires frequent supervision, direction, or input from others who are onsite or requires that the employee provide frequent supervision, direction, or input to other employees who are onsite; or
- the employee is or has been on a Performance Improvement Plan within the past six (6) months, has received a disciplinary action within the past six (6) months, does not present the ability to work independently4, and/or exhibits unsatisfactory work performance.
Supervisors will be asked to respond to these factors in assessing requests for the AWA, and submit those responses to HR.
Of course, if an employee has exhibited unsatisfactory work performance, including, but not limited to, unsatisfactory productivity levels, problems with attendance, or issues of misconduct, it is anticipated that the supervisor, in addition to denying a request for an AWA, will also be taking steps to address the unsatisfactory work performance pursuant to the University’s Performance Improvement Plan Policy.
IV. General Expectations
All AWAs must be responsive to changing needs and will be reviewed at least annually to ensure the business needs are being met and may be canceled, with, to the extent reasonably practicable, reasonable notice, at the discretion of the supervisor. AWAs should not be considered permanent. All supervisors are expected to consider all formal proposals for an AWA objectively and fairly but are not required to grant approval. An objective consideration of an AWA proposal is intended to ensure an equitable process but does not guarantee similar outcomes among employees due to differences in job roles, job performance, and departmental operations. Therefore, some employees will not be able to take advantage of every provision allowed by this Policy.
Employees who participate in an AWA must comply with all University policies and procedures, including safeguarding and securing any restricted or confidential information with which they work. Failure to fulfill normal work requirements, both qualitative and quantitative, may be cause for suspension or revocation of the AWA, or disciplinary action, up to and including termination of employment. The at-will nature of employment will be unchanged.
With the exception of any unique Summer Hours, employees who participate in an AWA are expected to have regularly scheduled work hours, to be fully accessible during those hours, and to attend group meetings and functions in person unless prior approval to participate via teleconference is obtained from the supervisor. Non-Exempt or hourly employees who participate in an AWA are required to report their work hours and take required rest breaks and meal periods. Employees cannot be doing work for another employer or taking care of other responsibilities, such as family caregiving, while they are supposed to be working remotely.
If issues of health, disability, or family caregiving emerge during a supervisor’s conversations with an employee about flexibility, managers must consult with HR to determine if an employee proposal for an AWA is more appropriately addressed or covered by paid or unpaid leave, such as sick leave or leave pursuant to the Family and Medical Leave Act (“FMLA”) or should be considered as a request for reasonable accommodation under the Americans with Disabilities Act (“ADA”) via the University’s Disability Support Services Policy for Employees and Applicants.
All University and staff policies apply to employees utilizing an AWA.
- Once an AWA has been approved, the employee should submit a ticket to firstname.lastname@example.org for an evaluation of their needs and other assistance from Information Technology (“IT”) to ensure the safety of the University’s data and confidential information. The University reserves the right for IT to, in collaboration with departments, make determinations as to appropriate equipment and other technological needs, based on information supplied by the employee and the supervisor, on a case-by-case basis, and subject to change at any time. Employees should at all times comply with the University’s Information Technology Policy.
At the end of the AWA, or if the employee ceases employment with the University, the employee must return all University equipment, supplies, and work-related data, documents, and other materials that are property of the University to the University within three (3) business days unless otherwise specified in writing by the University.
Except in very narrow circumstances related to legal compliance, any costs associated with internet and telephone service will be the responsibility of the employee. The University accepts no responsibility for damage or repairs to employee-owned equipment even if used for work-related purposes. IT will provide remote support only for University-owned devices. If an issue arises where a technician physically needs to work on the device, the employee is responsible for bringing the device back to campus for IT service. Failure to comply with the requirements of this Section or otherwise to ensure the safety of the University’s data and confidential information in compliance with University policy may be cause for suspension or revocation of the AWA or disciplinary action, up to and including termination of employment.
HR will review any new and current AWA requests provided by a supervisor. An AWA will not be considered official until the employee receives written confirmation from your supervisor. All approved AWAs will be reviewed annually and the supervisor, in consultation with HR, will determine if that AWA will be renewed. As noted, AWAs should not be considered permanent and can be terminated at any time, with or without notice. Failure to comply with the requirements of this Policy may be cause for suspension or revocation of the AWA, or disciplinary action, up to and including termination of employment.
Employees who believe they have been unreasonably denied an AWA may seek action under the University’s Grievance Policy.
Alternative Work Arrangements (“AWA”) are work arrangements that are variations from the standard workday, workweek, and/or work location.
A Performance Improvement Plan is designed to carefully monitor employee performance with the expectation that performance will improve within the designated time frame. This program is designed, enforced, and implemented by the Office of Human Resources pursuant to the Performance Improvement Plan Policy.
Non-Campus Employees are employees who work for the University but their job description specifically does not mandate that they work on campus (either Glenside or Christiana) at all. Put another way, the job description is for a Non-Campus Employee or the employee was hired with the understanding that the work would be remote. As for most such roles, the job description permits the University to change this at will, Non-Campus Employees will be included in the initial and annual review process.
A Non-Exempt Staff Member is defined under the Fair Labor Standards Act as a Staff Member holding a position that is subject to the overtime provisions of the Act. An Exempt Staff Member is defined under the Fair Labor Standards Act as a Staff Member holding a bona fide executive, administrative, or professional position that is not subject to the overtime provisions of the Act. The Standard Workweek is Monday – Friday, 8:30 a.m. – 5:00 p.m. Eastern Standard Time (EST). Summer Hours refers to any alternative schedules which may from time to time be established by the University for the summer months. University refers to Arcadia University, its colleges, schools, affiliates, divisions and subsidiaries.
The Standard Workweek is Monday – Friday, 8:30 a.m. – 5:00 p.m. Eastern Standard Time (EST).
Summer Hours refers to any alternative schedules which may from time to time be established by the University for the summer months.
University refers to Arcadia University, its colleges, schools, affiliates, divisions and subsidiaries.
VIII. Effective Date
This Policy is effective on the date that it is signed by the President.
IX. Date of Approval
July 9, 2021
1This Policy does not apply to occasional requests by an employee to work from home or adjust their hours, but rather only to requests to alter the employee’s standard work schedule, on an ongoing basis. In addition, should a large-scale incident prompting significant interruptions to the University’s standard work schedule occur for reasons such as, but not limited to, a weather-related emergency, inaccessibility of University facilities, or a public health concern, the University may ask or direct all or some defined population of the University’s employees to work on an alternative work assignment, such as working from home. In such instances, expectations related to the establishment of the alternative work assignment as delineated in Section III (“Policy”) may be relaxed, altered, or waived. But, unless instructed otherwise, affected employees would still be expected to comport with Section IV (¶¶ 2-5) (“General Expectations”) and Section V (“Technology”). Specific instructions will be provided to employees and supervisors in any such cases.
2It is anticipated that the employee will be able to capably assess whether physical presence is required. However, should a dispute arise over the necessity of an employee’s physical presence at a meeting or function, the supervisor overseeing the AWA shall make the ultimate determination about whether physical presence is required.
3This includes existing Non-Campus Employees.
4This may be the case for some new employees, for whom an AWA may become reasonable after some further time of service in the department.