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Flexible Work Arrangement Consultation

The university provides flexible work options to eligible employees for work flexibility to enable them to better manage their personal and work life. Flexible work arrangements, where appropriate, are work arrangements wherein employees come to an agreement with their manager to work from other locations on a regularly recurring basis (for example, working from home every Friday), or adjust the start and end times of their workday (for example, from 6:30 a.m.-3:30 p.m. instead of 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.) to fulfill the obligations of their positions.

Employee & Labor Relations (“ELR”) consults with schools, local Human Resources Managers, managers, and employees who are seeking guidance related to flexible work arrangements.

Types of Flexible Work Arrangements

Flextime: “Flextime” is a generic term referring to flexible work schedules that permit non-exempt employees to vary their starting or ending times, but does not change the total number hours worked in a day or week. Typically, variable periods are either at the start or end of the workday with a designated "core-time" set in the middle. Non-exempt employees cannot work more than eight hours a day without receiving overtime pay unless an Alternative Work Schedule has been elected (see below) or there is an approved request for Make-Up Time. Non-exempt employees working flextime schedules must be provided with rest and meal periods. See Administrative Guide Memo 2.1.5: Compensation of Staff Employees.

Telecommuting: Telecommuting is a mutual agreement between a supervisor and an employee that some part(s) of the employee's work or workweek is performed at a location away from their Stanford-provided work location on a regular, recurring basis. Issues of appropriate supervision, the nature of the work, and compliance with all legal requirements must be carefully considered before such an arrangement can be approved. The arrangement must be carefully monitored on an ongoing basis.

Alternative Work Schedule: “Alternative Work Schedule” or “AWS” is a schedule that allows a non-exempt employee to work a standard 40-hour workweek in fewer than five 8-hour workdays without being subject to overtime pay. A common alternative work schedule is four 10-hour workdays. See Administrative Guide Memo 2.1.5: Compensation of Staff Employees for details. Note: A manager cannot simply grant a non-exempt employee the option of an AWS. AWS is permitted under California state regulations that impose specific requirements that must be followed before an AWS may be implemented. Please consult with ELR to discuss specific requirements. 

General Considerations for Flextime/Telecommuting

All employment out-of-state or out-of-country must comply with Administrative Guide Memo 2.2.12: Out-of-State Employees

  • Flextime and telecommuting, generally, are granted at the discretion of management, taking into consideration factors such as the nature of the work to be performed, productivity, union contracts, task interdependence, needs of the department and co-workers, health and safety consequences, equity, benefits issues, performance management, and operational constraints.
  • The local Human Resources office should consult with ELR when considering flexible work arrangements to anticipate and address potential issues. 
  • If flextime or telecommuting is agreed upon, implementation should come after careful review with the employee of the specific option, expectations of performance, and the logistics of transition.
  • A pilot period is strongly recommended with regularly scheduled reviews with the affected employee.
  • The arrangement should be carefully monitored at regular intervals to ensure conformance with operational needs. For telecommuting, compliance with AGM 2.1.20 is required. AGM 2.1.20 imposes requirements such as signing a Telecommuting Agreement, completing the Home Office Computer Workstation Safety Checklist, completion of ergonomics training (EHS-3400, available at no charge in STARS), and a Computer Workstation Ergonomics Evaluation, among other requirements.  Flextime arrangements should be memorialized or confirmed in writing and placed in the employee’s personnel file.
  • Flextime and telecommuting arrangements are possibilities, not guarantees.
  • Employees represented by a union should refer to their respective collective bargaining agreements.

General Considerations for Granting Telecommuting

  • The Work to Be Performed: Prior to implementing a telecommuting arrangement, it is important to have discussions regarding the specific tasks and duties that will be performed. In some cases, the work being performed may not lend itself to being done at another location other than the Stanford work location. Recommended discussion points include:
    • Whether the responsibilities to be performed outside the usual workplace are appropriate to the individual's job classification assignment;
    • Whether the work to be performed off-site meets a business and critical operational need;
    • The degree of interaction (both in person and by phone) with other university offices required to get the work done;
    • Ability to provide expected levels of customer service;
    • Whether the job includes supervising the work of others;
    • How the employee will be available to respond to real time work questions (e.g., work a set schedule; be accessible by phone, e-mail, instant chat);
    • Whether the employee has completed at least six months of their trial period;
    • Whether the employee has the resources needed to telecommute successfully; and/or
    • Other factors deemed relevant by the manager and/or university.
       
  •  Employee's Current Performance: When evaluating a potential telecommuting arrangement, it is important to take into consideration an employee’s performance level. Generally, telecommuting may be considered when the performance is at an acceptable level or above and the employee has completed their trial period. Telecommuting arrangements are typically not a consideration when performance management or corrective actions are in effect.
     
  • Supervision: Supervisors are responsible for ensuring that they continue to supervise an employee in a telecommuting arrangement. Specific items include:
    • Clarity as to how performance will be evaluated;
    • The degree of supervision required to accomplish the work;
    • The supervisor's ability to evaluate whether work is being performed;
    • The supervisor's ability to verify the time spent working; e.g., whether the work has measurable outputs (e.g., pages to be typed, a paper to be produced, a specific number of accounts to be reconciled, etc.); and/or
    • The degree of confidence the supervisor has in the employee's ability to accomplish the work off site.
       
  • Work Environment: The work environment that is proposed for the telecommuting arrangement needs to be appropriate to accomplish the work without competing obligations. There also needs to be appropriate data and document security.
     
  • The Specific Request and Agreement: Employees typically propose the telecommuting arrangement to management. If management agrees, a Telecommuting Agreement must be signed. Some of the key items included in the Telecommuting Agreement are:
    • The schedule and duration of the telecommuting arrangement (all telecommuting arrangements must be reviewed and confirmed at least annually);
    • Whether funding sources restrict where the work is performed;
    • Clarity that the arrangement is not a guarantee, and that management may revoke the arrangement in its sole discretion at any time;
    • Confirmation that all university policies and procedures apply while telecommuting;
    • Confirmation that all work-related injuries and illnesses which occur while telecommuting must be reported immediately and the appropriate workers compensation processes must be followed;
    • For non-exempt employees, compliance with any rest and meal break requirements;
    • For non-exempt employees, confirmation as to whether overtime is permitted and how it is monitored and approved;
    • Clarity as to responsibility for compliance with ergonomic requirements; and/or
    • Confirmation that the employee has the necessary resources to ensure successful telecommuting.

Requests for regularly occurring flextime and telecommuting should be made in writing (for example, by email) by the employee to their manager. The manager should explore the request directly with the employee and consult with their local Human Resources Manager. See Administrative Guide Memo 2.1.20: Staff Telecommuting and Remote Working for more information and requirements.

Structuring a Flexible Work Arrangement

When memorializing a flexible work arrangement, it is important to ensure the appropriate local Human Resources office and ELR representative are involved in finalizing any flexible work options or changes to existing flexible work arrangements.

For more information or questions, please contact ELR at stanfordelr@stanford.edu.