POL-U5410.02 Managing Telework Arrangements

Dates and Approval

Effective Date:

May 1, 2024

Approval Date:

May 1, 2024

Approved by:

President Sabah Randhawa

Who does this policy apply to?

This policy in its entirety applies to all professional and classified staff including temporary and non-permanent here after referred through this policy as employees. Only Section 4 applies to faculty and are included as employees in Section 4 only.

When the policy conflicts with employee Collective Bargaining Agreements (CBAs) or Memorandums of Understandings (MOUs), the CBAs and MOUs will take precedence over this policy as long it does not cause legal violations for the University. When the CBAs or MOUs are silent regarding the specific requirements of this policy, the policy will take precedence as applicable.


Due to the pandemic, the nature of work has changed considerably. This policy reflects leadership’s effort to recognize the new work environment while supporting an in-person residential campus in Bellingham as well as Western’s satellite campuses.

While recognizing the importance of public facing positions, this policy provides the opportunity for exceptions to on-site workstations through telework arrangements to meet certain interests including, but not limited to:

  • Maintaining an organizational culture that supports employee flexibility and mobility,
  • Promoting a positive work/life integration,
  • Enhancing employee productivity and satisfaction,
  • Reducing our impact on the environment and supporting the Washington Clean Air Act, and
  • Addressing space restrictions.


Alternate Workstation

For the purpose of this policy, an alternate workstation is the location where a hybrid or remote employee performs their work (e.g., an employee’s home office) most of the time as an alternative to where they would normally be assigned to work absent a Telework Arrangement.

Official Residence

For this policy, an employee’s official residence is the city, town, or unincorporated area where an employee maintains a residence that is used as their primary domicile. Determinations by the University regarding an employee's official residence are based on items such as, but not limited to, voter registration, proof of ownership, or long-term rental of a personal residence, and the permanent address carried in the employee's personnel file.

Official Workstation

For the purpose of this policy, employees without a telework arrangement, their Official Workstation is the WWU on-site location where their position is typically expected to be performed (i.e., assigned office or facility). For remote workers it is their Alternate Workstation regardless of occasional WWU on-site visits. For hybrid workers and Ad Hoc teleworkers, their Official Workstation is the WWU on-site location where the employee would normally work absent a hybrid work or Ad Hoc arrangement.

Telework Agreement

A written agreement that documents the work arrangement and describes the terms and conditions of an employee’s telework arrangement.

Telework Arrangement

This is a broad umbrella term used to define a work arrangement in which some or all work is performed from a location other than a WWU on-site location. The different types of telework arrangements include:

  1. Remote: When the duties of a position are performed remotely at an Alternate Workstation on a full-time basis but may require occasional onsite reporting. The remote location is the employee’s official workstation.
  2. Hybrid: When the duties of a position are performed partly at a WWU onsite location and partly at an Alternate Worksite on a regular basis. 
  3. Ad-Hoc: These are positions that are predominantly onsite at a WWU location, but occasionally will work remotely on as-needed basis.

Unit Authority

A position that reports directly to an Associate or Assistant Vice President, Vice Provost, Vice President, or to the President.

Policy Statements

1. Associate Vice President for Human Resources Oversees Telework Program

The Associate Vice President for Human Resources, under the purview of the Vice President for Business and Financial Affairs, is responsible for implementing this policy and overseeing an employee telework program that includes approval processes for telework requests and supervisor resources to effectively manage telework arrangements.

2. Telework Arrangements are Approved at the Discretion of a Unit Authority

Telework arrangements may be made for a position:

  1. At the request of an employee, or
  2. Required by a Unit Authority in order to meet business and operational needs, and 
  3. In accordance with applicable CBAs or Employee Handbooks

Employee requests must be documented through a Telework Request and Agreement eForm approved by the Unit Authority. This approval authority may not be further delegated. However, a Unit Authority may:

  1. Have their directors, managers, and/or supervisors assess and make an initial recommendation for employee positions under their purview, and
  2. Review all requests with the management team to assist in assessing the impact on the department as a whole, other departments and the University, quality of service, and options (including cross-training) to mitigate impact.

Exception: Annual renewals of telework agreements only require the approval of the employee's immediate a supervisor. See Section 19 regarding annual reviews.

Unit authorities may require which days an employee works remotely to effectively maintain operations and manage multiple telework requests.

The option for a telework arrangement does not confer a legal right or entitlement to such an arrangement. Unit Authorities reserve the right to modify or withdraw previously approved telework agreements on a permanent or temporary basis due to operations, staffing, or employee performance. Modifications or withdrawing an agreement in response to employee performance must be done in accordance with Section 15 of this policy. Making decisions about workplace arrangements as a form of retaliation is strictly prohibited. 

3. Position Must be Eligible for Telework

When evaluating a position for telework, the following, at a minimum, should be considered using the Telework Feasibility Worksheet:

  • If the position is public facing,
  • The essential requirements of the position as listed in an employee’s job description,
  • Current staffing levels,
  • Impact on the duties of other positions (including those outside the department),
  • Impact on the fundamental nature of a position or quality of service,
  • Impact on student services and support, and
  • The ability to adequately provide a supportive and productive work environment that attracts and retains employees.

Prior to making a determination on telework eligibility, supervisors must ensure positions descriptions under their purview are up to date so they can be appropriately evaluated.

Employees not meeting satisfactory performance expectations may not be eligible for teleworking.

4. Remote Work is Limited to Washington State and Canadian Residents

The University recognizes the advantages of out-of-state teleworking, including the increased opportunities to diversify the workforce. However, at this time due to resource and operational constraints in adhering to diverse and complex state labor and tax regulations, approval for telework arrangements may only be approved for employees, including new hires, who maintain or will relocate to an Official Residence within Washington State or Canada. Given that Canada does not impose tax obligations on US employers, Western is able to employ individuals residing in any Canadian province.

A supervisor may permit an employee to work out of state to attend to a personal situation but the out of state work is not to exceed 30 calendar days. If the need goes beyond 30 days, the employee must request the use of appropriate leave for which they may be eligible.

A limited number of employees approved to work out of state prior to implementation of this policy will be granted an exception and managed individually. Employment contracts will not be renewed for those who will remain out of state at the conclusion of their contract.

5. Employees are Responsible for Providing a Bona Fide Official Residence

Employees are responsible for providing Human Resources with their bona fide Official Residence. Official Residences will be maintained as the employee’s “W-2/Employee Permanent” mailing address in Western’s Web4U system.

Employees are required to update their “W-2/Employee Permanent” address via Web4U within 30 days following a change in their Official Residence. Employees are also responsible for verifying the accuracy of their W-2/Employee Permanent mailing address via Web4U.

Human Resources reserves the right to request documentation, as allowed by state rules, to validate an Official Residence.

6. Office Space is Not Guaranteed

To efficiently manage University space, Unit Authorities may:

  1. Prioritize individually assigned enclosed or other office space for those working on-site 60% or more of a pay period, and
  2. Assign shared workspace or unassigned touchdown space (workstation, cubicle, or office) for employees working less than 60% of a pay period on-site on a regular basis.

Department heads must notify Space Administration of all changes to office space assignments, including cubicle assignments.

Office assignments to individuals and units are based on need and availability in accordance with University priorities. Offices vacated due to remote work arrangements can be reallocated within or among units. If space is subsequently needed, the University will endeavor to meet the need as available in accordance with the Administering Institutional Space Policy.

7. Employees and Supervisors Must Follow Timekeeping Requirements

Employees and supervisors are required to comply with all applicable timekeeping and overtime regulations defined by state or federal law (e.g., the Fair Labor Standards Act), collective bargaining agreements, Professional Staff Program, civil service rules, and University policy, standards, and procedures. See Timekeeping Guidance. If an employee is not performing their duties during work hours, employees must report the appropriate leave.

8. Teleworkers are Expected to Work During Suspended Operations and Inclement Weather

In accordance with the Suspending University Operations Policy, employees with telework arrangements are expected to work during suspended operations for events that do not exceed 15 calendar days and during inclement weather. 

If the teleworker is unable to work from their Alternate Workstation due to uncontrollable circumstances (e.g., power outage, or need to care for their children), the employee must take leave in accordance with the applicable policy, employee handbook or bargaining unit agreement. 

See also the Inclement Weather Policy, and collective bargaining unit agreements.

9. Equipment Needs Should be Adequately Addressed Prior to Approving Telework

A Unit Authority should prioritize safety and consistency when reviewing equipment and technology needs to support telework arrangements. Equipment may be purchased with University funds to support the approved arrangement, however, equipment provided by the University is to support the employee’s Alternate Workstation.

Equipment includes, but is not limited to:

  1. IT equipment (laptops, monitors, docking stations) and
  2. Necessary accessories (e.g., mouse, laptop riser, headsets, webcams, keyboards).

The department is responsible for the costs related to the maintenance, shipping, and transportation of University-owned equipment and a teleworker is responsible for the service and maintenance of their self-purchased equipment. The University assumes no responsibility for the teleworker's expenses related to internet service, utilities, security, insurance, or use of their Alternate Workstation.

Departments are to work with IT staff to ensure employees have the proper technology, including computers and peripherals, for their individual telework arrangements. Purchasing portable equipment e.g, laptops with docking stations should be a priority to ensure business continuity in the event of unforeseen suspended operations, inclement weather, or pandemic restrictions. 

10. Data Security and Privacy Requirements for Teleworkers Must be Followed

The nature of teleworking increases risks for data security and privacy, therefore, both department heads and employees are responsible for following the Standards for Managing Data Security and Privacy When Teleworking and implementing any specific protocols stated in their Telework Agreement.

11. Teleworkers Must Comply with Records Retention Requirements

University records, including records handled or created while teleworking, are subject to public record statutes even such records are created with a persona device or phone.

Employees must comply with the Managing University Records Policies including applicable retention schedules and return all University records when terminating employment with the University or their department.

12. Employees Expected to Maintain Safe Alternate Worksites

Financial managers are responsible for tracking University property and are to require all teleworkers to complete the Remote Work Equipment Agreement so:

  1. University property can be tracked, and
  2. Employees are informed of their responsibility to return University property prior to terminating employment with their department or in accordance with arrangements approved by the financial manager.

Employees with University property at their Alternate Workstation must cooperate in a timely manner with required inventory procedures when notified. See also Managing and Safeguarding University Assets Policy.

13. Employees Expected to Maintain Safe Alternate Workstations

Employees are responsible for maintaining a safe work environment at their Alternate Workstation. See Tips for Working from Home Safely. Questions about safety and ergonomics should be directed to the Environmental Health and Safety department.

Worker's Compensation Covers Job Related Injuries Only

Employees are covered by Workers’ Compensation for job-related injuries that occur in the course and scope of employment while teleworking. Workers’ compensation does not apply to an employee’s or third-party’s non-job-related injuries that occur at an employee’s Alternate Workstation.

15. Requests for Telework Due to Disability, Family or Medical Leave Must be Referred to Human Resources

All requests from an employee to telework due to a disability or serious health condition that would likely result in a period of incapacity of more than three (3) consecutive calendar days and require ongoing treatment by a health care provider must be referred to the Medical Leaves and Accommodations Administrator in Human Resources.

Examples of a serious health condition are defined by state and federal law. Other instances may include personal of family medical situations such as illness, injury, or surgical recovery. After consulting with the employee and their supervisor (and Unit Authority when necessary), Human Resources will determine the employee’s eligibility for an accommodation.

See also the Accommodating Persons with Disabilities Policy and the Taking Family or Medical Leave Policy.

16. Performance Expectations Remain the Same Regardless of Telework Arrangements

Supervisors must consistently apply employee performance expectations and performance review processes regardless of telework arrangements. If performance declines below satisfactory levels while teleworking, supervisors will first work with employees to address performance issues including identifying any barriers related to telework.

If steps taken are unsuccessful, Unit Authorities are to work with Human Resources to take steps to modify or revoke the telework arrangement.

17. Management Must Treat Remote Employees Similarly to Non-Remote Employees

Similar treatment includes, but is not limited to, work assignments, professional development, department communications, awards and recognition, and promotional opportunities.

18. Employees and Supervisors Must Adhere to University Policies Regardless of Telework Arrangements

Regardless of work location, all employees are expected to adhere to all departmental and institutional policies including, but not limited to, policies regarding IT security and privacy, work schedules, use of University resources, ethics, performance, leave use, and reporting work hours.

19. Travel Expenses are Reimbursable Under Certain Circumstances

Travel expenses between an employee's Alternate Workstation and a WWU on-site location is only reimbursable if eligible per the Standards for Reimbursing Teleworkers for Travel. Travel reimbursements to attend work-related activities away from the Alternate Workstation is to be provided in accordance with the Traveling for University Business Policy and applicable state rules.

An employee's regular commute time (the time it takes to travel between the Official Residence and Official Workstation for Travel Reimbursement) is not compensable. If an employee is directed to report to a WWU on-site location, the supervisor must notify the employee to report to the WWU on-site location no later than the end of the employee's work shift. If the notification is not provided within this timeframe, the employee's time to commute may be compensable. See SAAM 25.45.10.

20. Telework Arrangements Must be Reviewed at Least Annually

Telework arrangements must be reviewed and approved by the supervisor at least annually during an employee’s performance evaluation. The Telework Agreement must be renewed even if there are no changes to the agreement. The purpose of this is to:

  1. Reconfirm the terms and conditions of the agreement and address any performance issues identified through the performance review,
  2. Ensure new supervisors review and approve telework arrangements under their purview,
  3. Align with any new legal or policy requirements, and
  4. Review the condition and location of University provided equipment and update the Remote Work Equipment Agreement as needed.

21. Required Workplace Posters Will be made Accessible to Teleworkers

Teleworkers may access Western's workplace posters via Required Employment Notices website.