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Telecommuting - Telecommuting Guidelines

Purpose

Telecommuting can benefit the University of Maine System, employees, and communities in many ways. It can increase productivity and job satisfaction; improve retention and recruitment; reduce commuting costs, congestion, and pollution; and offer employees greater flexibility.

The University of Maine System encourages voluntary telecommuting when consistent with the needs of the University and an employee’s department. Telecommuting is a voluntary scheduled alternative work arrangement that permits an employee to work at home during part of the workweek using telecommunications technology. Decisions about requests to telecommute will be made consistent with the provisions of the appropriate collective bargaining agreement or employee handbook.

These guidelines apply to continuing or recurring telecommuting arrangements (for example, every Wednesday). Temporary, brief, or occasional telecommuting – for example, to complete a short-term special project or when an employee needs to work from home to care for a sick family member – are not subject to the guidelines.

Universities may develop telecommuting policies consistent with these guidelines.

Eligibility

Telecommuting is available to regular employees who:

  • Have successfully completed their probationary period (unless telecommuting is a condition for accepting employment)
  • Have a record of satisfactory job performance
  • Have work responsibilities that can be performed at home without adversely affecting quality, productivity, and the needs of the University
  • Have ongoing access to telephone and Internet at home

Employees may request to telecommute. Management has sole authority to approve or deny requests. If a request is denied, the employee may ask for review by the university Human Resources office, which will attempt to help develop a resolution acceptable to both the supervisor and the employee.

Criteria

Telecommuting is not suitable or practical for all work or all positions. It is generally not an option for positions involving a high level of student, employee, or public contact or requiring use of tools, equipment, or information that is available only at the University work site. A request to telecommute should not be approved if it results in more than minimal expense to the University.

Telecommuting should not normally exceed 20% of an employee’s workweek or one day per week.

The following characteristics contribute to a successful telecommuting experience:

Employee Supervisor
Well organized, good time management skills Strong communication skills
Independent, self-motivated, able to work with limited supervision Ability to manage by results, not hours worked
High level of job productivity and knowledge Delegates work effectively
Good communication skills Confidence in employee’s work ethic
History of satisfactory job performance and attendance

Conditions

  1. Telecommuting arrangements must be documented in a written agreement approved by the immediate supervisor and the appropriate manager (see attached sample agreement). A copy will be placed in the employee’s personnel file and sent to the University Human Resources office. Any changes to the telecommuting agreement will also be documented.
  2. Approved agreements may be periodically reviewed to ensure that they continue to meet the work demands and needs of the University. A review after six months is required.
  3. The written agreement will include the following provisions:
    1. Expectations about work to be performed from home and regularly scheduled check-in times or meetings.
    2. Core hours when the employee will be available to supervisors, co-workers, and others.
    3. Supervisor responsibility for reviewing work products to ensure that productivity, quality, and service are maintained at appropriate levels.
    4. Agreement about how phone calls to the employee’s University office and the need for others to contact the employee on telecommuting days will be addressed.
    5. Specific work-related expenses incurred by the employee that will be reimbursed by the University. The University does not pay utility costs associated with telecommuting, including phone or Internet service.
    6. For hourly employees, advance supervisor approval if telecommuting will result in the employee working more than 40 hours in a week (Sunday to Saturday).
    7. Employee notification of supervisor and time entry in MaineStreet when disability leave or annual leave will be used during time scheduled for telecommuting.
  4. All University and departmental policies, procedures, and standards of conduct that apply to employees working on campus apply when an employee telecommutes
  5. The employee is responsible for ensuring the confidentiality of University data, records, and other information used, stored, or accessed at home. The employee will complete the attached agreement to protect covered data such as personally identifiable information. The agreement outlines appropriate measures to protect data and report security breaches.
  6. The employee is normally expected to provide his/her own equipment for work performed at home. The University is not responsible for damage, repairs, or maintenance to equipment owned by the employee.
  7. Any University equipment provided for an employee’s home use should be documented as University property and will be returned by the employee when the telecommuting arrangement concludes or the employee leaves University employment. The employee will bring University provided equipment to a University-designated location for maintenance and repairs.
  8. The University will provide supplies for the employee’s use while working from home consistent with supplies provided to other employees.
  9. As required by University policy, the employee will notify the supervisor and enter time in MaineStreet when s/he uses disability leave or annual leave during times scheduled for telecommuting.
  10. Meetings should be held at the campus office, not at home.
  11. Telecommuting is not a substitute for dependent care, and family responsibilities must not interfere with work time. A telecommuting employee is expected to devote all of his or her attention to University business.
  12. The employee is responsible for maintaining an appropriate, safe work area at home for his or her use. The attached checklist or comparable information should be provided to the employee.
  13. The employee will continue to have statutory Workers’ Compensation insurance coverage when telecommuting for an injury that arises out of and in the course of University-approved work. An employee who has a work-related injury must report it immediately to the supervisor and other designated officials responsible for Workers’ Compensation claims. The University has the right to inspect the site of the injury if a work-related injury is reported.
  14. The University is not responsible for damage to employee or third party property or injuries to third parties, unless caused by the negligent acts or omissions of the University.
  15. Either the employee or the University may terminate the telecommuting agreement at any time.
  16. Seniority (applies to ACSUM and UMPSA unit members only) – If more than one employee in the bargaining unit in the same classification and the same department wishes to participate in the telecommuting program and the employees have equal qualifications, the most senior unit member will receive the telecommuting assignment, if both cannot be approved.


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