6.87 – Establishing an Alternative Work Arrangement (AWA)

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Scope: NMSU System

Source: ARP Chapter 6 | HR - Hiring, Work Rules and Assignments

Rule Administrator:

Last Updated: 06/29/2020

Related

Cross-Reference:

ARP 6.85 – Staff Work Schedules

ARP 6.86 - Faculty Availability and Office Hours for Students

ARP 7.20 –Staff Overtime Pay or Comp Time



Revision History:

06/29/2020 Provisional Rule implemented by Chancellor

PART 1: PURPOSE


Precipitated in part by the global pandemic (COVID19) that altered the manner in which work was able to be performed throughout the NMSU system, this rule facilitates enhanced flexibility in working conditions by permitting alternative work arrangements (AWA).  The rule also supports Goal 4 of the NMSU LEADS 2025 Strategic Plan, Build a Robust University System.  Specifically, this rule promotes the ability to get work done most productively by balancing work requirements with the needs of university employees. This rule provides policy and procedural guidance for supervisors and employees who wish to explore either short or longer-term AWA, including telework, flextime, a staggered work schedule or compressed work week.

PART 2: DEFINITIONS


  1. Compressed Work Week: An AWA which condenses more than one standard work week into fewer days (such as a 4.5 work week, with four 9-hour days and one 4-hour day per week, or four 10-hour days with two days off per pay period).
  2. Flextime: An AWA that allows an employee to alter the start and/or end time of their workday. Employees must work the same number of hours as they would under their regular schedule.
  3. Short-Term Work Modification: An Ad Hoc (as needed) AWA, such as working from home during a short-term project, inclement weather or on the road during business travel. These arrangements are approved on an as-needed basis only for a limited time period.
  4. Staggered Work Schedule: A schedule in which employees arrive and depart workat different times in shifts. Shifts may be staggered anywhere from 15 minutes to two hours.
  5. Telework: An AWA in which an employee regularly performs work at a remote workplace (such as a home, library, or co-working space).
  6. Workplace: A workplace is the location where someone performs the work required by their job position. Such a place can range from a home office to a large office building, classroom or laboratory.

PART 3: AWA RULES


Work flexibility may be accomplished through alternative work arrangements (AWA), consistent with this rule, and any supplemental operating protocols (SOPs) issued by Human Resource Services. Generally, and absent extraordinary circumstances, participation in an AWA is voluntary in nature. An AWA is implemented when compatible with NMSU business interests, and at the discretion of management, and is not an employee right or benefit.

  1. Work Productivity through Work Flexibility: AWA is not designed to address family care needs (See ARP 8.45 – FMLA leave), nor to replace the interactive process for accommodating persons with disabilities (See ARP 3.40 – Process for Disability Accommodation; equity@nmsu.edu).  An AWA may be implemented if not incompatible with operational needs, which drive the supervisors’ decisions on AWA requests.  Non-work-related events and activities must not disrupt or interfere with work at any approved remote workplace. NMSU Human Resources staff is available to provide guidance as needed to supervisors as they review, process and implement AWA requests. (See Part 4, Procedures below)
  2. NMSU Policies and Departmental Work Rules Apply: The use of an AWA does not alter an individual’s employment relationship with the university, nor the employee’s obligation to honor the terms and conditions of employment, such as the employee’s position description, salary, benefits, vacation, leave and overtime rules, and compliance with applicable university and departmental policies, rules, procedures and other directives.
  3. Responsibility for Administration of AWA: Supervisors are responsible for monitoring and verifying employee performance, time and attendance. (See Part 4 E. and F. below.) The ultimate authority for AWA lies with the senior leadership (chancellor, vice chancellor, campus presidents, senior vice presidents, deans and vice presidents) who have the authority to determine how best to achieve the work that is required by their unit(s) and staff members, including where and when the work occurs.  They may delegate that authority to others (e.g. supervisors, etc.).
  4. Eligibility: Some job functions are capable of being performed remotely, including administrative functions, online teaching, training, and meetings. Other job functions must take place on campus; employees in positions with these job functions will not be eligible for telework, although they may be eligible for flextime, a staggered work schedule or a compressed work week.  When considering requests for AWA, supervisors will assess  whether or not the employee exhibit the following traits:
    1. excellent time management skills;
    2. strong written and verbal communication skills;
    3. works well with limited supervision;
    4. are present, responsive, available, connected, and productive; and
    5. a history of strong work performance (meeting or exceeding expectations)
  5. AWA During Declared Disasters or Emergencies: Conditions existing during a pandemic infectious disease outbreak or other declared emergency will justify a temporary imposition of employee teleworking.  Examples of such conditions include:
    1. Temporary closure of buildings on campus due to social-distancing mandates or shelter-in-place;
    2. Unavailability of childcare due to school or daycare closure.
    3. Heightened medical risk of harm to the employee, or to a member of the employee’s household, related to an exposure to infectious disease;
  6. Non-discrimination: Decisions on AWA requests and related issues will comply with applicable employment laws and will not discriminate on the basis of any protected class (See ARP 3.25).
  7. Performance of Job Duties while Subject to an AWA: Employees working pursuant to an AWA must continue to accomplish their regular job duties professionally, effectively and cooperatively.
    1. Employee will:
      1. check in with the supervisor to discuss status and open issues;
      2. be available for teleconferences, scheduled on an as-needed basis;
      3. be available to come into the office if a business need arises;
      4. Disallow business invitees at a home workplace used for telework (business and academic meetings and activities must occur at NMSU in a workplace suitable for the required meeting or activity);
      5. request supervisor’s approval in advance of working any overtime hours (if employee is non-exempt); and
      6. request supervisor approval to use vacation, sick, or other leave in the same manner as when working at employee’s regular NMSU workplace.
      7. remain accessible during the AWA work schedule;
    2. Supervisors are encouraged to support the AWA employee by:
      1. encouraging goal-setting and organizational planning
      2. giving appropriate and timely feedback
      3. incorporating the employee into daily workflows and meetings
      4. communicating AWA arrangements with their core team
      5. utilizing shared calendars
      6. managing by measuring results and outcomes
      7. trusting the employee’s ability to perform
  8. Equipment: Supervisors and employees should discuss any equipment or technology access the employee will need to telework. NMSU has no obligation to provide hardware for AWA arrangements. Employees must protect NMSU-owned equipment, records, and materials from unauthorized or accidental access, use, modification, destruction, or disclosure. In the event of equipment failure or service interruption, the employee must notify employer immediately to discuss alternate assignments or other options.
    1. AWA employees are expected to have:
      1. consistent availability by cellphone or landline; and
      2. fluency in Zoom, Microsoft Office 365 SharePoint, Teams, and other relevant software.
      3. consistent access to a laptop or desktop with high-speed internet;
  9. Data Security and Confidentiality: Employees working pursuant to an AWA must maintain the security and confidentiality of institutional data and comply with all software licensing agreements. Sensitive data should not be placed on a personal computer or device but instead should be accessed via secure technology and in accordance with NMSU data security protocols. Employees, along with their supervisors, should create formal plans for maintaining the security and confidentiality of university records while working remotely.
  10. Safety: Employees with an AWA are expected to maintain their remote workplace in a safe manner, free from safety hazards. Injuries sustained by the employee in a remote office location and in conjunction with the employee’s regular work duties are subject to the NMSU workers’ compensation policy (See ARP 8.72 – Workers’ Compensation Benefits and Other Assistance ), and subject to the requirement to notify their supervisor about on the job injuries as soon as practicable. The employee is liable for any injuries sustained by unauthorized visitors to the employee’s alternate workplace. (See Part 3 G. 1. e. above)  NMSU retains the right to make prearranged, on-site inspections of the alternate workplace during scheduled work hours.
  11. Periodic Assessment of AWA: The AWA arrangement should be evaluated by the supervisor on an ongoing basis to ensure that employee’s work quality, efficiency, and productivity are not compromised by the AWA arrangement described herein, and to determine whether the AWA should continue to remain in effect (See Part 4 G. below for Duration of AWA).

PART 4: AWA PROCEDURES


In addition to the basic procedures below, Human Resource Services may issue supplemental operational protocols (SOPs), including but not limited to instructions and forms. The SOP’s will be posted at https://hr.nmsu.edu.

  1. Requests for AWA: The AWA form is required for participation in the AWA program.  AWA requests should be submitted by employees to supervisors on this form. If the employee’s supervisor or other member of management is requesting or requiring an AWA, the AWA form will also be used to document the AWA.
  2. Supervisory Review:
    1. Upon receipt of an AWA request, the supervisor should review the rules above and assess operational needs and job compatibility with the proposed AWA. In addition to the factors listed under Eligibility above (See Part 3 D.), supervisors should consider feasibility as it relates to the work requirements or deadlines; University LEADS 2025 goals; and generally whether the work is capable of being accomplished pursuant to an AWA, without negatively impacting the performance of the employee’s unit.
    2. AWA requests will be evaluated by supervisors based on the individual circumstances presented by each employee’s position and job duties. For non-exempt employees, AWA will be implemented in accordance with Article 28, Section 1 of the collective bargaining agreement between NMSU and American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees Local 2393 and university administrative rules and procedures as may also apply.  Supervisors should document the basis/es supporting AWA decisions to facilitate consistency and fairness in their application of this rule.
  3. Approval Required: The proposed AWA and completed form, which may be an electronic workflow e-form, must be approved by the employee’s supervisor before implementation. Copies of the forms will be filed with the work unit and with the Human Resource Services Department.
  4. AWA Trial Period/Modification or Termination: If AWA is approved or otherwise implemented, it is recommended that the employee and supervisor establish a trial period and metrics to measure success of the AWA arrangement. At the conclusion of the trial period, the employee and supervisor should discuss whether or not a longer-term AWA will meet the operational needs.  Either the employee or the supervisor may suggest a modification, and either may terminate the AWA, unless it was imposed as a result of a declared pandemic or other official emergency.
  5. Timekeeping and Leave: AWA non-exempt employees are required to maintain accurate time records and supervisors are accountable for management of those records. All AWA employees (exempt and non-exempt) are expected to report to work as scheduled unless otherwise notified. Regular leave policies and procedures should be followed for employees who are unable to report to work (annual and/or sick leave should be used).  Pursuant to established NMSU policies, employees must obtain supervisory approval before taking leave.
  6. Authorization for Overtime (OT) and OT Reporting: In accordance with university policy (See ARP 7.20 – Staff Overtime Pay or Comp Time) and the university’s collective bargaining agreement, supervisors must authorize the working of hours by FLSA non-exempt employees that will exceed 40 in a work week.  FLSA non-exempt employees will be paid overtime or comp time at the overtime rate for hours worked in excess of forty (40) hours per workweek. Supervisors should apply effective management measures that ensure that non-exempt employees do not work during unauthorized time periods, and be mindful of the timing and communication to such employee via email and text messaging.  Employees in exempt (salaried) positions are exempt from overtime regulations.
  7. Duration of AWA: AWAs remain in effect until terminated, or through the end of the fiscal year.  The AWA may be renewed by completing a new AWA Form at the beginning of each new fiscal year (July 1). An AWA does not constitute an employment contract and does not create a property interest in employment.