POL-U5410.02 Managing Telework Arrangements

Dates and Approval

Who does this policy apply to?

This policy applies to all professional and classified staff including temporary and non-permanent staff. Although faculty do not have "telework agreements", all sections of this of this policy except 2, 3, 7 and 19 (which relates to telework agreements and timekeeping) apply to faculty who have approved remote teaching schedules. 

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 Worksite

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

Official Residence

For the purpose of 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 to be 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 Worksite 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 Worksite 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 Worksite 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 on-site location and partly at an Alternate Worksite on a regular basis. 
  3. Ad Hoc: These are positions that are predominantly on-site location and partly at an Alternate Worksite on a regular basis.
  4. 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.

Employee requests must be documented through a Telework Agreement. 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.

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. 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

At this time, remote work arrangements may only be approved for employees, including new hires, who maintain an Official Residence within Washington State or Canada. 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.

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 office space for those working on-site full time, and
  2. Assign shared workspace for employees working less than 3 days per week on-site on a regular basis.

Space Administration must be notified of all changes to office spaces assignment's including cubicles. 

The long-term impact of remote work arrangements on office space availability should be considered. For example, if an office is reassigned because the employee is not fully remote but later wants to return to WWU on-site location or later replaced with a new employee who wants to work on site, there is no guarantee to the employee or the department that the direct office space will be provided.

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

Employees with telework arrangements are expected to work during suspended operations for events that do not exceed 15 calendar days and inclement weather. This also applies to hybrid and ad hoc teleworkers on days they are scheduled to work at their official WWU workstation.

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

See the Suspending University Operations Policy, 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 Worksite.

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, use of their Alternate Worksite.

Business continuity as well as data privacy and security must remain a priority when selecting equipment. See Section 10 below regarding equipment requirements for teleworkers who access confidential data. 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, 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. Financial Manager to Ensure University Property is Tracked and Returned

Financial managers are responsible for tracking University property and are to require all teleworkers to complete the Telework 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.

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

12. Employees Expected to Maintain Safe Alternate Worksites

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

13. 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 Worksite.

14. 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 personal or family medical situations, or pregnancy or parental bonding must be referred to the Disability Administrator in Human Resources who will make a determination after consulting with the employee and their supervisor (and Unit Authority when necessary). Such requests must be reviewed by Human Resources to ensure compliance with state and federal laws.

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

15. 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.

16. 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.

17. 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.

18. Travel Expenses are Reimbursable Under Certain Circumstances

Travel expenses between an employee’s Alternate Worksite 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 Worksite 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 previous work shift. If the notification is not provided within this timeframe, the employee's time to commute may be compensable.

19. Telework Arrangements Must be Reviewed at Least Annually

Telework arrangements must be reviewed 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,
  2. Align with any new legal or policy requirements, and
  3. Review the condition and location of University provided equipment and update the Telework Equipment Agreement as needed.

Policy Information