Chapter 35: Remote Work Policy
35.1 Policy and Purpose
The University of Texas at El Paso (UTEP) encourages all supervisors to review the responsibilities of their work unit and, when feasible and appropriate, allow their employees to work remotely when the mission of the unit can be accomplished without being physically present in the workplace. It is the policy of UTEP to provide for the administration of a remote work program, which permits remote work arrangements when it is in the best interests of the University.
This policy is at the University’s discretion and the opportunity to work remotely may be withdrawn at any time at the University’s discretion.
Employees who are allowed to work remotely must comply with all University rules, policies, practices, and instructions and understand that violation may result in termination of remote work privileges and/or discipline up to, and including, dismissal from the University.
Remote work does not change the basic terms and conditions of employment with the University. Remote work assignments do not change an employee’s classification, compensation, or benefits. The accrual and charging of leave time is subject to the same policies and procedures applicable to non-remote work employees.
The employment relationship between the University and each of its employees may be terminated in accordance with applicable policies found in the Handbook of Operating Procedures. Remote work assignments are not contracts or promises of employment. Nothing in a remote work assignment guarantees employment for any specific term, nor alters the current nature of employment.
35.2.1 Principal location – UTEP.
35.2.2 Regularly assigned place of employment - the location on the University campus where an employee usually and customarily reports for work or where work is performed.
35.2.3 Remote Work - an authorized work arrangement that involves an employee routinely working one or more days per week at a location that is not the regularly assigned place of employment.
35.2.4 Remote Work Agreement – An agreement between the supervisor and employee that grants approval to an employee to remote work specifying the work to be performed and the length of time.
35.3.1 This policy applies to University staff, both classified and administrative and professional positions. It does not apply to faculty positions or positions that require student status as a condition of employment.
35.3.2 Supervisors, at their own discretion, may allow some or all of their staff to work remotely. Supervisors are responsible for ensuring that their departments perform critical work to care for the UTEP community and maintain operations to the appropriate extent communicated by the University.
35.3.3 Supervisors who allow remote work should regularly communicate with their staff regarding the fluidity of such situations as well as changing business needs (such as the need to report to campus). Supervisors may revoke remote work at any time and for any reason.
35.4.1 Remote Work and the Employment Relationship. Remote work includes alternative work arrangements available to employees whose job duties are appropriate for such an assignment. The decision to authorize remote work is within management’s discretion based on the nature of the work being performed and other business considerations. The arrangement is voluntary and participation does not alter an employee’s work relationship with the University nor does it relieve an employee from the obligation to observe all applicable University rules, policies and procedures. All existing terms and conditions of employment, including but not limited to the position description, salary, benefits, vacation, sick leave and overtime remain the same as if the employee worked only at his or her regularly assigned place of employment.
35.4.2 Agreement and Approvals Required. A Remote Work Agreement must be completed and approved by the employee's supervisor and must have the approval of the Dean or Department Head prior to the employee initiating a remote work arrangement. The agreement must contain a description of the work to be performed by the participating employee, as well as a typical work project or assignment, or a job description detailing the general nature of the work to be performed.
35.4.3 Criteria for remote work. Remote work arrangements are appropriate only when both the abilities of the employee and the nature of the work to be performed meet the minimum criteria set out below. Supervisors may apply more rigorous criteria when determining whether an employee and position are appropriate for remote work arrangements.
18.104.22.168 Supervisor Considerations. Remote work is appropriate for employees who:
- Have the abilities to successfully organize, manage time, work independently and productively with minimal supervision, and have at least a satisfactory work performance history;
- Have a thorough knowledge and understanding of their job functions and the equipment required for the remote work arrangement;
- Have access to a remote work site that is safe and free from interruptions; and
- Are able to provide the security necessary to adequately protect any University information and equipment used at the remote work site.
- Supervisors have the discretion to approve or deny an employee’s request for remote work based on job or business related criteria.
- Supervisors should communicate specific expectations to individual team members. To ensure that the remote work assignment is mutually beneficial to both the University and staff members, planning and communicating expectations in advance of the remote work is crucial.
- Supervisors are required to complete a Remote Work Agreement for each of their full-time employees allowed to work remotely.
22.214.171.124 Position Requirements. Positions that may be considered for remote work arrangements are those that:
- Have job functions that can be performed at a remote site without diminishing the quality of the work or disrupting the productivity of a unit;
- Do not require an employee's presence at the regularly assigned place of employment on a daily or routine basis;
- Allow for an employee to be as effectively supervised as he or she would be if the job functions were performed at the assigned place of employment;
- Have an emphasis on the electronic production and/or exchange of information by means of computers, Wi-Fi, or phones;
- Involve measurable or quantifiable work product; and
- Have minimal or flexible need for specialized materials or equipment available only at the regularly assigned work site.
126.96.36.199 Positions that are not suited to remote work are those that:
- Require regular face-to-face contact with a supervisor, other employees, members of the University community or the public; or
- Require routine access to information or materials that are available only at the regularly assigned place of employment.
35.5 Work Sites
35.5.1 Remote Work Site Requirements
- Employees participating in remote work shall have and maintain a healthy and safe environment at the remote work site.
- Non-work related events and activities will not disrupt or interfere with work at the remote work site.
- A supervisor may visit the proposed remote work site to evaluate the appropriateness of the site prior to approving the agreement and may require that a photo of the workspace be attached to the agreement.
- Once the agreement is approved, the University retains the right to make prearranged on-site inspections of the remote work site during scheduled work hours.
- Supervisors must ensure that all sensitive and confidential information is protected and secured when accessing information from the remote location.
- Employees must ensure that all protective software and other firewall technology is installed, used and routinely updated on all equipment at the remote location.
- Employees must allow remote and/or physical inspection of information resources for compliance with mandated security protocols by the Information Security Office or Supervisor.
35.5.2 Regularly Assigned Place of Employment
Employees participating in remote work shall report to the regularly assigned place of employment as agreed upon with the supervisor and as indicated in the agreement. Additionally, when operational needs require, an employee must report to the regularly assigned place of employment upon the supervisor’s request. When practicable, employees will be provided reasonable advance notice under the circumstances presented.
35.6 Equipment and Supplies
- An employee will describe and present to the supervisor a request for office equipment, hardware, software, communication needs and office supplies needed to participate in remote work from a remote work site. The supervisor will review the request for approval for purchase reimbursement, or equipment loan. The University will not reimburse the employee for any costs not pre-approved by the supervisor. Purchases or reimbursement shall be provided in accordance with applicable University policies.
- All University equipment approved for purchase or loan will be inventoried and remain the property of the University.
- In general, employees who have office furniture at their regularly assigned place of employment will not be reimbursed or authorized to purchase furniture for their remote location.
- The University will not reimburse employees for out-of-pocket expenses for materials and supplies that are reasonably available at the regularly assigned place of employment.
- Only University approved software shall be used for connecting with the University's network from the remote work site. Employees who are participating in remote work shall run University prescribed anti-virus software at all times and follow all University information security rules, copyright laws and manufacturers' licensing agreements.
- University equipment located at the remote work site is subject to all policies and restrictions related to use of state owned property. Participating employees are responsible for any equipment and software that is used at the remote work site and accept financial responsibility for any equipment that is lost, stolen or damaged because of the employee's negligence, misuse or abuse.
35.7 Work Schedules/Communications
- Work Schedules. A remote work arrangement does not necessarily alter the employee’s work schedule. The specific work schedule of a participating employee shall be agreed upon by the supervisor and employee and described in the remote work agreement.
- Employee Availability
- Participating employees shall be available for communication and contact during remote work as they normally would be if working at their regularly assigned place of employment.
- Participating employees and their supervisors shall agree on how their communications shall be handled. During the agreed upon work schedule, it is expected that the participating employee shall be available for contact by phone and/or email, and may be asked to report to their regularly assigned place of employment on an arranged schedule.
35.8 Work Documentation, Timekeeping and Leave
- Work Documentation. Participating employees and supervisors should identify work items for review and discussion on an ongoing basis to ensure that tasks are fully described and timely completed.
- Participating non-exempt employees will be required to maintain accurate time accounting documentation to support their work hours and must submit regular weekly time reports detailing hours worked.
- Under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), non-exempt employees will be compensated in pay or compensatory time for overtime that has been approved by the supervisor in accordance with the provisions of the FLSA.
- State Compensatory Time. With Dean or Department Head approval, an employee may earn state compensatory time for work performed at home or other regular place of employment.
- Pursuant to established University policies, employees must obtain supervisory approval before taking accrued and available leave.
- Injuries at Remote Work Site. The University assumes no liability for injury at the remote work site to any other person who would not be in the work area if the duties were being performed at the regularly assigned place of employment. If an employee becomes injured in the course and scope of their employment while working remotely, he or she must notify his or her supervisor immediately and complete all requested documentation. The University will process claims for workers’ compensation in accordance with applicable policies for determination of coverage.
- Damages to Personal Property and Operating Costs. The University will not be liable for damages to employee-owned equipment being used in remote work or that may result from remote work. The University will not be responsible for operating costs, home maintenance, or any other incidental costs (e.g. utilities, telephone, insurance, connectivity) associated with the use of the employee's residence for remote work, unless specifically agreed upon in advance and in writing by the supervisor as outlined in the agreement.
35.10 Duration of Agreements
Remote Work Agreements will remain in effect unless terminated in accordance with the procedures set forth in this policy, as documented in respective agreements, or as otherwise determined by the University or supervisor. The continuance or duration of a Remote Work Agreement is solely at the discretion of the University and supervisor.
35.11 Termination of Agreement
Employees may request remote work be terminated with ten (10) University working days written notice. It is recommended that supervisors make a decision regarding the termination request within ten (10) University business days. The University reserves the right to terminate the agreement with ten (10) University business days notice if the University determines in its sole discretion that the remote work arrangement no longer is in the best interest of the University. The University also reserves the right to terminate the agreement without a notice period for any violations of University policy, a violation of the conditions of the agreement when there is a relevant change in University policy or law, or when it is otherwise determined that the remote work arrangement is no longer in the best interest of the University.
35.12 Return of University Property
When the agreement is terminated, the employee must promptly return all notes, data, reference materials, sketches, drawings, memoranda, reports, records, equipment, software, supplies, and any other University property in the employee's possession or control.
35.13 Damaged or Lost Property
The University shall not be held responsible for costs, damages, or losses associated with the termination of a Remote Work Agreement.
Texas Government Code, Section 658.010, Place Where Work Performed.