Original Issuance Date: May 17, 2021

Last Revision Date: May 17, 2021

1.     Policy Purpose

This policy provides a framework for the creation of telecommuting agreements between an employee and their supervisor.  This policy replaces the State of Wisconsin Telecommuting Guidelines (2000) as the primary source of authority for telecommuting agreements within the University of Wisconsin System.

2.     Responsible UW System Officer

UW System Chief Human Resource Officer

3.     Scope and Institutional Responsibilities

Per Wis. Stat. 36.115, this policy applies to all UW System Institutions, except UW- Madison.

Institutions may develop their own policies, procedures, and/or guidance, using this System policy as minimum level of restriction.

This policy does not apply to telecommuting agreements that are part of a reasonable accommodation under the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 or a religious accommodation under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 Background

4.     Background

Wis. Stat. § 36.115 authorizes and directs the University of Wisconsin System to develop two distinct personnel systems: one for UW-Madison and one for all other UW System institutions.  Regent Policy Document 20-21, University Personnel Systems delegates to the President of the UW System or his or her designees the authority to implement and maintain a personnel system for all UW System employees except employees assigned to UW-Madison. The Board of Regents authorizes the President or his or her designees to formulate operating policies to administer this personnel system.

As part of an evolving workforce management strategy, and reflective of both the labor marketplace and an interest in maximizing operational efficiency, the UW System seeks to expand flexibility in working arrangements for our employees.  Telecommuting is one tool that may be appropriate for some employees in some positions.  This policy enables, but does not require, UW System Institutions to establish telecommuting arrangements with employees when appropriate and desirable for the institution and the employee.

5.     Definitions

Telecommuting: An employment arrangement in which an employee performs their job functions from an approved alternate worksite other than the employee’s primary headquarters location (main office), one or more days per month on a standard and recurring basis.

Intermittent Telecommuting: An unplanned period of telecommuting arising out of transient circumstances (e.g. illness, weather emergency, temporary school closure, etc.) lasting no longer than ten consecutive business days.

Short-Term Telecommuting: A continuous period of part-time or full-time telecommuting lasting no longer than three months.

Long-Term Telecommuting: A continuous arrangement for part-time or full-time telecommuting subject to at least annual review.

6.     Policy Statement

It is the policy of the UW System that telecommuting arrangements are permitted when approved by the employee and their immediate supervisor with notice of the agreement provided to the appropriate Vice Chancellor/Vice President or designee; when it is feasible that an employee could fulfill their job duties from an alternate location for the period covered by the arrangement; and when the telecommuting arrangement does not disrupt the operations of the UW System.  Telecommuting arrangements may also be initiated by the employer for any legitimate business purpose.  The decision to authorize a telecommuting agreement is at the discretion of the supervisor, subject to the review of the appropriate Vice Chancellor/Vice President or designee.

A. Eligibility

  1. Only employees whose job duties can be fulfilled from a remote location are eligible for a telecommuting agreement.
  2. Telecommuting is only available if the work unit and institution have the ability to monitor or measure the work product produced by the employee during the period of telecommuting.
  3. Telecommuting is only available to employees who have all tools required for their job available to them at the remote location, as determined by the employee’s supervisor. Working space, insurance, utilities, and other services for the remote workspace must be provided by the employee at their own expense as a condition of the telecommuting agreement.
  4. Prior to beginning a telecommuting arrangement, the employee must certify to the employer that their remote workspace meets minimum safety requirements.

B. Duration and Form of the Telecommuting Agreement

  1. Intermittent Telecommuting is permitted for an eligible employee without a formal written agreement upon the mutual consent of the employee and their supervisor.
  2. Short-Term Telecommuting is permitted for eligible employees based on the policies and procedures of the local institution. A short-term telecommuting agreement which extends beyond three months should be converted to a long-term telecommuting agreement if both the supervisor and the employee desire to continue the telecommuting arrangement.
    1. If an institution does not maintain a short-term telecommuting policy, then any telecommuting agreement longer than two weeks must require the Telecommuting Application and Approval Form.
    2. If an institution does maintain an institutional policy for short term telecommuting, the policy must include the following minimum components:
      1. The policy must require the short-term telecommuting agreement to be in writing, pursuant to 6.B.II.c.
      2. The policy must identify the eligibility criteria for short-term telecommuting.
      3. The policy must limit the length of the short-term telecommuting agreement to no more than three months.
    3. A short-term telecommuting agreement must be in writing and must contain the following minimum requirements:
      1. The name of the employee and the authorizing supervisor.
      2. The requirement that the employee follow all institution-level policies for telecommuting, information technology remote access and data security.
      3. An inventory of any equipment being loaned to the employee for off-site use.
      4. An affirmation by the employee that their home workspace will be kept free from any workplace hazards.
      5. The beginning and end date of the short-term telecommuting agreement, and the expected work schedule during the term of the agreement.
  3. Long-Term Telecommuting is permitted in accordance with this policy. Long-term telecommuting arrangements must utilize the Telecommuting Application and Approval Form.

C.  Limitations

  1. The approval or end of a telecommuting agreement does not affect or change an employee’s conditions of employment, salary, or benefits.
  2. Employees who are telecommuting are required to attend meetings, work, or other functions away from their alternate workspace, if circumstances require such travel.
  3. Employees who are not FLSA-exempt must report actual hours worked and may not work overtime, or additional hours that generate night or weekend differentials, without receiving supervisor approval in advance of the overtime work being performed. Night and weekend differentials are not available when a telecommuting employee chooses to shift their work hours into a night or weekend period for the employee’s benefit or convenience.
  4. Employees who are telecommuting will work their approved normal work schedule during the period of the telecommuting arrangement unless an alternate schedule is agreed upon in advance.
  5. Employees who are telecommuting must be available during their normal work hours. Employees should be reachable by telephone, video conferencing or some other form of live communication during the workday, as per the arrangements with their supervisor and coworkers.
  6. An employee operating under a telecommuting agreement is subject to the same notification, approval, and reporting requirements for sick leave or other paid time off as if the employee were working at the organization’s primary headquarters.
  7. Employees who are telecommuting must have general liability homeowner’s or renter’s insurance. Employees are responsible for notifying their homeowner’s or renter’s insurance company of their intent to work from home. Employees may not host UWS business visitors, including other employees, in their home. The employee must provide the employer with evidence of insurance upon request.
  8. Employees who are telecommuting are responsible for complying with all University of Wisconsin System risk management and information technology security and access policies while in their alternate workspace, as well as any institutional policies covering these subjects, to the same extent as if they were working at their primary headquarters location.
  9. Any telecommuting agreement which involves the employee working outside of the State of Wisconsin requires the approval of a Vice Chancellor/Vice President. Such approval shall only be granted after consultation with University Legal Counsel regarding the tax and employment law implications of remote work based out of state.  A supplemental agreement may be required as part of the approval for out-of-state telecommuting.
  10. Maintenance of any University-owned equipment issued to a telecommuting employee will be performed only by a University-authorized technician. Maintenance and repair of employee-owned equipment is the responsibility of the employee.

D. Approval

  1. Approval of any telecommuting agreement is at the discretion of the employee’s supervisor.
  2. Notice of any telecommuting agreement longer than intermittent telecommuting must be routed to the appropriate Vice Chancellor or Vice President overseeing the employee’s work area.
  3. Telecommuting agreements may be discontinued with 30 days’ notice by either the employee or the institution at any time without cause. This time may be extended by mutual agreement or may be shortened either by mutual agreement or if urgent, exigent circumstances require a shorter notice period to meet an important interest of the UW System.
  4. Telecommuting agreements may be modified at any time at the discretion of the employee’s supervisor. Employees should receive reasonable notice in advance of any modification.  The length of the notice should be guided by the interests behind the modification balanced with the employee’s needs.  The length of notice is determined by the supervisor.
  5. If an employee is dissatisfied with a supervisor’s decision regarding the approval, modification, or termination of a telecommuting agreement, the employee may bring any issues or concerns to the institution’s Human Resources department for review and resolution.

7.     Related Documents

Wis. Stat. § 36.115

Regent Policy Document 20-21, University Personnel Systems

Regent Policy Document 25-3. Acceptable Use of Information Technology Resources

Regent Policy Document 25-5, Information Technology: Information Security

UW System Administrative Policy 1230, Workplace Safety

Telecommuting Application and Approval Form – accessed through employee login to MyUW portal:

  • Login to your account at MyUW. Select Personal Information;
  • Select Update My Personal Information;
  • Login through your multifactor authentication. Select your institution;
  • Select Telecommuting Agreement from the panel on the left side of the MyUW screen; and
  • Select New Telework eForm. Complete the form. It will be routed to your supervisor.

(For more information on how to access, submit, modify, and review a Telecommuting Agreement, see the Telecommuting Agreement Tipsheet listed at the bottom of the Human Resources/Personal Information Help Videos and Tipsheets page.)

8.     Policy History

First approved: May 17, 2021

9.     Scheduled Review

May 2026