Human Resources Policies
HR107 Staff Flexible Work Arrangements
Subject Matter Expert:
Policy Steward:Vice President for Human Resources>
POLICY'S INITIAL DATE: July 25, 2022
THIS VERSION EFFECTIVE: November 10, 2022
- Planning and Development
- Staff Flexible Work Arrangement Criteria
- Compliance Requirements
- Workspace Recommendations and Equipment
- Modification and Discontinuation
- University Policies
- Insurance Coverage
- Cross References
The purpose of this policy is to provide guidance to unit executives regarding how to create and implement Flexible Work Arrangements for staff employees if the unit executive determines that such arrangements are appropriate for their units. Flexible Work Arrangements can promote productivity and work/life balance by creating a plan for employees who are able to complete their work outside of a university workspace and/or conventional core hours and help to reduce overall greenhouse gas emissions from commuting. Penn State recognizes the opportunity for flexible work arrangements and the desire for staff employees to create a more balanced working environment. Flexible work arrangements are encouraged if the work needs of the unit can still be met, and the arrangement does not inhibit the University's essential need for a robust university workspace or on-campus experience.
This policy is applicable to full-time and part-time staff appointments located within the United States.
This policy does not apply to faculty or postdoctoral appointments. Flexibility is inherent in most faculty members' work schedules and the University expects full-time faculty members to participate fully in their university workspace or on-campus intellectual and educational community and generally does not permit remote work arrangements. Faculty members seeking a temporary change in their university workspace or on-campus work expectations must make a request to their unit executive (dean/chancellor).
Flexible work arrangements include a variety of options that meet the University's operational needs while allowing the employee to successfully balance work and life demands. The following flexible work arrangement examples is not a comprehensive list, and is not indicative of arrangements that will be viable for every employee; it is provided solely as an aid for plan development:
- 100% remote work.
- Hybrid Schedule - A combination of time spent working remotely, and in a university-controlled office.
- Staggered start and end times.
- Alternative shifts.
- Compressed schedules, such as four 10-hour days.
- Mid-day flex time. For example, working 8:00am-12:00pm, on break between 12:00pm-2:00pm, and then working 2:00pm-6:00pm.
- Core hours with a variable schedule, which is where an employee must be present during specified core hours determined by the supervisor but may adjust their arrival and departure times each day (e.g., set office coverage between 10:00am-2:00pm every workday).
- Reduced schedules outlined in University policy HR105-Reduced FTE Schedules.
- Voluntary phased retirement outlined in University policy HR29-Voluntary Phased Retirement Program.
Appropriate flexible work arrangements will depend on the nature of the position and the specific needs of the unit.
The University has sole discretion in the approval and continuation of all flexible work arrangements.
All flexible work arrangements must be consistent with the direction from the unit executive regarding flexible work arrangements, submitted through the defined Workday process, and must be approved by the unit's identified approvers.
During the first year of implementation, the supervisor and the employee must review any approved flexible work arrangement routinely, but not less than quarterly. Thereafter, reviews of the arrangement must be made at least annually. During these reviews, adjustments to the flexible arrangement may be made to address concerns or challenges.
Work performed by an employee should meet the following criteria to qualify for a flexible work arrangement:
- Be self-directed or has a self-directed component.
- Does not require in-person interactions with students, visitors, customers, and fellow employees, or the flexible work arrangement proposed allows the employee to fulfill their responsibilities regarding such interactions.
- Does not require on-going, in-person program management or facilities oversight.
- Can be performed efficiently and effectively, without disrupting the productivity of the unit.
- Have clear, articulated outcomes that can be assessed by their supervisor.
Any workspace outside of a University-controlled space:
- Must be free from hazards, disruptions, and able to accommodate necessary equipment (i.e., computer.)
- Must have the appropriate technology support needed such as reliable internet service, to allow the employee to successfully complete their job duties.
- Must have the appropriate data security controls in place in accordance with Policy AD95 and any other applicable policy.
- Must be a private space that is not occupied by other individuals and does not have other individuals entering/disrupting the space throughout the work day.
Employees who are approved for a flexible work arrangement must:
- Successfully manage their own schedule.
- Produce the output needed to successfully perform the role.
- Be able to work independently.
- Provide open communication lines with their supervisor and colleagues.
- Share knowledge with others when needed.
- Have assessable and articulated work outcomes.
Units should consider the following before approving a flexible work arrangement:
- Impacts to staff coverage, efficient working practices, and employee equity.
- Allocations for office space, equipment, and related technology.
- Costs to the University and the employee.
- Flexible work arrangements are not suitable for all positions and must be decided on a case-by-case basis.
- Remote and hybrid work arrangements are not designed as and should not be used as a substitute for appropriate child or adult care.
- Any flexible work arrangement that has been approved and implemented must be transparent to students, faculty, staff, coworkers, and customers.
- Employees who are approved for a flexible work arrangement must follow the university's ergonomics checklist which can be found here.
- Working outside the state of Pennsylvania may have legal implications which must be reviewed before final approval is granted. Unit HR will work with the appropriate subject matter experts to review out-of-state requests.
- The travel of remote employees to their university workspace is considered to be ordinary commuting, and as such, is not eligible for travel reimbursement. If a remote employee, residing 100 miles or more from their university workspace, is required to be physically present at their university workspace for certain dates or events, the unit must clearly identify what, if any, travel expenses will be reimbursed, consistent with University Policy TR02, Penn State Travel Policy. Travel expectations for remote employees should be clearly defined as a characteristics of the position and units must carefully evaluate the remote work arrangement to ensure the needs of the unit can still be met.
- If the employee has access to information that is subject to specific state, federal, or international laws or regulations, self-regulatory frameworks, contractual requirements, or is otherwise classified as Restricted or High Information per University Policy AD95, Information Assurance and IT Security, the Office of Information Security may need to be consulted during the approval process to verify any necessary information security controls can be implemented and that the flexible work arrangement allows the University to comply with any applicable laws, regulations, frameworks, or contractual requirements.
Employees utilizing a flexible work arrangement are responsible for providing a safe and healthy workspace that provides adequate privacy and security necessary to effectively do their work in accordance with University policy. Remote workspaces must provide sufficient internet speeds for communication and work responsibilities.
The University will not provide office furniture, internet service, printers or scanners. Additionally, the University will not provide reimbursement for electricity, phone, internet, or office supplies.
Employees will be provided one set of computer technology consistent with a university workspace configuration that can be located in their university workspace or home workspace. This technology may include the following:
- Laptop with integrated camera (or desktop if needed).
- Docking station.
- Monitor(s) consistent with full in-person workstation provision.
- Headset with microphone (if needed).
- Webcam (if needed for desktop computer configuration).
An employee who is approved for a flexible work arrangement may be re-assigned to a new office at their university workspace or may be required to share an office or cubicle with another employee.
An employee may be required to work outside the provisions of their flexible work arrangement; such arrangements are subject to change as business needs require. Flexible arrangements may be altered, modified, or discontinued at the sole discretion of the University. Employees should be provided with at least two weeks' notice of permanent changes to their flexible work arrangement. Occasional short-term changes to their arrangement may be required in response to operational needs, as determined by the unit.
Decisions regarding flexible work arrangements are not grievable per University Policy HR79, Staff Grievance Procedure.
Full-time staff employees working a flexible work arrangement remain eligible for benefits as stated in University Policy HR34, Employment Conditions for Full-Time Staff Employees and any other policy providing benefits for full-time employees. Employees who have a reduced FTE arrangement in accordance with University Policy HR105, Reduced FTE Schedules are eligible for benefits as stated in that policy. Part-time employees are not entitled to benefits as stated in University Policy HR103, Employment Conditions for Part-Time Employees.
Employees on a flexible work arrangement must adhere to all University policies.
Employees utilizing flexible work arrangements who sustain injuries/illnesses in the course and/or scope of their employment must follow the normal procedures for reporting the illness or injury. They are responsible for reporting the same to their supervisor and must complete a report through the University's third-part vendor via online reporting or a phone call within 24 hours of the event. As with any employee claim for workers' compensation, it is subject to investigation prior to any determination regarding coverage and/or compensability. An employee also may be required to allow one or more representatives of the University to access the remote work location, if applicable.
Date Approved:November 10, 2022>
Date Published:November 10, 2022>