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Handbook of Operating Procedures

Remote Work

Policy Number: 228

Subject:

Remote work

Scope:

Employees (except for student appointments, HOOP 167, Student Employment Appointments, residents and clinical fellows)

Date Reviewed:
March 2022
Responsible Office:
Human Resources
Responsible Executive:
Vice President & Chief Human Resources Officer

I. POLICY AND GENERAL STATEMENT

This policy sets forth the requirements and expectations of The University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston (“university”) for all employees who are permitted to or are instructed to work remotely.

This policy does not apply to remote work associated with duties or activities that must be performed at, or near, patient locations or university sites. Nor does this policy regulate intermittent work performed by exempt employees at home or elsewhere during the evenings, weekends, holidays or other time off from work or outside of core work hours.

II. DEFINITIONS

Plan: The “Remote Work Plan Requirements,” attached as Appendix A.  Employees with a mandatory or voluntary remote work arrangement pursuant to this policy must abide by the Plan’s terms.

Remote Work or Telework: An arrangement whereby an employee is regularly scheduled to work away from his or her assigned university-located workspace in an approved workspace. Remote work plans may be either mandatory (an employee is directed by the university or by government mandate to telework) or voluntary (an employee is allowed to telework).

III. PROCEDURE

Employees must meet with their supervisors to determine whether remote work is appropriate. Supervisors must review this policy, and complete the tasks on the checklist (Appendix B) to determine whether remote work is appropriate.

For employees whose work eligibility is based on a non-immigrant visa sponsorship, the supervisor and employee must contact the Office of International Affairs to determine whether remote work is permitted by U.S. immigration regulations. 

A. Participation Criteria  

  1. Voluntary: Unless hired for a remote position or instructed specifically to work remotely, or approved for remote work as an accommodation related to illness or disability, an employee may be required to work in a designated workplace location for onboarding and training before being considered eligible to work remotely, except as otherwise warranted by law or exigent circumstances. Any employee working remotely must have a proven ability to perform all functional components of the position to a satisfactory level of expectation as determined in the sole discretion of the employee’s supervisor. The supervisor must determine how telework will affect the department or whether telework is appropriate for the employee’s duties or functions. For example, if an employee regularly requires access to sensitive information that cannot be adequately protected to the satisfaction of the supervisor or other department leadership, the employee will not be allowed to work remotely.
  2. Mandatory: While remote work arrangements may be a voluntary agreement between an employee and the university, the university reserves the right to require any employee to work remotely at any time, for any period of time as determined by business needs, and for any reason including federal, state, or local law or public health requirements. 

B. Remote Work Plan Requirements

The Plan is an integral part of, and is incorporated into, this policy. The Plan is attached as Appendix A. At the discretion of the supervisor, an employee with a remote work arrangement may be required to sign a copy of the Plan for departmental records.  However, regardless of whether signature is required, all employees with a remote work arrangement must comply with the terms of the Plan.

Supervisors must document in writing all remote work arrangements, including duration of the arrangement, expected work schedule, university provided equipment and supplies, and work location. 

C. Required Periodic Review of Remote Work Arrangements

Remote work arrangements should be reviewed at the time of an employee’s annual evaluation or more frequently to ensure that the arrangement meets the university’s needs and complies with all applicable requirements.

Indicators that a remote work arrangement may need to be modified or terminated include, but are not limited to, the following: 

  • The absence of a sound basis to evaluate the employee’s performance;
  • Any shortfall in the quantity or quality of the employee’s work as compared to the employee’s previous work or to the work of those who work on site;
  • The inability to obtain prompt responses from the employee during regular work hours;
  • The existence of distractions at the remote work site when communicating with the employee that, in the determination of the employee’s supervisor, are disruptive to a team or interfere with the employee’s ability to perform the duties and responsibilities of his or her work; or
  • The inability of work activities to be conducted safely in the remote work location.

D. Work Location

Except where otherwise required by law, employees are not eligible for travel reimbursement. Employees who permanently work outside of the greater Houston area (or other geographic area surrounding their university-assigned work location) must pay transportation and lodging expenses incurred to attend mandatory in-person meetings or training sessions in that geographic area.

E. Workspace, Ergonomics, Safety and Security

Employees are required to use any university-issued or -approved equipment and software, if provided, when performing work for the university. The university may determine the appropriate equipment needs (including hardware, software, phone and data lines and other office equipment) for each remote work arrangement. The university will apply its usual policies and procedures for maintenance and updates of equipment provided for at-home use.  While maintenance and updates will be performed at the remote work site when possible, employees are expected to bring equipment to campus upon request.   Employees should not purchase any item to perform work unless the use and/or the reimbursement of the expense is expressly approved in writing. 

 An employee must be able to provide a secure and safe working environment to be allowed to work remotely and must identify in writing what additional items and expenses are necessary to provide a compliant workspace prior to entering into a remote work arrangement. If a change occurs necessitating additional items or expense to maintain a compliant workspace, the employee shall immediately notify his or her supervisor in writing.  The supervisor may approve the additional items or expense or terminate the remote work arrangement.

A supervisor must review the guidelines in Appendix C with an employee candidate for remote work and should obtain satisfactory responses from the employee before approving the remote work arrangement. 

Employees who require particular equipment or other accommodation to perform the work remotely must raise those requests with the employee’s supervisor. If the request is related to a disability, the employee should contact the Diversity & Equal Opportunity Office, at 713-500-CALL or CALL@uth.tmc.edu.

Employees with questions or concerns regarding safety or ergonomics may also contact the Safety, Health, Environment, and Risk Management (SHERM) Office at 713-500-8100. The university must first determine whether the arrangement is appropriate before approving any expenditures.

IV. CONTACTS

    • Human Resources
    • 713-500-3180
    • https://www.uth.edu/hr/department/employee-relations/
    • Office of Faculty Affairs & Development
    • 713-500-3062
    • https://www.uth.edu/academics/contact-us/faculty-affairs--development.htm
    • Applicable Department Chair Administrative Equivalent

V. EXHIBITS

Appendix A: Remote Work Plan Requirements

Appendix B: Checklist for Establishing Remote Work Agreement

Appendix C: Workplace Guidelines