Flexible Work Arrangement Policy

In general, the majority of employees at Washington University perform their duties on-campus in support of our teaching, clinical and research operations. The University also recognizes that the utilization of flexible work arrangements offers advantages for both the University and our employees where these arrangements are operationally appropriate. Similarly, our employees have different personal and family circumstances and need options for balancing personal and work commitments.  The variety of flexible work arrangements described below offer options to employees and managers for addressing both personal and operational needs. 

Flexible work arrangements must be memorialized in writing and comply with all legal requirements, including that non-exempt (bi-weekly) employees keep track of their actual hours worked and receive overtime pay if they work in excess of 40 hours in a work week. Employees working under flexible work arrangements are required to satisfactorily perform all job duties and to comply with all applicable University policies. Flexible work arrangements may include flexibility associated with work locations, modalities and/or schedules.

Work Location Arrangements

While the majority of positions at the University are performed on campus, there are situations where it is in the best interests of the University for employees to have an officially designated work location off-campus. These arrangements may be generally defined as:

  • On Campus: The employee’s official work location is designated to be on campus and an on-site presence is required on a regular basis. This is the University’s regular work model.
  • Remote: The employee’s official work location is off-site (not in a University owned or rented work space). The employee may work remotely on a regular basis but be required to come onto campus for meetings and other activities. These situations are an exception to the normal University work model.
  • Hybrid: The employee has a defined schedule in which work is carried out some days of the week or month on campus in a designated space and some days in an official remote location. These situations are an exception to the normal University work model.

The above work arrangements do not preclude employees being allowed to occasionally shift their work location between remote or on-campus with manager’s prior approval and based on University business needs. In all of these situations, it is important to note that all instances where the employee is working at an off-campus location are covered by the remote work policy described below.

Each work location arrangement may support the use of the flexible work schedule arrangements described below.

For more resources and guidance concerning work location arrangements, please visit Workplace.

Remote Work Arrangements

Remote work, or telecommuting, is a working arrangement that enables an employee to work off-site for all or part of the workweek on a regular basis. Washington University considers remote work to be a viable alternative to working from an on-site location in cases where the characteristics of the job are compatible with such an arrangement, and the physical environment, equipment, and technology are adequate to support it. Remote work will not be available to all employees; it is appropriate for only some employees and jobs. Employees working under a remote work arrangement may be expected to return on-site periodically for meetings or other events, to meet other work requirements, or as otherwise required by their supervisors.  Employees must adhere to all applicable University, school and departmental policies while telecommuting. The University’s expectations for appropriate standards of conduct and dress continue to apply within the remote work environment.

Remote work arrangements must be memorialized and approved in writing by the department; this may be in the form of an email. Arrangements must comply with all legal and policy requirements, including that non-exempt (bi-weekly) employees keep track of their actual hours worked, follow applicable policies regarding meal/break periods, and receive overtime pay if they work in excess of 40 hours in a work week.  Once a remote work arrangement is approved, departments are expected to ensure that the employee’s work location is accurately represented in the administrative systems.

Before approving a remote work arrangement, the department and the employee should discuss costs associated with the arrangement and how work will be managed.  The department should identify what costs are reimbursable, who is responsible for maintenance of equipment, the specific remote work location, and a plan to ensure that University information and property is kept properly secured. Unless otherwise specified in writing by the department or by University policy, the employee will be responsible for costs such as telephone and internet.  Once a remote work arrangement is approved, the responsible business office must ensure that the administrative systems are updated to reflect an accurate work location and that the employee is working remotely. Please see the Management Guide for Remote Work Site Setup for more information.

While working remotely, the employee is responsible for ensuring that all forms of information (paper, electronic, conversations) are kept secure and confidential to at least the same degree as when working at an on-campus worksite.  Employees with responsibility for handling Protected Health Information must maintain compliance with the University’s HIPAA and information security policies.  Additionally, employees responsible for handling protected student information must maintain compliance with the University’s FERPA policies. For more information, please see https://hipaa.wustl.edu/policies-procedures, https://informationsecurity.wustl.edu/policies/computer-use-policy and https://registrar.wustl.edu/student-records/ferpa-privacy/washington-university-ferpa-policy.

Employees are responsible for maintaining specific remote work hours consistent with departmental needs and requirements, including maintaining remote work sites in a manner free from health or safety hazards that could endanger themselves, their family or others.  If an injury to an employee occurs at the remote work site, the employee is responsible for notifying their manager of the injury in accordance with the University’s workers’ compensation policy.  The University reserves the right to inspect the remote work site.  The University is not responsible for any injuries sustained by visitors to a remote work location.  Any individual tax implications related to the remote work space are the employee’s responsibility. For more information on federal, state, and in some cases St. Louis City, withholding taxes please see https://financialservices.wustl.edu/wfin-topic/payroll/tax-withholdings/.

Remote work arrangements that involve any employment outside of Missouri and Illinois must be reviewed with the Office of Human Resources in advance; HR review can be initiated by contacting HROperations@wustl.edu.  The remote work arrangement policy is not intended to cover employment arrangements outside of the United States; such arrangements are covered under the International Employment policy.

Should management determine that exigent circumstances exist, such as natural disaster or pandemic, temporary or intermittent remote work assignments may be approved by the department without formal written arrangement.  Departments may approve temporary telecommuting based on the circumstances and needs of the department, and employees should not assume they may work from home without first obtaining management’s approval.  Once the exigent circumstances cease, such remote assignments must either stop or be memorialized in a written remote work agreement.

Remote work arrangements can be used in conjunction with flexible schedule arrangements. For information, resources and support specific to remote work, please see the Remote work web page.

Flexible Schedule Arrangements

Regardless of work location, flexible schedule arrangements that meet the needs of both the department and the employee may be considered.  Types of flexible schedule arrangements include flex time, compressed work schedules, part-time work schedules, and modified work week schedules.

Flex Time: Flex time is the most commonly requested flexible working arrangement, and is the easiest to manage and most affordable flexible work option.  The use of flex time allows a greater opportunity for employees to balance their work and personal responsibilities. It also offers the opportunity to expand the hours during which a work area may be open for operation.

Flex time provides options in setting the work start, end and/or meal times, typically with a designated core period during the day when all staff members are present or working.  It may also allow the meal break itself to be taken at the end/beginning of the day so that the employee may leave at an earlier time.  An example of flex time is an employee choosing to start work at 6am so that they may leave earlier, while another member of the same team may choose a 10am start time and work until later in the day.

A variation on flex time is the split work schedule, under which the work day is split into two distinct segments.  Typically, a split work schedule involves an employee starting work earlier than normal, having a break of at least 2 hours during the middle of the day, and ending their day later than normal.

As with all flexible schedule arrangements, flex time and split work schedules must be memorialized in writing, and non-exempt employees must record all actual hours worked, follow applicable policies regarding meal/break periods, and be paid overtime if they work more than 40 hours in a work week.

Compressed Work Schedules: A compressed work schedule allows an employee to work a traditional 37.5-40 hour workweek in less than 5 workdays.  For example, a full-time 40 hour/week employee could work four 10-hour days instead of five 8-hour days.  This option is more easily applied to non-exempt (bi-weekly) employees (for whom maximum work hours are identified), but it may be applied to exempt (monthly) employees under appropriate circumstances.  A compressed work week schedule offers employees the advantage of having more days outside of work to take care of personal responsibilities. 

As with all flexible work arrangements, compressed work schedules must be memorialized in writing, and non-exempt employees must record all actual hours worked, follow applicable policies regarding meal/break periods, and be paid overtime if they work more than 40 hours in a work week.

Part-Time Work Schedules: The University defines part-time status as any schedule set for less than 37.5 hours in a work week.  Part-time employees working between 20-37.5 hours per week are eligible for part-time benefits; employees who are scheduled for less than 20 hours per week are not eligible for benefits except as required by law.  Employees who are considering a move to part-time status should read the Benefits eligibility section of the HR website to understand the benefits impact.  Some benefits, such as health insurance, have a greater out-of-pocket cost for part-time employees, and not all full-time benefits are retained.   

Modified Work Week: While the University generally defines its work week as Monday through Friday, it may be in the best interests of the department and employee to redefine when a work week begins and ends.  Each bi-weekly pay cycle is comprised of two weeks.  Under a modified work week arrangement, a non-exempt (bi-weekly) employee who normally works five days each week of the pay period could, for example, be assigned to work three days in week one of the payroll cycle and seven in the second week.  Departments would need to consider that such an arrangement would likely result in overtime payments.  Redefining the work week is most effective when applied to non-exempt employees, as exempt employees often already have greater schedule flexibility (subject to departmental needs).

A department’s modification of the work week in a specific instance will not change the University’s definition of the work week for payroll purposes, its pay dates, or its method of calculating overtime within a work week.  The University’s payroll work week begins Sunday at midnight and ends Saturday at midnight. 

Please contact the Office of Human Resources to discuss what arrangements may work best for your area.

Updated July 23, 2020; revised April 30, 2021