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COVID-19 Interim Telecommuting Exceptions

The University’s Telecommuting Policy (University Policy Manual, section 16) outlines eligibility, procedures, and expectations regarding staff members working remotely. However, short-term telecommuting can be an appropriate option for staff members in extraordinary circumstances, such as during the current outbreak of Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19), which fall outside of the Telecommuting Policy for a limited period of time. Employees should be given flexibility in either taking time from work or working remotely for legitimate reasons (for example, caring for children during school closures, elderly family members, and those at risk with weakened immune systems, among others). Exceptions to the Telecommuting Policy last only for the duration of the outbreak, as defined and communicated by the University.

Advanced Planning and Critical Support Personnel

Critical Support Personnel (CSP) are expected to report to work in the event of University closure or other extraordinary circumstance, if it is safe to do so and even if they are not instructed to do so. In extreme circumstances, CSP may have legitimate reasons for being unable to report to work (such as the examples cited above). Supervisors are encouraged to speak with CSP as early as possible and in advance of extraordinary circumstances for planning purposes and to reassign work as necessary.

Eligibility for Short-Term Telecommuting

At least for the fall, every employee who is able to complete his/her work remotely is expected to do so, including student workers. Work processes should be reconfigured to the extent possible to increase opportunities for employees to work from home. Supervisors are responsible to ensure that their departments perform critical work to care for the Pepperdine community and maintain operations to the appropriate extent communicated by the University; flexibility may be given to non-essential work.

Typical eligibility criteria for telecommuting (for example, one year of service) do not apply in such circumstances, and an approved Telecommuting Agreement is not necessary.

Supervisors should regularly communicate with their staff regarding the fluidity of such situations, as well as changing business needs (such as the need to report to campus). Supervisors or employees may revoke a short-term telecommuting agreement at any time and for any reason.

Expectations for All Staff

Telecommuting staff members are responsible to:

  • Fulfill the expectations agreed upon with their supervisor regarding the scope of their telecommuting assignment, such as:

    • Duties and responsibilities
    • Hours of work (rest/meal breaks, overtime, and other wage and hour requirements still apply)
    • Hours of availability to communicate regarding University business
    • Communication of work assignments and personal needs, including reporting absences of work due to injury, illness, or caring for a family member
    • The use of University equipment and materials.
  • Appropriately complete their timecard. For instructions on how to complete timecards during a pandemic, please see the Faculty/Staff FAQ webpage.
  • Protect University information by following the University’s policies governing information security, software licensing, and data protection; ensuring that unauthorized individuals do not access Pepperdine data, either in print or electronically; and not accessing restricted-level information in print or electronically unless approved by the supervisor and protected by policy-compliant encryption and/or physical controls.
  • Maintain a safe environment in which to work.

 

Sample Expectations for Supervisors

Supervisors should communicate specific expectations to individual team members based on each person’s needs and circumstance. To ensure that the telecommuting assignment is mutually beneficial to both the University and staff members, planning and communicating expectations in advance of the telecommuting is crucial.

For sample expectations that you may tailor for your staff members, please see Appendix A.

General Agreement

Staff members must comply with University rules, policies, practices, and instructions and understand that violation of same may result in termination of telecommuting privileges and/or discipline up to, and including, dismissal from the University.

Short-term telecommuting in extraordinary circumstances does not change the basic terms and conditions of employment with the University. Telecommuting assignments do not change a staff member's classification, compensation, or benefits. The accrual and charging of leave time is subject to the same policies and procedures applicable to non-telecommuting staff members.

Pepperdine University is an "at-will" employer, meaning that the employment relationship between the University and each of its staff members may be terminated at any time by either the University or the staff member, with or without notice or cause. Telecommuting assignments are not contracts or promises of employment. Nothing in a telecommuting assignment guarantees employment for any specific term, nor alters the "at-will" nature of employment.

Appendix A

Telecommuting During the Coronavirus Disease 2019 Outbreak
Sample Supervisor Expectations

Dear Supervisors:

Advanced planning and regular communication will help ensure that telecommuting assignments are mutually beneficial to both the employee and the University. Circumstances can change quickly during such fluid situations, and you are responsible to ensure that your department maintains adequate business operations. You should speak with your employees now to plan business coverage, should some of your employees be personally affected by the outbreak and unable to perform their duties partially or totally.

Additionally, emotions can run high with employees experiencing stress from their personal circumstances, in addition to any anxiety from disruption to normal routines. Without clear communication, it is easy for people to make assumptions, misinterpret directions, or further compound issues by not being on the same page. Please take the time to speak with each of your team members in advance to ensure seamless transitions during this potential time of change.

The expectations you have for each telecommuting assignment may vary among your team members, based on their role, needs, and unique circumstance. Please communicate clear expectations to your team members prior to the telecommuting assignment beginning.

Below are sample expectations; some of these may apply to some of your staff members and not others. Please tailor and add to the sample expectations below to meet the needs of each of your team members. Human Resources is pleased to answer any questions and assist in any way.

Sample Expectations

  1. The opportunity to work from home will be granted for a limited period of time (list dates).

    1. The opportunity to work from home may be withdrawn at any time.
  2. If you cannot work remotely due to you being ill or caring for a family member who needs assistance, notify me no later than the beginning of your scheduled shift.
  3. Adhere to all University timekeeping policies and procedures. For instructions on how to complete your timecard during a pandemic, please see the Faculty/Staff FAQ webpage.

    1. For non-exempt employees:

      1. You may work up to eight (8) hours each business day. Refrain from working over eight hours in one day, or over 40 hours in one week.
      2. Take one fifteen (15) minute break near the middle of each four hour segment of work.
      3. Take one 30-60 minute meal break prior to the end of your fifth hour of work.
    2. For exempt employees:

      1. Only record full-day absences with the correct code on your timecard.
  4. Be available by phone and/or e-mail during the agreed upon hours (list hours).
  5. Respond to all e-mails and voicemails within one business day.

    1. You do not need to provide an answer within one business day; but you must respond to each e-mail indicating that you have received the message and that you will respond fully in a timely manner.
  6. E-mail your supervisor at the end of each business day providing a progress report on your work, including:

    1. projects you have completed during the day
    2. pending projects and their estimated date of completion
    3. items on which you seek supervisory approval and insight