Flexible Work Arrangement Policy

Washington University recognizes that it offers a wide range of jobs in many different work settings that have differing operational needs. The University believes that the utilization of flexible work arrangements offers advantages for both the University and our employees where these arrangements are operationally possible. 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.  Especially during this time of COVID-19 we encourage, whenever possible, managers and employees to utilize flexible work options to reduce the density of the population on our campuses.

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.

Remote Work (Telecommuting): Remote work, or telecommuting, is a flexible 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 may 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

Remote work arrangements must be memorialized and approved through completion of the Remote Work/Telecommuting Agreement. Before entering into a remote work agreement, the department and the employee should discuss costs associated with the arrangement.  Unless agreed otherwise in the remote work agreement, the employee will be responsible for such costs (e.g., telephone, internet).

Under a remote work arrangement, 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 the regular University 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 data 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 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.

Remote work requests that involve employment outside of Missouri or that involve FMLA or other disability accommodations must also be reviewed by the Office of Human Resources in advance. Such remote work requests must be forwarded to either HROperations@wustl.edu (out-of-state requests) or employeerelations@wustl.edu (FMLA/Accommodation associated requests) in advance. A remote work arrangement is only allowable for employees telecommuting from within the United States.

Should management determine that exigent circumstances exist, such as natural disaster, pandemic, etc., temporary or intermittent remote work assignments may be approved by the department without formal written agreements. 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 other flexible work arrangements as described below.

Flex Time: Flex time is the most commonly requested flexible working arrangement, and is the easiest to manage and most affordable flexible work option. It offers flexibility 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 may be an employee choosing to start work at 6am so that they may leave earlier while other members of the same team may choose a later start time (10am) and work until later in the day.

A variation on the Flex Time schedule is the Split Work Schedule. Typically, a split work schedule involves an employee starting work earlier than normal then having a break of greater than 2 hours during the middle of the day and ending their day later than normal – thus splitting their day into two sections.

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 available to their constituents. As with all work schedules, flex time schedules must be clearly defined, memorialized in writing and approved in advance by the supervisor. This enables supervisors to ensure coverage of work and that bi-weekly employees are paid appropriately. In all situations, bi-weekly employees must record all their actual hours worked and must be paid overtime if they work greater 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 five 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 is not ruled out for exempt (monthly) employees. A compressed work week schedule offers employees the advantage of having more total 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 (bi-weekly) employees must record all actual hours worked and must 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 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 vs. full-time employees and not all full-time benefits are retained. Employees who are scheduled for less than 20 hours per week are not eligible for benefits except as required by law. Details can be found in the Benefits section of the HR website.

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/School and the 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 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 schedule, 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 (bi-weekly) employees and is not usually helpful when addressing exempt employees who already have schedule flexibility.

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 August 25, 2020

Remote Work (Telecommuting) Agreement (PDF)