Telecommuting Guidelines for on Campus Positions in Non-emergency Situations

On this page: A. Purpose  | B. Introduction  | C. Eligibility  | D. Employee Telecommuting Requests  | E. Writing an agreement | F. Supervisor’s Responsibilities | G. Definition

These guidelines apply to all Staff employees.

A. Purpose

The guidelines on telecommuting for on campus positions in non-emergency situations assists units in establishing alternate work arrangements for staff whose responsibilities can be performed outside the customary/traditional office setting during part or all of the week. These guidelines address regular, on-going arrangements of working at home, and are not meant for sporadic or infrequent occurrences of at-home work. A telecommuting program allows the University to comply with legislation such as the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990. Also, telecommuting provides alternate methods of addressing budget issues such as limited space and equipment.

B. Introduction

  1. Telecommuting is a voluntary work alternative that may be appropriate for some employees and some work. It does not change the terms and conditions of employment with Indiana University. The success of telecommuting is dependent on it being a mutually beneficial arrangement for the unit and for the employee. All telecommuting arrangements should be transparent to all customers. University and departmental demands remain a priority.
  2. Characteristics of a telecommuter's job:
    1. Not all work is suited to telecommuting. Elements of suitability include work that:
      1. Does not require face to face meetings
      2. Can be performed independently
      3. Does not inconvenience co-workers or customers
      4. Should not require more time for completion away from the regular work setting
    2. Some examples of work that are suited include:
      1. Reading and writing
      2. Research
      3. Editing
      4. Information Technology
  3. The work should not be dependent on face-to-face access to others or physical materials found only at the work site.
  4. Telecommuting is not meant as an alternative for satisfying the employee's dependent care responsibilities. Prospective telecommuters are expected to discuss expectations of telecommuting with his or her family and make arrangements that will not interfere with the completion of work assignments.
  5. The employee is eligible for Workers' Compensation, and must follow the university's procedure for reporting job-related injuries. A designated work space shall be maintained by the telecommuter at the alternate work location.  Workers’ compensation eligibility will be limited to work-related injuries at this work space as opposed to applying to all areas of the work location.
  6. The Office of Insurance, Loss Control & Claims and the Office of Environmental, Health, and Safety Management should be contacted to work with the employee and the supervisor to ensure a safe alternate work environment, and the safety of any university equipment that may be used. Health and safety inspections of a home office may need to be arranged between the employee and Indiana University to ensure it meets university standards. 
  7. Indiana University equipment is for university-related projects only.  The employee may not use university equipment for unlawful purposes, for work for other employers, or allow others to use it.  Any hardware or software purchased by the university remains the property of the university, and will be returned to the university on request.
  8. Telecommuting employees are still obligated to comply with all university rules, policies and procedures. Violation of such rules, policies and procedures may result in immediate cessation of the agreement and possible discipline.
  9. Employees are responsible for observing any municipal zoning ordinances regulating the performance of work at home for telecommuting purposes.  Any and all tax and insurance implications of telecommuting are entirely the responsibility of the employee.  Telecommuting employees are encouraged to seek professional advice (e.g. Accountant, Attorney, etc.) in this area. 

C. Eligibility

  1. The employee requesting a telecommuting agreement must have been employed by the university for a minimum of six (6) months with satisfactory performance reviews.

If more requests for a telecommuting agreement are received than can be accepted, the requests will be considered in order of the employees' seniority.

D. Employee Telecommuting Requests

  1. An employee interested in telecommuting should present a proposal to his/her supervisor in as much detail as possible. The proposal should contain the following:
    1. Reason(s) for the request to telecommute
    2. Length of time the employee would like to work through telecommunication, including number of days per week and the days/hours the employee will be in the regular workplace
    3. An explanation of how necessary communications will be maintained
    4. Clear list of duties that will be performed during telecommuting hours
    5. List of equipment needed to telecommute
    6. Identification of potential problem areas and a plan of how to handle those problems

E. Writing an agreement

  1. A telecommuting agreement will be for a defined period of time and is subject to renewal and amendment. The agreement may be discontinued by the employee or by the supervisor. Every effort will be made by the supervisor to give a notice of ten (10) working days before the date the agreement stops. However, the supervisor may end the agreement without notice if circumstances require such action.
  2. Near the end of the telecommuting agreement both the supervisor and the employee will evaluate the agreement and make recommendations for its continued use. All renewals and changes are subject to the approval of the supervisor.
    1. A telecommuting agreement will contain the following:
      1. Telecommuter's responsibilities
      2. Supervisor's responsibilities
      3. Equipment used at offsite location.  Indiana University equipment is for university-related projects only.     
      4. Payment of expenses such as supplies, upkeep/repair of equipment and the setup of a home office, if necessary
      5. A safe work environment must be utilized to ensure the safety of the employee and any university equipment that may be used. 
      6. Workers' Compensation eligibility and requirements. A designated work space shall be maintained by the employee at the alternative work location. 
      7. Observing any municipal zoning ordinances regulating the performance of work at home for employment purposes.  Any and all tax and insurance implications of working remotely are entirely the responsibility of the employee. 
      8. A disclaimer stating “Nothing contained in this agreement conveys upon the employee a contract of employment”.
    2. All agreements should address the following areas:
      1. What is the length of the agreement? The first telecommuting agreement should be for no less than thirty days to allow the employee and the supervisor to determine if it is going to work or if any changes need to be made.
      2. How the employee and the supervisor are going to communicate? Formally address exactly how the employee and supervisor are going to communicate, including method(s) used and number of times per week as a minimum. The communication arrangements should be set more formally in the beginning to allow the supervisor to determine if telecommuting will work.
      3. How meetings are going to be addressed, including which meetings the employee will attend and which the employee may telecommute? (For non-exempt employees travel time needs to be taken into account.)
      4. How to address telecommuting time not worked for any reason beyond the control of the employee? Example: computer server down.
      5. How will time off be addressed? This includes the process for requesting and documenting time off.
      6. How workstations are to be used, i.e. shared workstations and/or office accommodations when working on site?
      7. How the employee's performance is to be evaluated?
      8. How are hours of work recorded to ensure compliance with the record keeping and overtime requirements of the Fair Labor Standards Act?
      9. How is the safety and security of sensitive data to be maintained?
    3. Before signing the telecommuting agreement, the supervisor should ensure the employee understands all of the obligations as stated in the agreement.
      1. An employee telecommuting is still obligated to comply with all university rules, policies and procedures. Violation of such rules, policies and procedures may result in immediate cessation of the agreement and possible discipline
  3. Copies of the signed agreement are to be distributed to the employee, the supervisor and the campus human resources office.

F. Supervisor's Responsibilities

  1. Develop and execute agreement.
    1. Determine what positions contain characteristics that are suitable for telecommuting.
    2. Set standards for performance.
    3. Determine the length of the agreement
    4. Distribute to the employee, as well as the campus human resources office.
  2. Receive and review work.
  3. Verify, confirm or otherwise certify the accuracy of the time worked.
  4. Evaluate effectiveness of the arrangement including communications.
  5. Determine if the agreement will be extended or ended and execute new or revised agreement if necessary.

G. Definition

Telecommuting: Working from a location other than the traditional office setting for one or more days a week