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Flexible Work Options Consultation

Employee & Labor Relations consults with school and VP area Human Resources managers, managers, and employees who are seeking guidance related to flexible work options.

General Considerations

  • Flexible Work Options are implemented at the discretion of management, taking into consideration the needs of the department and co-workers, health and safety consequences, equity, benefits issues, performance management and productivity. Managers and administrators need to be particularly sensitive to the audit process, legal liability issues and funding source restrictions.
  • When evaluating flexible work options, both the manager and the employee should consult with Stanford Benefits to examine any potential benefits consequences, e.g., cost of benefits if FTE is below 75 percent and potential impact on leave accrual.
  • Implementation should come after careful review with the employee of the specific option, expectations of performance, and the logistics of transition.
  • The employee, supervisor or manager and the local human resources office should sign documents reflecting the arrangement and any change.
  • The local Human Resources office may consult with Employee & Labor Relations before considering flexible work options to ensure that:
    • The agreement is recorded as required by State law.
    • The union agrees that the option is in accordance with any applicable provisions in a collective bargaining agreement.
  • A pilot period is strongly recommended with regularly scheduled reviews with the affected staff.
  • The arrangement should be carefully monitored at regular intervals to ensure conformance with operational needs.
  • Written documents should reflect both the university’s and the employee’s ability to terminate the arrangement and the relevant guidelines.

Types of Flexible Work Options

Flextime: A generic term referring to flexible work schedules that permit variable starting and quitting times within limits set by management. Typically, flexible periods are at either end of the work day with a designated "core-time" set in the middle, during which all employees must be present in the workplace.

Alternative Work Schedule: Refers to a standard workweek (40 hours) that is condensed into fewer than five full days. A common alternative workweek schedule is four 10-hour days. See Administrative Guide Memo 2.1.5 Compensation of Staff Employees, for details. Note: Alternative Work Schedules for non-exempt (hourly) employees are governed by California State law. There are specific requirements that must be followed before an alternative work week may be implemented for non-exempt employees. Please consult with human resources prior to proceeding with non-exempt alternative work schedules.

Flexplace: Also called telecommuting or working from home, is a mutual agreement between a supervisor and a staff member that some part(s) of the staff member's work is done at home, or at another location different from the employee's usual workplace. See Administrative Guide Memo 2.1.21: Staff Telecommuting for requirements.

The university recognizes the importance to help an employee achieve a balance between work and the employee's personal life. However, under no circumstances should the flexplace work arrangement be used as a substitute for dependent care or for other non-business reasons. If the flex arrangement is approved, it is the employee's responsibility to make the proper arrangements for dependent care and for other personal obligations and to not let this interfere in performing the required work.

Typically, the staff member will continue to work on-site the majority of work hours. Flexplace can include "occasional flexplace" in which the employee works at a different location when a specific task requires uninterrupted time and privacy. Issues of appropriate supervision, the nature of the work, and compliance with all legal requirements must be carefully considered before such an arrangement is approved and the arrangement must be carefully monitored on an ongoing basis.

The employee is responsible to inspect the designated workspace before work from home begins, and on a periodically-scheduled basis thereafter (yearly minimum recommended), and whenever work area changes introduce new potential workplace hazards. The department is to retain all documentation (for one year minimum) regarding inspections, including findings and corrective actions.

Structuring a Flexible Work Option

When setting up a flexible work option, it is important to ensure that all parties understand all aspects of the changes. Prior to finalizing any flexible work option, these items should also be reviewed with the appropriate human resources representative or employee and labor relations manager.

Pay Considerations: 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.

The Work to Be Performed: Prior to implementing a flexible work option, it is important to have discussion regarding the specific tasks and duties that will be performed. In some cases, the work being performed may not lend itself to being done remotely. In other cases, it may work well to have the work done remotely. 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 customer service
  • Whether the job includes supervising the work of others
  • How the employee will be available to respond to work questions (e.g., work a set schedule; be accessible by phone, e-mail, instant chat)

Employee's Current Performance: When evaluating a flexible work option, it is important to take into consideration an employee’s performance level. Generally, flexible work options are a consideration when the performance is at an acceptable level or above, and the employee has completed their trial period. Flexible work options are typically not a consideration when performance counseling or corrective action is in effect.

Supervision: Supervisors are responsible for ensuring that they continue to supervise an employee in a flexible work option. 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 trace and 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.)
  • 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 flexible work option 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 arrangement, and then together, and if agreed, then a document outlining the parameters is typically drafted. Some of the key items to ensure are included include:

  • The duration of the request (one time, brief, or ongoing)
  • Whether funding sources restrict where the work is performed
  • Clarity that the arrangement is not an entitlement, and that management may revoke the arrangement in its sole discretion at any time.
  • Clarity as to reporting processes for any for work-related injuries or illnesses
  • Compliance with any rest and meal break requirements
  • For non-exempt employees, clarity as to overtime considerations (whether overtime is or is not permitted and how it is monitored and approved)
  • Clarity as to who will provide the equipment required to do the job, and how the equipment will be returned to the University when the off-site assignment ends
  • Clarity as to responsibility for the payment of associated expenses (e.g., installing computers, phone lines, recurring expenses, repair)
  • Clarity as to responsibility for compliance with ergonomic requirements

Requests and Approvals

  • Requests for flexplace/work off-site/telecommuting must be made in writing by the supervisor/manager to the local Human Resources Office (attaching a copy of the employee's request, if any), together with the business case for granting the request (e.g., description of operational need).
  • View the requirements in Administrative Guide Memo 2.1.21: Staff Telecommuting for documentation, including specific work arrangements and applicable work rules.
  • All employment out-of-state or out-of-country must comply with Administrative Guide Memo 2.2.12 Out-of-State Employees.