Telecommuting Policy and Procedure
PAVIR considers telecommuting to be a viable alternative work arrangement in cases where individual, job and supervisor characteristics are best suited to such an arrangement. The Staff Telecommuting Program allows an employee to work from his or her home of record for all or part of their regular workweek.
Informal or Limited Duration Telecommuting Arrangements
Telecommuting can be informal and of limited duration, such as working from home for a short-term project, an unexpected life event, during approved business travel, or formal, as will be described in the remainder of this document. Informal, short-term telecommuting arrangements may be made “as needed” for employees on family or medical leave, or as a potential accommodation due to health conditions as required by law, to the extent practical for the employee and the institution, and with the certification and consent of the employee's health care provider, as appropriate. All informal telecommuting arrangements are made on a case by case basis, focusing on the needs of the institution first. Such informal arrangements are not the focus of this policy but are available with management consultation and specific written approval that stipulates the details of the limited duration informal telecommuting agreement.
Formal Telecommuting Arrangements
PAVIR defines formal telecommuting as allowing employees to work outside their normal physical place of work (primary office/laboratory/clinic/department location) on an agreed upon predefined predictable work schedule. By its nature, work performed away from the main office setting must lend itself to effective performance away from the main office/laboratory/clinic/department. Telecommuting is a voluntary work alternative that may be appropriate for some employees and some jobs but not all employees or all jobs. It is not an entitlement; it is not an institution-wide benefit; and it does not alter any other policies that speak to terms and conditions of employment with PAVIR.
- Either an employee or a supervisor can request telecommuting as a possible work arrangement via the Telecommuting Request form. Telecommuting is limited to the employee’s home of record. A telecommuting agreement may include a work arrangement that represents a combination of time physically present at the PAVIR physical office and time at an employee’s home office. All telecommuting requests must be approved by the employee’s PI and supervisor.
In most cases, individuals requesting formal telecommuting arrangements must be employed with PAVIR for a minimum of 12 months of continuous, regular employment and must have exhibited above average performance, in accordance with PAVIR's performance appraisal process. Exceptions to tenure and performance review requirements must be justified in writing and approved by the PAVIR Director of Human Resources or CEO.
Employees in positions classified as non-exempt are eligible for telecommuting if their basic job description is compatible with telecommuting, and their supervisor and PI approve such an arrangement. Telecommuting for non-exempt employees will be reviewed on a case by case basis by PAVIR Human Resources (HR). Telecommuting non-exempt employees will be required to contemporaneously and accurately record all hours worked in a manner designated by PAVIR which includes logging work shift start and end times and paid and unpaid meal break start and end times. Employees are not exempt from PAVIR’s meal period, rest period, or record-keeping policies solely because they are permitted to telecommute. Telecommuting employees will be held to a high standard of compliance due to the nature of the work arrangement. PAVIR expects employees to accurately track and submit timecards for all hours worked. Hours worked in excess of those specified per day and per work week, in accordance with state and federal requirements will require the advance approval of the supervisor. Failure to comply with this requirement can result in the immediate cessation of the telecommuting agreement.
- The Telecommuting Request must be signed by the employee’s supervisor and PI and submitted to the Director of HR to review. The final decision to approve/deny the telecommuting request will rest with the PAVIR CEO or delegate, who will evaluate the suitability of such an arrangement paying particular attention but not limited to the following areas:
- Employee Suitability – the employee and supervisor and/or PI will assess the needs and work habits of the employee, compared to traits customarily recognized as appropriate for successful telecommuters.
- Job Responsibilities – the employee and supervisor and/or PI will discuss the job responsibilities and determine if the job is appropriate for a telecommuting arrangement.
- Equipment needs – the employee and supervisor and/or PI will assess necessary equipment, necessary telecommunications, other secured computer/data network access, work space design considerations, and scheduling issues.
- Telecommuting Schedule – the employee and supervisor will discuss and agree on an appropriate telecommuting schedule and the general and specific assignments or tasks that are to be performed while telecommuting. Ultimately the supervisor is the final decision maker as to final telecommuting schedule. The employee agrees that PAVIR operational, research and education needs always supersede the telecommuting policy or agreements.
If the Telecommuting Request is approved, a Telecommuting Agreement will be prepared and signed by all parties and a one (1) month trial period will commence. The trial period may be discontinued, at will, at any time at the request of either the telecommuter, the supervisor and PI, or PAVIR.
Employees who telecommute on a full time basis may be required to report to their VAPAHCS or PAVIR-based location from time to time as part of their regular job to perform duties, receive training or participate in meetings. Advance notice of the need to report to the VAPAHCS- or PAVIR-based location will be provided as early as practical to allow for the employee to make appropriate plans and arrangements. As a condition of accepting the telecommuting arrangement, employees agree to abide by the employer’s requirement to report to the VAPAHCS- or PAVIR-based location for such needs. Unless applicable law provides otherwise, employees who live within a 120-mile radius from VAPAHCS- or PAVIR-based location will be responsible for commuting expenses when required to report on-site and the time to travel to/from the employee’s home and the VAPAHCS- or PAVIR-based location will be treated as standard unpaid work commute time, unless otherwise specifically approved by the Director of HR or the CEO. In cases where commuting expenses have been authorized, standard GSA mileage reimbursement guidelines will be utilized to determine the maximum reimbursement amounts. Per-diem is typically not authorized for employees commuting from their home-based office to the PAVIR office, irrespective of the distance of their home location to PAVIR’s home office.
The employee and supervisor and/or PI will agree on the number of days of telecommuting allowed each week, the work schedule the employee will customarily maintain, and the manner and frequency of communication. The employee agrees that he/she will remain accessible and timely responsive to communications and needs from other management, staff, and collaborators or supported groups. Non-exempt employees agree to follow applicable paid rest break, and unpaid meal period, and overtime requirements and policies further explained in the Employee Handbook. The employee agrees to be accessible by phone, video, online chat, email or any other method agreed upon at the onset of the telecommuting agreement within a reasonable time period during the agreed upon work schedule.
If a PAVIR recognized paid holiday occurs on the employee’s defined telecommuting schedule, there is no option to “make up” that day by telecommuting on another day, nor trade telecommuting days with other staff members.
Consistent with the institution's expectations of information asset security for employees working at VAPAHCS- or PAVIR-based locations full-time, telecommuting employees will be expected to ensure the protection of proprietary company and research information accessible from their home office. Security steps include, but are not limited to, use of locked file cabinets and desks, regular password maintenance, and any other steps appropriate for the job and the environment. Official VA research, and PAVIR institutional documentation, including documentation that a research team may deem as official work records may not be removed from the workplace. Employees are expected to check with their supervisor and/or PI on the nature and identity of such records. With supervisor approval, copies may be made of such records if deemed necessary in the performance of the employee’s assigned tasks.
Unless applicable law provides otherwise, the employee will be responsible for determining tax, licensing and other legal implications for the business use of the employee's home based on IRS and community (homeowner’s association), local, state and federal government requirements and restrictions. Responsibility for complying with and fulfilling all obligations in these areas rests solely with the employee.
Unless applicable law provides otherwise, all necessary insurance protections, disclosures, coverage requirements and costs attributable to the telecommuting arrangement are the sole responsibility of the employee.
The employee will establish an appropriate work environment within their home for work purposes. Unless applicable law provides otherwise, PAVIR will not be responsible for costs associated with initial setup or continuing costs of the employee's home office such as remodeling, furniture or lighting, utilities, telecommunications and data installation, nor for repairs or modifications to the home office space. Employees will be offered appropriate assistance in setting up a work station designed for safe, comfortable work.
Telecommuting is not designed to be a replacement for appropriate child or other dependent care. Although an individual employee's schedule may be modified to accommodate child and dependent care needs, the focus of the arrangement must remain on job performance and meeting business demands without distractions or creating an unprofessional work atmosphere. Prospective telecommuters are encouraged to discuss expectations of telecommuting with family members prior to entering into a trial period.
“Trades” of telecommuting shifts/days/times between employees are not allowed without written supervisory consent.
Employees entering into a telecommuting agreement may be required to forfeit use of their onsite workstation in favor of a shared arrangement to maximize institution space needs.
The employee’s supervisor and/or PI will be trained by PAVIR HR how to monitor, coach, and supervise an employee who is telecommuting.
PAVIR will determine, with information supplied by the employee and the supervisor and/or PI, the appropriate equipment needs (including hardware, software, modems, phone and data lines, facsimile equipment or software, photocopiers, etc.) for each telecommuting arrangement on a case-by-case basis. The PAVIR HR and Information Technology (IT) departments will serve as resources in this matter. Equipment supplied by PAVIR will be maintained by the institution. Equipment supplied by the employee, if deemed appropriate by the institution, will be maintained by the employee. PAVIR accepts no responsibility for damage or repairs to employee-owned equipment. PAVIR reserves the right to make determinations as to appropriate equipment, subject to change at any time. Equipment supplied by the institution is to be used primarily for business purposes and the employee will neither make use nor allow others personal use of PAVIR equipment. The telecommuter may be asked to sign an inventory of all office property and to agree to take appropriate action to protect the items from damage or theft. Upon termination of employment all company property and records will be returned to PAVIR, unless other arrangements have been made. Unless applicable law provides otherwise, the employee accepts financial responsibility for any PAVIR equipment that is lost, stolen or damaged because of gross negligence, or a willful or dishonest act.
After equipment has been delivered, a designated representative of PAVIR reserves the right to visit the employee's home work site to inspect for possible work hazards and suggest modifications. Repeat inspections may occur on an as-needed basis. Injuries sustained by the employee while at their home work location and in conjunction with their regular work duties are normally covered by PAVIR's workers' compensation policy. Telecommuting employees are responsible for immediately notifying the PAVIR HR Department and their supervisor of such work related injuries in accordance with institution worker's compensation procedures. Unless applicable law provides otherwise, PAVIR is not liable for any injuries sustained by visitors to the employee’s telecommuting work site and the employee agrees to hold PAVIR harmless for injury to others at their telecommuting location.
PAVIR will supply the employee with reasonable and appropriate office supplies (pens, paper, etc.) for successful completion of job responsibilities as requested. The institution will also reimburse the employee for other business-related expenses such as long distance phone calls, shipping costs, etc., that are reasonably incurred in accordance with job responsibilities and claimed through PAVIR’s standard reimbursement policy and procedures.
Employee agrees that they will not use their personally owned vehicle for PAVIR business unless specifically directed by their supervisor or other manager to do so.
Evaluation of telecommuter performance during the trial period may include daily interaction by phone, online communication, video and e-mail between the employee and the manager, and weekly face-to-face meetings to discuss work progress and problems. At the conclusion of the trial period the employee and PI will each complete an evaluation of the arrangement and make recommendations for continuance or modifications. This evaluation must be submitted to PAVIR HR. Evaluation of telecommuter performance beyond the trial period will be consistent with that received by employees working at the office in both content and frequency and will focus on adherence to scheduled work hours, work output, work quality and completion of objectives.
An appropriate level of communication between the telecommuter and supervisor/PI will be agreed to as part of the discussion process and will be more formal during the trial period. After conclusion of the trial period, the supervisor/PI and telecommuter will communicate at a level consistent with employees working at the office or in a manner and frequency that seems appropriate for the job and the individuals involved.
Any and all exceptions to the Telecommuting Agreement and the associated policy and procedure must be requested in writing by the responsible manager, and approved in writing by the PAVIR CEO or delegate.
The availability of telecommuting as a flexible work arrangement for employees of PAVIR can be discontinued at any time at the discretion of the employer. Every effort will be made to provide 30 days’ notice of such a change to accommodate commuting, child care and other problems that may arise from such a change. There may be instances, however, where no notice is possible.