Human Resources Policies

VII-6.11(A)

UMB Policy on Telework

Human Resources   |   Approved May 28, 2021


Responsible VP/AVP

Dawn M. Rhodes, DBA


Applies to Staff


Revision History

Approved February 1, 2012. Revised and approved May 28, 2021 to become effective August 15, 2021.

The COVID-19 Status of Operation and Telework Policy will remain in effect until August 15, 2021.


Purpose

The purpose of this Telework Policy is to define requirements and guidelines under which Schools and Administrative Units may allow employees to Telework and may create flexible work environments. Consistent with the requirements and guidelines set forth in this Policy, supervisors may consider a variety of work arrangements that blend in-person work and Telework for an individual employee or groups of employees.

Policy Statement

I. POLICY STATEMENT

Telework is not an entitlement or University of Maryland, Baltimore (UMB) wide benefit.  As an institution of higher education, UMB is committed to having employees physically present to educate students, perform research, serve clients, treat patients, and engage with the UMB community. However, UMB recognizes that Telework can benefit UMB when the employee, the job, and the work unit are suited to such an arrangement.

To the extent practical, a supervisor is encouraged to consider Telework arrangements for Eligible Employees when, in the supervisor’s opinion, Telework will foster productivity, create utility or space cost savings, and allow for alternative methods of collaboration. An Eligible Employee’s Telework arrangement should not inequitably increase other employees’ workloads or impose unreasonable burdens on the supervisor.  Teleworkers should not be inequitably excluded from in work activities available at the physical worksite (e.g., meetings).

II. PURPOSE

The purpose of this Telework Policy is to define requirements and guidelines under which Schools and Administrative Units may allow employees to Telework and may create flexible work environments. Consistent with the requirements and guidelines set forth in this Policy, supervisors may consider a variety of work arrangements that blend in-person work and Telework for an individual employee or groups of employees.

III. APPLICABILITY

This Policy applies to all UMB Staff employees.

IV. DEFINITIONS

A. Eligible Employee: any full- or part-time staff employee whose job functions, as determined by the employee’s supervisor, can be performed effectively from a location other than a physical UMB worksite and whose productivity, in the supervisor’s opinion, can be measured and maintained or improved through Telework.

B. Episodic Telework Event: a nonrecurring situation ordinarily of no more than 2 pay periods in duration in which an employee may Telework due to extraordinary personal or work circumstances with the expectation that Telework will benefit the operations of the employee’s organization. Examples include: (1) An employee’s temporary medical condition precludes the employee from traveling to the workplace but does not hamper the employee’s ability to perform eligible work from an offsite location on a temporary basis. (2) An intense or demanding critical work assignment can best be performed from an offsite location where the distractions of a normal office environment are reduced. (3) A physical UMB worksite experiences a planned or unplanned, temporary closure (e.g., planned construction, or unplanned water main break) and employees are able to temporarily perform certain functions remotely until conditions causing the closure are resolved.

C. Intermittent Telework Arrangement: a frequent, but not predictable, Telework schedule where a supervisor permits an Eligible Employee to Telework as needed.

D. Remote Worksite: a work site other than the employee’s physical UMB worksite that has been approved by the employee’s supervisor for use for Telework. Most commonly, a Remote Worksite is an employee’s home.

E. Telework: work performed at a location, approved by UMB, other than a physical UMB worksite.

F. Teleworker: an Eligible Employee who is approved to Telework regularly pursuant to this Policy.

V. REQUIREMENTS AND GUIDELINES FOR APPROVAL OF TELEWORK

A. Schools or Administrative Units may wish to coordinate their employees’ Telework schedules to maximize space sharing or reduction in utility consumption by UMB. 

1. Deans and Vice Presidents (or designees) may consider and pursue unit-wide telework schedules pursuant to this section.

2. Telework schedules created pursuant to this section should be coordinated with relevant operational stakeholders (e.g., Security, Police, Human Resources, Operations and Maintenance).

B. The decision to permit an employee to Telework ordinarily rests with an employee’s supervisor. However, the decision to allow an Eligible Employee to Telework 3 or more days per week or to allow a Contingent Category I staff employee to telework additionally requires permission from the appropriate Dean or Vice President (or designee). 

C. Employees are not authorized to regularly Telework from a Remote Worksite that is located in a state other than Maryland except where the arrangement has been approved in accordance with UMB’s Out of State Work Policy. 

D. Telework should only be approved for job functions that are conducive to effective Telework, as determined by the supervisor, and for employees who, as determined by the supervisor, are productive during a period of Telework. 

1. Jobs that require interaction with the public, coworkers, and/or students may not be conducive to Telework or may only justify periodic Telework (e.g., one day every other week). 

2. The confidentiality or security protocols required of a position may impact whether the position is appropriate for Telework or the amount of Telework available (e.g., positions requiring access to documents or items that should not be removed from UMB or accessed in non-secure environments may not be appropriate for telework).

E. To be approved for Telework, an employee must have a performance rating of at least “meets standards,” and a track record of performing work accurately and efficiently without the need for close supervision.  Having a “meets standards” rating does not guarantee an employee the option of Telework as some jobs and some employees are more productive and effective when work is performed in person.

At the discretion of the supervisor, a new employee who does not have any performance rating may be considered for Telework prior to receiving a performance rating. 

F. To be approved for Telework, an Eligible Employee must have and agree to work from a suitable designated Remote Worksite and must have access to computer and telecommunications equipment necessary to effectively Telework, including reliable and secure internet service.

1. Employees are responsible for the cost of maintenance, repair and operation of their Remote Worksite, personal equipment, furniture, necessary utilities, and internet service.

2. Where required by an employee’s work duties, the designated Remote Worksite must allow for confidentiality.

3. Supervisors should take appropriate steps to verify and document the suitability of a Remote Worksite (e.g., via video conferencing or photographs).

G. Departments may elect to provide a Teleworker with access to UMB equipment such as computers, printers, and cables, and may elect to provide software or furniture necessary to the job. 

1. Equipment provided to a Teleworker remains the property of UMB and must be returned on termination of the employee’s Telework arrangement or employment. Software provided for a Teleworker must be removed from home equipment upon termination of the employee’s Telework arrangement.

2. The use of equipment, software, data, supplies, and furniture, if provided by UMB, is limited to use by the Teleworker and for purposes related to UMB business only.  

H. The Teleworker is responsible for the safekeeping of all items and software furnished by UMB. 

I. Where an employee requests to Telework one day per week, a supervisor may reject the request at the supervisor’s sole discretion, but if asked should articulate a valid reason for denying the request based on the nature of the job, the effectiveness of the employee, or any of the guidelines listed in this Policy. An employee’s request to Telework two or more days per week may be denied at the discretion of the supervisor without need to articulate a reason for denying the request.  

J. Telework arrangements may be revoked at the sole discretion of the supervisor or UMB. Telework arrangements may be revoked or changed by a supervisor, with or without cause, by providing an employee with a reasonable amount of notice (ordinarily two weeks). 

K. Because telework decisions are discretionary, the decision to grant, deny, or revoke teleworking arrangements may not be grieved.

VI. TELEWORK SCHEDULES

A. At the supervisor’s discretion, an employee may be permitted to work a Telework schedule that differs from the hours worked during the employee’s regular in-person workdays provided that the employee continues to fulfill the appropriate work effort (e.g., 1.0 FTE). 

1. An alternative or flexible work schedule may be appropriate, and should be considered, to allow an employee to attend to dependent care issues during certain hours so that the employee’s attention can be devoted entirely to Telework during Telework hours.

2. An alternative or flexible work schedule may not be approved for a non-exempt employee unless the employee acknowledges that shift-differentials are not available for Telework and that overtime must be approved by the employee’s supervisor in advance.

B. The telework schedule must be approved by the supervisor.

C. A Teleworker may be required to give up office space and utilize a hoteling office or shared office space as a condition of Telework. An employee’s Telework schedule should be created with these considerations taken into account and addressed in the Telework Agreement if feasible.

D. Telework days should be treated as regular work days. A Teleworker is expected to attend meetings virtually and to fully engage in work activities on scheduled Telework days.

E. For operational or safety reasons, UMB may direct certain groups of Teleworking employees to temporarily increase the number of Telework days per week or to engage in Episodic Telework.

F. At the discretion of the supervisor, an Eligible Employee may be permitted to work an Intermittent Telework Arrangement. A supervisor may impose conditions of advanced notification for the privilege of an Intermittent Telework Arrangement. A Teleworker working an Intermittent Telework Arrangement must meet all the underlying requirements and obligations of this Policy.

VII. DEPENDENT CARE, REQUIRED ATTENDANCE, AND LEAVE CONSIDERATIONS

A. Subject to confidentiality issues, employees are not prohibited from Teleworking while dependents are present, but Telework should not be considered a substitute for dependent care. If dependent care requirements would prevent an employee from devoting full attention to Telework, the employee is expected to make alternative dependent care arrangements or to propose an alternative Telework schedule agreeable to the employee’s supervisor.   

B. Attendance at an employee’s primary workplace for on-site meetings, conferences, training sessions and similar activities may be required on scheduled Telework days at the sole discretion of the supervisor. Where practical, a supervisor should give an employee two weeks’ notice of required on-site activities. Transportation and parking costs for such attendance are the employee's responsibility. 

C. Teleworking employees are required to obtain supervisory approval for the use of leave during Telework hours in the same manner as required for in-person work hours. Teleworking employees are expected to request and take leave and to use holiday hours when on vacation or when UMB is closed to observe a holiday on days that fall on the employee’s regular Telework schedule. 

D. In the event an employee’s physical UMB worksite is closed due to inclement weather or similar emergency conditions on a day the employee is approved to Telework, the employee is expected to continue to Telework or to take leave.

1. Supervisors may not unreasonably deny a Teleworker’s request to take leave during an emergency closure if the emergency condition also means the employee has unexpected dependent care obligations (e.g., where local schools are closed due to weather conditions).

2. Pursuant to VI(E) above, certain emergency conditions may trigger Episodic Telework.

VIII. TELEWORK AGREEMENT

A. Once a supervisor has agreed that an employee and the employee’s job function are suitable for Telework, the supervisor and employee are required to complete a Telework Agreement and to submit the Agreement to the Department Head (or designee) for approval.

1. Human Resources will provide a standardized Telework Agreement covering the requirements of this Policy.

2. Specific procedures for documenting Telework arrangements of employees covered by a collective bargaining agreement may be found in the appropriate Memorandum of Understanding and for convenience will be posted on HRS website or included in the standardized Telework Agreement.

3. Supervisors may seek assistance from Employee/Labor Relations in Human Resources to develop appropriate Telework Agreements.

B. Supervisors should periodically review each employee’s Telework Agreement and schedule to make sure any changes are appropriately documented. This review should occur and be documented at least once per year.

IX. LIABILITIES FOR INJURIES

A. A teleworker working at an approved Remote Worksite is covered under the State's Workers' Compensation Law for injuries occurring in the course of the actual performance of official duties at the employee’s Remote Worksite.

B. The Teleworker or someone acting on the Teleworker’s behalf is required to immediately notify the Teleworker’s supervisor of any accident or injury that occurs at the employee’s Remote Worksite.

C. UMB will follow University policies regarding the reporting of injuries for employees injured while at work.

D. UMB is not liable for damages to the Teleworker’s personal or real property while the Teleworker is working at the Remote Worksite, except to the extent required under Maryland law.

X. TELEWORKER RESPONSIBILITIES

A. Teleworkers are expected to adhere to all requirements set forth in this Policy and the scheduling expectations set forth in the employee’s executed Telework Agreement.

B. Teleworkers are subject to the same conditions of employment, policies, and performance expectations that apply to employees who do not Telework.

C. UMB secure connections must be used for remote access to systems that contain confidential data or sensitive information. Such data can only be used and stored on secure systems and devices.    

D. Teleworkers should consult the UMB Information Technology Policies for information on UMB IT Remote Access, UMB IT Acceptable Use, UMB IT Anti-Virus, and UMB IT Security Standards.

E. A Teleworker who is issued UMB equipment or software is required to comply with all rules applicable to the use and maintenance of UMB property and may be required to sign an additional acknowledgement related to this responsibility.

F. Any changes to the terms of an employee’s Telework Agreement (including a relocation to a different Remote Worksite), must be disclosed to and approved by the employee’s supervisor.

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