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Office of the Chancellor

Hybrid Work Arrangements Frequently Asked Questions

Eligibility
Telecommute Arrangements
Expense Eligibility and Reimbursement
Represented Staff
While Working Remotely

Eligibility

What is a Hybrid Work Arrangement?
Hybrid work options offer creative approaches for completing work while promoting balance between work and personal flexibility. These arrangements involve non-traditional work hours and work location. At UC Merced, all remote work and telecommute arrangements, along with alternate or flexible schedules, are referred to Hybrid Work Arrangements – agreements between an employee and their supervisor documented in a Telecommute Agreement or Alternate Work Schedule.

What is the distinction between Telecommute Agreement and Alternate Work Arrangements?
A Telecommute Agreement is a work arrangement in which an employee regularly performs work at an alternative or an off-campus site for a specified portion of the work week (also to be used if the employee is 100% remote). The Telecommute Agreement establishes the terms of the work arrangement.

Alternate Work Schedule is an umbrella term that refers to compressed work schedules, e.g., 4/10, and flexible work schedules. It refers to the scheduled hours of the workday/workweek during which an employee is scheduled to work.

Who has the authority to approve Hybrid Work Arrangements?

Hybrid Work Arrangements are at the discretion of the employee’s direct supervisor/manager. Supervisors/managers have the authority to approve Hybrid Work Arrangements after  consulting with their Department Head. Department Heads are responsible for keeping their division lead apprised of Hybrid Work Arrangements within their division/school/unit.

Are all staff eligible for a Hybrid Work Arrangement?
Hybrid Work Arrangements are available to permanent career, contract and limited staff employees. New hires are eligible prior to the expiration of their probationary period if approved by the hiring manager. Internal transfers are eligible if approved by the hiring manager. Both represented and non-represented/policy-covered staff are eligible, although the effects of Hybrid Work Arrangements for represented employees may be subject to union bargaining.

What positions are eligible for a Hybrid Work Arrangement?
Decisions on which positions are eligible for remote work are based on operational and business needs and must be made without bias or favoritism to ensure an equitable process. Department/unit leadership should first consider the unit’s mission, objectives, services and service hours, then consider each staff member’s job duties to determine if that position can be done effectively with a Hybrid Work Arrangement.  Not all positions and staff are suitable for alternate work schedules or remote (partially or fully) work.

Can a Telecommute Agreement for the same position in the same unit (or different units) be handled differently? Can one be approved and the other denied?
Yes. Since every job, staff member and situation are different, it cannot be assumed that the same decision is appropriate for similar positions. Supervisors know the operations of their department/unit(s) best and are responsible for final decisions on how to get the work accomplished. Supervisors, in consultation with their Department Head, have the authority to say “yes” or “no” to a telecommute arrangement, or to postpone consideration of a remote work arrangement to another time.

To ensure consistency when evaluating requests – and when re-evaluating work plans later this year – the following questions should be asked:

  • What is needed: equipment, timeframe, modes of communication, access to data, setting, etc.?
  • What are the key results expected from this position?
  • What are the concerns regarding the staff member’s proposed arrangement?
  • Why are all the relevant elements (equipment, timeframe, communication, location, etc.) needed?
  • Why are the position’s tasks accomplished in the current manner? Are there other ways to effectively accomplish the tasks?

How should a supervisor handle a situation where it may be appropriate to approve one  Telecommute Agreement and deny another?
All decisions should be focused on organizational needs and objective criteria related to the position and job demands. A consistent approach to analyzing the situation should be applied. It is important for managers/supervisors to communicate to each staff member the decision and its rationale. 

Under what criteria can a Hybrid Work Arrangement request be denied?
The denial of a request should be based on a sound business rationale such as operational need/changes, staffing need/changes, or documented performance issues.

 What if someone disagrees about their position’s eligibility for or denial of remote work?
If a request is denied, or an employee does not agree with the terms of their Hybrid Work Arrangement, managers should attempt to resolve the matter informally with the employee. If needed, managers should consult with their supervisor or division leader in addition to Human Resources. If an informal resolution cannot be reached, managers should inform the employee in writing that the employee may be able to file a complaint in accordance with the employee’s applicable complaint process. Policy covered employees may be eligible to file a complaint pursuant to Personnel Policy for Staff Members 70 (Complaint Resolution) if the complaint alleges that a management action adversely affected the employees existing terms and conditions of employment in a material way. Represented employees may be eligible to file a grievance pursuant to the applicable collective bargaining agreement (CBA). Subject to additional guidance from UCOP. 

Are staff in non-exempt positions eligible for remote work arrangements?
Yes, remote work opportunities will be available for non-exempt employees subject to operational and business needs. Supervisors must ensure that appropriate breaks are taken, that all hours worked are reflected as time worked and that overtime has advance approval by the supervisor. 

Are represented staff eligible for remote work arrangements?
Yes, the collective bargaining agreements have language giving the management the right to determine the location of work. As such, considerations for work location eligibility or decisions will be the same for represented and non-represented staff.

Telecommute Arrangements

Can staff work remotely outside of California?
Yes, if the staff member’s position has been approved by unit leadership for fully remote status, working outside of California is allowed, as long as it is in the United States. However, there are several considerations the employee and manager must review before proceeding. Some of these considerations are change of address, health and welfare benefits, payroll and tax, compensation, and workers’ compensation benefits. Allowing 100% remote work outside of CA should be used sparingly.  

Can staff work remotely outside the United States?
No, UC Merced staff are not permitted to work remotely in other countries due to tax and labor law implications of having employees permanently residing and working in foreign jurisdictions. Consult Employee and Labor Relations if you believe there are exceptional circumstances that merit consideration.

Can a supervisor can change or terminate a Telecommute Agreement? Can a staff member?
Yes, Telecommute Agreements are subject to ongoing review by supervisors and staff and may be modified or terminated with reasonable notice in accordance with the terms of the agreement. A supervisor can modify or terminate the agreement for a number or reasons, including operational changes, staffing changes and documented performance. Similarly, the operational needs of the unit might require a request for a change or termination of agreement to be postponed or denied. For example, this might be the case when an individual is requesting a schedule change that would have an impact on several other individuals or the unit’s ability to deliver its service as required. 

Must a Telecommute Agreement be signed prior to beginning a Telecommute Arrangement?
Yes, a Telecommute Agreement must be completed before a staff member begins a Telecommute Arrangement.

What happens if a staff member with a Telecommute Arrangement transfers to another unit or department?
The staff member and the staff member's new supervisor should discuss the situation and determine if the staff member's current remote work arrangement is appropriate for the new position and department. The staff member will need to complete a new Telecommute Agreement.

How do we handle employee requests for disability accommodations for employees who are working remotely?
Requests for disability accommodation should be handled in accordance with Personnel Policies for Staff (Reasonable Accommodation) or the applicable CBA. This includes situations where an employee with a disability requests a hybrid work arrangement as a reasonable accommodation. It also includes situations where a remote employee with a disability or a hybrid remote employee with a disability may need a reasonable accommodation to perform the essential functions of their position. Staff requesting reasonable accommodations should contact their supervisor and/or HR. Disability Management Services is available for assistance and/or consultation.

Expense Eligibility and Reimbursement

Are a remote staff’s personal internet data plan, home wi-fi and/or personal cell phone reimbursed?
Generally, no. Expenses related to work needs, such as internet connectivity or phone usage, are governed by Business and Finance Bulletin G:-46 Guidelines for the Purchase of Cell Phones and Other Electronic Devices. If any item needs to be installed, charges related to the installation are the responsibility of the employee. The university will evaluate on a case-by-case basis where reimbursement is necessary for staff with specific needs not already met with existing resources.

Are staff who work remotely eligible to be reimbursed for travel costs associated with business meetings not at UC Merced, professional conferences, or other university-related business purposes?
Yes. Staff that travel from their home to a non-UC Merced location for business purposes, may be reimbursed in accordance with Business and Finance Bulletin G-28, Travel Regulations. In certain circumstances, an estimate of normal commuter costs from their home to their unit’s UC Merced location may be deducted from their total travel costs.

What is reimbursed for office supplies for staff remote work location?
Staff should work with their departments for regular office supply needs. Such supplies may be shipped to remote staff if needed. As with equipment, all leftover supplies and materials shall be returned to the unit upon the end of employment or transfer.

What is reimbursed for printing costs for staff remote work location?
Staff should work with their departments to determine the true need for printing supplies. As we adopt greener practices and workflows that are primarily electronic, the use of printers and printer supplies should be minimized.

Represented Staff

Will supervisors be able to determine the work schedule for each represented staff member on an individual basis, based on the needs of their respective department/unit?
Yes, the collective bargaining agreements (CBAs) give the university the right to schedule to meet operational needs. Depending on the schedule and the terms of the collective bargaining agreement, management might be required to provide notice to the union prior to changing a schedule. Consult Employee and Labor Relations at laborrelations@ucmerced.edu for assistance or if you have questions about the ability to change a work schedule.

Will any kind of vote by represented staff in the same classification be required when adjusting work locations?
No vote is required when adjusting work location.

For represented staff, will each Telecommute Agreement need to go to the Union for review, or will there be a blanket approval provided?
The unions do not need to be consulted nor provide approval regarding individual Telecommute Agreements with staff.  It is a management right to determine which classifications will work remotely. 

While Working Remotely

What if a staff member hurts themselves while working remotely? How do we handle workers’ compensation claims for remote workers?
As with all work-related injuries, a staff member who experiences an injury while working remotely must report it promptly to their supervisor, who will then report the injury to Human Resource’s Benefits Unit by the usual reporting process.  Such reports of injury should be handled in the same manner as if the injury occurred on campus.  For staff working outside of California, while Workers’ Compensation laws vary by state, these injuries should still be reported by the same process mentioned above.

What should a staff member do if they have internet connection issues while working?
If a staff member experiences internet, phone, or power outages, they should get in touch with their supervisor as soon as possible. The supervisor will work with the staff employee to determine what work can still be performed during the outage and if any makeup time will be required. If problems persist, the supervisor will revisit the Telecommute Agreement to determine if the staff member’s offsite location is suitable for continued remote work.

What if a staff member is ill when they are to be remote working?
If illness or other issues prevent a staff member from working whether on site or remotely, they will be expected to take appropriate leave and follow the normal process for reporting off work.

Will staff be allowed to work remotely while traveling on vacation?
Generally, no.  Vacation is an opportunity for individuals to rest and recharge. If an individual is working, then they are not on vacation. However, staff members may request from their supervisor to work remotely at an alternate location, within the United States. The supervisor may consider the request and set expectations for hours to be worked and work outcomes to be achieved. The supervisor should always know where their staff members are located.

How will staff members’ performance be evaluated while remote working?
Supervisors will evaluate staff members’ performance in the same manner as they would if they were onsite. Supervisors should focus on communicating clear expectations, setting goals, and reviewing outcomes.

How often do staff working 100% remotely have to return to campus?
The decision to require staff who are working 100% remotely, whether in California or outside of California, rests with the unit management.  The frequency of visits to campus should be documented in a Telecommute Agreement.

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