Careful consideration should be given to a flexible work arrangement to set the employee and the unit or department up for success. Follow this 3-step process to evaluate, approve, and implement a flexible work arrangement:
- Assess eligibility considerations for both the position and the incumbent.
- Request and approval.
Note that the Request and Approval process does not apply to temporary flexible arrangements related to COVID-19 that are currently in place through September 2021. New or on-going (non-pandemic related arrangements) are required to follow the Request and Approval process as described.
- Implementation, monitoring, and on-going management of FWA.
FWAs can be a benefit in many situations; however, it does not mean they will be appropriate for every unit, every job type, and for every employee. When considering implementing a FWA, leaders should evaluate the eligibility of both the position and the incumbent.
Establishing position-based FWA eligibility and criteria for employee readiness for an FWA helps maximize equity by giving employees in eligible positions the same access to an FWA based on whether their specific job requirements are compatible with the arrangement. It is important that departments establish fair and equitable processes to determine whether an employee is successful in the FWA.
In general, employees will only be eligible for a FWA when their work is up to date and they have demonstrated the skills and qualities needed to succeed in the proposed FWA. Leaders should take the following into consideration:
- Performance and productivity of the employee, including demonstrated ability to:
- Prioritize work to meet deadlines.
- Understand their role and expectations.
- Be organized, highly disciplined and self-motivated.
- Communicate effectively with stakeholders, such as colleagues, their supervisor, students or other customers and campus partners.
- Manage time effectively.
- Work independently and with minimal supervision in an effective manner.
- Current attendance patterns.
- Whether the employee is in their trial service/probationary period.
- Whether the employee is FLSA Exempt (not eligible for overtime) or Non-Exempt (eligible for overtime.).
- Employees who are FLSA Exempt (not eligible for overtime) are paid on a salary basis to perform a job on a professional workweek basis. In other words, there is no maximum, or set number of hours per week. At the same time, while these employees have more flexibility in their schedules, they may nevertheless be subject to structured work schedules as set by their supervisors and may be required to receive prior approval to be absent from or leave work during the normal workweek.
- Non-Exempt employees are eligible for overtime and must be compensated at the rate of 1.5 times their regular rate of pay for hours over 40 worked in a workweek. These employees must track and account for time spent in the workplace, and supervisors may have greater influence over employees’ work schedules. Nevertheless, flexible work arrangements are possible with supervisor approval.
Represented employees may be eligible for FWAs, but leaders should consult with Employee and Labor Relations to ensure compliance with the appropriate collective bargaining agreement.
In order for a leader to determine if a FWA is appropriate, their primary criteria in this decision-making process should be if the FWA will meet the business needs of the workplace and if essential functions of the position can be effectively performed under the terms of the proposed FWA. The leader should consider all relevant facts and circumstances when determining whether a FWA is appropriate, which may include the following questions:
What is the nature of your work?
- What does your unit produce or what service(s) does it provide?
- What are your unit’s hours of operation?
- What is evidence of your unit’s productivity?
- Is specialized equipment used?
How does the work get done?
- What are your employees’ responsibilities?
- What are your employees’ current work schedules?
- Are the positions solitary and independent or joint and require daily contributions and interactions?
- Who are your customers?
- What are the formal and informal expectations for service?
- How does your unit communicate to its customers?
- How does your unit communicate with its employees?
- How do your employees communicate to each other?
Where does the work get done?
- What is the location or place of work?
- Can you imagine aspects of the work being done in another location?
- Is distance a factor?
- Are there meetings or events that your employees must be present on campus for?
What types of flexible arrangements are appropriate for your unit?
- How might current employee schedules be altered while maintaining productivity?
- How will job responsibilities, customer service, and productivity be maintained in new arrangements?
- How will the employees maintain communication with your customers, co-workers, and you when working an altered schedule?
- Do the proposed flexible work arrangements unintentionally increase co-workers’ responsibilities or work?
Example: If the employee proposes to work at home, will their phone be forwarded to their home office or will another employee in the office be expected to answer it?
- How will productivity be measured?
Example: If the employee is working remotely and is assigned a project, evidence of productivity is the quality of the work product and its on-time completion.
- What types of FWAs would work best in your unit?
- If your unit must be open for students from 8:00am to 5:00pm, employee start time might begin as early as 7:00am or end as late as 6:00pm to accommodate closing and ending procedures.
- If you have adequate staff who share responsibilities, the work day might extend to accommodate 10 hour days.
- If the nature of your employee’s work is web work, the work could be done in another location.
- If all of your employees were to ask for FWAs, what kinds of arrangements might you be able to offer?
Note: Not every employee will ask for a FWA and decisions to allow an FWA must be made objectively and with adequate justification if employees in the same or similar positions have differing work arrangements. Consult with Employee and Labor Relations for further guidance.
Employees and supervisors involved in a FWA of any length must proceed consistent with the Flexible Work Arrangements policy, procedures, and guidance. These arrangements must be agreed upon by both the supervisor and the employee, but ultimately it will be up to the supervisor to determine feasibility and if the FWA is approved.
Schools, colleges, or divisions exploring large scale implementation of FWAs to move their employees to predominantly remote work arrangements are required to submit a request memo to the Provost (for academic units) or the President (for administrative units) for review and discussion in advance of approval or implementation of the FWAs.
Informal Flexible Work Arrangements
Informal or occasional FWAs of 5 days or fewer do not require a signed agreement and may be approved by the direct supervisor, after review of these procedures. Leaders should document the agreed upon arrangement in an email or other format that can be reviewed by both the employee and supervisor.
Formal Flexible Work Arrangements
FWAs for 6 or more days must be in writing. The request must include enough information for their supervisor to consider the impact on the unit and general feasibility. If the supervisor approves the initial request, the employee and supervisor must work together to complete the appropriate flexible work arrangements agreement form.
FWAs of 6 to 30 consecutive days, or non-consecutive requests that add up to 30 days or more, require a signed agreement approved by the direct supervisor.
On-going FWAs of 31 days or longer require a signed agreement approved by the appropriate Vice President, the Athletic Director, the Provost, or their designee(s).
The supervisor must establish and follow a review process to evaluate any formal FWA to ensure that work standards are being met. It is recommended that evaluation meetings be held at least once every 3 months during the first year of the agreement, and at least annually during the employee’s evaluation after that. Failure to meet obligations of the agreement could result in the supervisor modifying or terminating the agreement.
Once a FWA is in place, supervisors should take steps to ensure that employees in the unit, including those with a FWA, remain engaged, have all of the information they need, and are appropriately included in meetings, communications, team building exercises, etc.