The Evergreen State College is committed to supporting employees to telework when approved by the appointing authority, reporting dean or their designee. The college’s telework program is discretionary (i.e., does not create an employee right) and voluntary for employees.
This policy applies to:
This policy applies to classified and exempt staff, temporary hourly employees, and student employees.
This policy does not apply to employees traveling for college business purposes or to employees whose job description requires work from off-campus sites.
What is Telework?
Telework refers to an arrangement where an employee performs their duties and other authorized activities from home or a designated non-college location away from the usual workplace. Depending on the details of the telework arrangement, telework constitutes either a portion of the employee’s work schedule or all of it. Typically, regular office hours are worked and deviations from that schedule require supervisor approval.
Telework generally should not be used to provide active care for a child, elder or other dependent. However, during suspended operations, modified operations, or as communicated by senior leadership, working at home while providing dependent care may be approved, provided norms and expectations are outlined in an employee’s telework agreement for regular telework, or in an email for occasional telework.
Statement of purpose
The Evergreen State College recognizes that telework is a work option that may meet a variety of interests including, but not limited to, enhancing employee productivity, satisfaction and work/life balance, addressing space restrictions, reducing our impact on the environment and supporting the commute trip reduction program, and promoting continuity of operations during worksite disruptions, including suspended or modified operations, such as during a public health emergency.
The college encourages and allows the use of telework arrangements within the bounds of good public practice, business operations, applicable collective bargaining agreement, and resource limitations.
Approval to telework is granted at the discretion of the appointing authority/reporting dean, or their designee. The determination of whether an employee is eligible to participate and is approved for telework will be made in accordance with this policy and the work unit’s business and operational needs. Information on remote out-of-state work arrangements can be found in the Out-of-State Work Policy.
Position telework eligibility
A position’s suitability for telework is based on operational needs and the duties and responsibilities of the position as defined in the position description. It is the responsibility of the appointing authority/reporting dean, or their designee, to designate positions as telework eligible or telework ineligible and inform Human Resource Services for staff positons.
Positions which may be designated telework eligible are those where all or a significant portion of the duties of a position can be accomplished through telework. In general, a position is suited to teleworking if the job or some components of it can be done off-site without disruption to the flow of work, the work team, and communication. Examples include positions that require working with data, writing, and research.
Positions that may be ineligible for telework are positions that require in-person contact or customer services, a physical presence on campus, or that rely upon specific equipment or supplies on the work site. Management and/or supervisory positions generally will be excluded from consideration of telework arrangements unless the appointing authority/reporting dean, or their designee, finds such an arrangement practical in meeting job responsibilities. In addition, some jobs that may seem ineligible, may be reasonably modified so that employees can telework.
Types of Telework
There are three types of telework arrangements for employees in telework eligible positions:
- Occasional telework:
Occasional telework arrangements, must be approved by the supervisor on a case-by-case basis, and are incidental, infrequent, and not regularly scheduled. Occasional telework may allow employees to attend to sporadic household appointment needs, continue to perform work during workplace disruptions, including suspended operations and inclement weather, or provide uninterrupted time for project work. Occasional telework does not require a telework agreement; however, approval from the supervisor must be documented, which may be done by email. Occasional telework is not appropriate as a substitute for sick time off and should not be used when the employee’s own, family member’s, or household member’s illness or injury interferes with the employee’s ability to perform their work.
- Regular telework:
Regular telework arrangements, which must be approved by the appointing authority/reporting dean, or their designee, are for ongoing and regularly scheduled telework, and must be supported by a telework agreement that specifies the requirements and details of the arrangement. The arrangement can be on a part-time or full-time basis, and last for a defined period or can continue indefinitely with regular review. If the regular telework arrangement is on a full-time basis, the employee’s residence or designated non-college location is their “official duty station”, and the college may not maintain an assigned office or workspace for the employee on the Olympia campus or at the Tacoma Program. The appointing authority/reporting dean, or their designee, is responsible for ensuring that each employee has an accurate work location in the payroll system. The appointing authority/reporting dean, or their designee, is responsible for considering proposals objectively, fairly, and equitably, but are not obligated to approve.
- Out-of-State Worker telework:
As a state government employer, the college is committed to supporting and contributing to the economy of the local community and the State of Washington. The college also understands that for unique and rare circumstances, employees may have a work location outside of Washington. Please refer to the Out-of-State Worker policy.
Appointing authorities/reporting deans or their designee have the discretion to decide whether an employee in a telework eligible position is an acceptable candidate for telework. When evaluating a telework request, the appointing authority/reporting dean, or their designee, should take into account specific position requirements; whether the telework arrangement benefits the college; interactions required between the teleworking employee, other employees, students, and customers; impact on the team, students and customers; employee performance and/or attendance concerns; and demonstrated skills of the employee to effectively perform the job duties of the position while teleworking. Additionally, appointing authorities/reporting deans, or their designee, must also ensure that the proposed teleworking arrangement follows applicable regulations, policies, and collective bargaining agreement.
The teleworking employee is expected to be accessible during regularly scheduled work hours and remain flexible to respond to business requirements, which may including working on campus. Requirements for in-person attendance (e.g., hands-on or in-person training) will override regular telework work schedules. Supervisors should discuss such instances with the employee. Expectations for timely completion of work to established standards, attendance at meetings, responsiveness to students and customers, and other performance criteria are the same for teleworking and non-teleworking employees. Supervisors should apply the same performance standards to employees regardless of work location.
A teleworking employee’s conditions of employment and worker protections are the same as those of non-teleworking employees, including compliance with applicable collective bargaining agreements and all policies and rules of the college and state while teleworking.
Employee readiness for telework
Establishing position based telework eligibility and criteria for employee readiness for telework helps maximize equity by giving employees in telework eligible positions the same access to telework based on whether their specific job requirements are compatible with telework.
Some employees may be better prepared than others to manage the unique requirements of teleworking. When evaluating a telework request, appointing authorities/reporting deans, or their designee, should consider whether the employee has a record of satisfactory performance in the workplace and has demonstrated the ability to:
- Prioritize work to meet deadlines
- Accomplish job duties with minimal supervision
- Understand their role and expectations
- Be organized, highly disciplined and self-motivated
- Communicate effectively with students, customers, stakeholders, team members, and their supervisor
- Manage time effectively
- Use required technology tools effectively, and adapt quickly to changes in technology.
While some jobs that may not seem appropriate for telework or some employees may not seem prepared to telework, appointing authorities/reporting deans, or their designee, may approve telework arrangements on a trial basis. Telework arrangements that are done on a trial basis must be supported by a telework agreement that specifies the requirements and details of the arrangement.
Intersection with designation of staff employees who perform essential services
Teleworking employees are able to accomplish their job responsibilities despite inclement weather, suspended operations, or other emergency situations or closure that impact on-site operations. Depending on the position duties, positions eligible for telework are also either required or not required personnel (i.e., essential or non-essential).
Compensation and time off practices for employees who telework are the same during suspended operations as during regular work periods.
Required personnel (i.e., essential employees) and employees who may have occasional telework should be familiar with technology and other requirements of telework, should the need arise.
Telework as a disability accommodation
Employee requests to telework as a disability accommodation or a pregnancy accommodation are handled through the reasonable accommodation process. Employees should discuss concerns about accommodation-related telework requests with Human Resource Services.
Team readiness for telework
Before approving a telework request, the appointing authority/reporting dean, or their designee, should consider any changes needed to ensure their work unit and team continues to meet its objectives. It is important that appointing authorities/reporting deans, or their designee, establish fair and equitable processes to determine whether an employee is successful teleworking. In addition, the appointing authority/reporting dean, or their designee, needs to ensure that the employee and work product will be as effectively managed as the employee’s on-site colleagues.
Document the telework arrangement
A telework agreement is typically created by the supervisor in collaboration with the employee and is a written plan outlining the understanding of, and commitment to, teleworking as mutually agreed upon by the employee and their supervisor. A telework agreement is required for regular telework arrangements and may be used for occasional telework arrangements
Clearly documented and executed arrangements can prove benefits to employees and supervisors alike. Telework arrangements work best when supervisors and employees communicate clearly about expectations. For example, supervisors should articulate clear procedures regarding check-in times and hours of availability. With proper planning and documentation, communication problems can be minimized.
At a minimum, a telework agreement should follow the general provisions of the Telework Plan and Agreement and at a minimum define:
- A work schedule that specifies telework days and hours of work.
- Telework location and request process for approval prior to moving telework location out of Washington State.
- Required methods of communication specific to telework (e.g., Zoom, Teams, phone, email).
- The duration of the telework arrangement.
- Responsibility for telework equipment.
- Circumstances requiring on-site attendance.
- While employees should not use telework as a substitute for care of family or household members, when the college, or portions of the college, is in modified or suspended operations, a telework agreement should outline work expectations for working with family members at home, if applicable.
- Employee agreement to maintain an ergonomically suitable and safe work environment.
- Relevant attestations regarding key policy considerations.
Employees and managers must sign the telework agreement and, once approved by the appointing authority/reporting dean, or their designee, comply with the requirements of the telework agreement. Telework agreements are meant to be responsive to the changing needs of the workplace, and should be reviewed and updated both as needs change and, at a minimum, annually. The telework agreement may be terminated by the college at any time with reasonable advanced notice, unless it is for alleged misconduct or an emergency, in which case, it may be terminated immediately.
Reviewing telework requests
Appointing authorities/reporting deans, or their designee, will approve or deny the telework request after evaluating the written telework agreement, considering telework suitability criteria, and maintaining consistency and equity of decisions across their work unit. If there is uncertainty about the potential effectiveness of a proposed telework arrangement, the appointing authority/reporting dean, or their designee, may consider allowing the employee to telework on a trial basis as documented by a telework agreement. A trial review period should be established, after which a decision may be made about regular telework.
There may be circumstances in which a request for telework cannot be approved. In order to demonstrate consistency and equity within the work unit, it is important the denial is explained to the employee and is based upon policy, impact on work unit operations, and/or the employee’s past performance.
The employee must establish an ergonomically suitable and safe work environment consistent with the guidelines outlined in the telework agreement. Teleworkers are expected to ensure that the expectations for information and data security are met and that college property is secured (i.e., taking reasonable steps to protect college equipment from theft, damage or misuse) and used for college business only. The employee must comply with the licensing agreements for use of software owned by the college.
Ensuring equipment decisions demonstrate consistency and equity within a work unit is essential for the success of telework arrangements. The employee and appointing authority/reporting dean, or their designee, shall work together to determine whether the work unit will issue an employee the equipment necessary to perform the job, or if an employee already has the required equipment, the work unit may agree that the employee will use their own equipment. Telework arrangements will not typically result in the duplication of office equipment. Generally, the college will be responsible for the service and maintenance of college-owned equipment and an employee will be responsible for the service and maintenance of their own equipment. Work units must maintain an inventory log of college-owned equipment used for telework and ensure that all college-owned equipment is returned at the end of the teleworking arrangement.
The college assumes no responsibility for the teleworker’s expenses related to internet service, heating, electricity, water, security, insurance, and usage of personal residence. In addition, the college assumes no responsibility for any damage to, wear of, or loss of employee’s personal property. The employee remains liable for injuries to third parties and/or family members on the employee’s premises/residence.
Work schedules and timekeeping
Employees and supervisors are required to comply with all timekeeping procedures, overtime regulations defined by state or federal law (e.g., the Fair Labor Standards Act), applicable collective bargaining agreements, civil service rules, and/or college policy. Overtime eligible employees must receive approval from their supervisor to work overtime. Supervisors must ensure accurate recording of the employee’s hours worked.
Terms of employment
A telework agreement or assignment does not provide any contractual rights to continued employment. It does not alter or supersede the terms of the existing employment relationship. The employee remains obligated to comply with all College rules, policies, practices, and instructions that would apply if the employee were working at the regular College worksite.
Related policy considerations
Teleworking employees must adhere to all work unit and college policies including, but not limited to policies regarding confidentiality of information, non-discrimination, sexual harassment and misconduct, work schedules, work hours, appropriate use of equipment, ethics, alcohol and drug-free workplace, records retention, performance, leave use and tracking of work hours. All time off and leave provisions under policy, or the applicable collective bargaining agreement for represented employees, continue to apply under a telework agreement.
Key policies include, but are not limited to:
- College property and data security – Teleworking employees must protect the security, confidentiality, and integrity of data, information, paper files, and access to computer systems. All college policies on information technology, internet access, and technology use apply to teleworking, as they would at a college work site.
- Personal use of college equipment – Reasonable steps must be taken to ensure that college property is used in compliance with the Washington State Ethics Act.
- Intellectual property – Works products developed or produced by the employee while teleworking remain the property of The Evergreen State College.
- Records maintenance and disclosure – The work employees do while teleworking remains subject to the college’s and the WA Secretary of State records retention schedule and applicable regulations including the Washington State Public Records Act RCW 42.56.
- Workers’ compensation – Work-related injuries at the remote worksite, during agreed-upon working hours, are covered by Workers’ Compensation. Employees are required to report any work-related illness or injury to their supervisor immediately. Employees are required to fill out an accident report as an internal record of the incident within 24 hours of the event.
- General travel policies - OFM SAAM escribes travel reimbursement between the employee’s work location (“official duty station”) and a temporary duty station.
Appointing Authority/Reporting Dean – Positions delegated with authority to hire, transfer, reassign, designate review periods, payroll deductions, grievances, and discipline up to and including reduction in pay, demotion and suspension.
Supervisor - An employee who is assigned responsibility by their Appointing Authority/Reporting Dean to participate in selecting staff, training and development, planning and assigning work, evaluating performance, taking corrective action, and imposing verbal and written reprimand disciplinary actions.
- Classified Employees Collective Bargaining Agreement
- Law Enforcement Employees Collective Bargaining Agreement
- Out-of-State Worker Policy
- Reasonable Accommodation in Employment Policy
- Student Support Services Staff Unit Collective Bargaining Agreement
- Suspended Operations and Closure: Authority, Protocol, Leave Reporting and Pay