1.0 Policy Purpose
This policy addresses Alternative Work Assignments (AWAs or “assignments”) for staff, which Brown University (the University) supports to create a common and standardized approach across the University. The University provides AWAs to support eligible employees' work-life balance and to enhance staff job performance and productivity. All AWAs must be in the University’s best interests and approved by the staff member’s manager and University Human Resources (UHR).
2.0 To Whom the Policy Applies
This policy applies to all non-faculty employees in graded and ungraded staff positions and all staff and faculty who approve AWAs, except where assignments are governed by collective bargaining agreements or in employee contracts. Bargaining unit staff should consult their collective bargaining agreement to review any flexibility provisions. If there is a conflict between the language in one of Brown’s union contracts and this AWA Policy, the union contract language shall prevail.
3.0 Policy Statement
Brown’s AWAs offer flexible alternatives to the University’s regular work schedule that allow the University to meet business and operational needs while at the same time providing greater work-life balance for staff. There are various AWAs that can be created based on job roles, department needs, and University objectives. The availability of AWAs varies by school, unit, and Position Classification (as defined in 3.1 below). The approval or denial of a request for an AWA is at the staff manager’s discretion, and the final approval is from UHR. All staff and managers to whom this policy applies must familiarize themselves with the associated responsibilities of approved AWAs, which can be found on the UHR website.
An AWA is defined as a discretionary agreement between Brown University and an employee in a staff position that may include modifications to work schedules, work locations, or other assignments that differ from the department’s usual operating standards and practices. Where applicable, the University encourages managers to permit reasonable adjustments to these established standards and practices, provided the University’s interests are achieved.
3.1 Position Classifications
All University staff positions are designated into one of the following three classifications:
Onsite Classification: Position duties and responsibilities primarily require staff to physically work at an office, job site, or a location on the Brown University campus and/or at Brown owned/leased/managed buildings. Staff in Onsite positions will not be eligible for Hybrid or Remote Work. With manager approval and based on the operational needs of the University, staff in positions with an Onsite Classification may request AWAs that alter the work schedule (e.g., Flexible or Compressed Workweeks).
Hybrid Eligible Classification: While some position duties are required to be performed on campus on a regular basis, a portion of the duties can be performed remotely in a non-University work location (e.g., staff member’s residence).
Remote Eligible Classification:All of the position duties can be performed remotely in a non-University work location (e.g., staff member’s residence).
- On occasion, some work may require onsite presence to handle work-related matters, including but not limited to, business continuity, emergency, or critical administrative/non-deferrable services or operations; regulatory site visits; and/or required in-person collaboration with other team members. Required onsite presence is at the discretion of the University, with every effort to provide as much notice as possible.
- The Remote Eligible Classification can only be designated in limited circumstances by schools, departments or administrative units that have been granted written approval by the President or their designee.
Staff in positions with either a Hybrid or Remote Eligible Classification may also request assignments that alter the work schedule (e.g., Flexible or Compressed Workweeks).
Job descriptions and/or postings will include the position classification, and UHR will maintain a list of positions that are ineligible for Hybrid Eligible or Remote Eligible Classifications. This list of positions may change at Brown’s discretion, and UHR reserves the right to identify other positions that are not eligible for Hybrid Eligible or Remote Eligible Classifications.
3.2 AWA Review Considerations for Onsite, Hybrid or Remote Work
The University recognizes that AWAs may not be suitable for every unit, job type or staff member. In particular, many types of staff positions require staff to physically report to work on a full-time basis or at regularly scheduled times as described in the Essential Positions Policy. UHR, in consultation with departments, will identify positions that must be Onsite.
Generally, the following conditions must be met to approve an AWA for Hybrid or Remote Work:
- The AWA request must be consistent with the assigned Position Classification.
- The AWA request for Hybrid or Remote Work must be from a state where Brown is registered to do business, as determined by the University, and prior approval to work from the requested state must have been received from UHR. For existing and new hire positions, departments will need to evaluate, in consultation with UHR the cost benefit and risk of hiring or relocating staff with a Hybrid or Remote Position Classification to/from states where Brown is not registered to do business.
- Hybrid or Remote Work will not have a negative impact on other employees and/or departments.
- The position allows for the staff member to be as effectively supervised and mentored remotely as they would be in-person at their assigned place of employment.
- The staff member’s duties, obligations, collaborations, and responsibilities will be unaffected by Hybrid or Remote Work.
- The staff member can maintain a safe work environment.
- The staff member has access to all necessary work equipment to perform their duties.
- The staff member can ensure confidential and private information remains confidential and private and secure from intrusion (both physical and electronic protections).
- For Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) compliance and payroll tracking purposes, partial or split days cannot be requested in an AWA.
In addition, for an AWA to be approved for an existing staff member, they must have:
- Received a minimum of an effective performance evaluation rating in the performance period immediately preceding the request and must remain in good standing while on an AWA.
- No active disciplinary actions on file for the current or immediately preceding period.
In all cases, AWAs are subject to approval from both the staff member’s manager and UHR. The total number of hours worked and productivity expectations remain the same. The existence of an AWA does not alter an individual’s employment relationship with Brown University or the staff member’s obligation to observe all applicable University rules, policies, and procedures. If granted an AWA, the staff member’s duties, responsibilities, and conditions of employment remain unchanged.
This AWA Policy is not intended to be utilized when alternative assignments are requested or granted as a Workplace Accommodation due to an employee’s physical or mental impairment, serious health condition, disability, or other circumstances that may be covered by the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) or the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). Staff requesting medical/family leave or qualified staff with disabilities should contact UHR for guidance.
Remote Work and/or exceptions to this policy may only be granted by the President or their designee. All exceptions must be requested and granted or denied in writing. An exception is ordinarily limited to the particular facts and circumstances giving rise to the request.
3.3 Salary, Benefits, Taxes and Workplace Safety
Salary and benefits remain unchanged while working on an approved AWA. Overtime compensation (for non-exempt staff), vacation, and sick leave will continue to be based on hours worked during the pay or accrual period throughout the AWA. Requests to work overtime or take vacation time, not including sick leave, must be pre-approved in writing by the staff member’s manager.
Staff members working in a Hybrid or Remote Work assignment may experience personal tax consequences. Staff working in these positions are responsible for all tax obligations that may result from Hybrid or Remote Work assignments outside of the State of Rhode Island. Staff are advised to consult with a professional tax advisor of their own choosing to assist with determining any additional personal tax obligations that may arise from their AWA.
To ensure the workplace safety of all staff, applicable workers’ compensation benefits are available for injuries or illness arising out of and in the course of employment. Staff members must report work-related injuries in their designated work area to their manager as soon as an injury occurs. Workers’ compensation will be applicable for injury or illness if the injury or illness arises out of and in the course of employment, whether the injury occurs at the regular work location or the designated and approved alternative work location. Claims will be analyzed on a case-by-case basis depending on the specific facts of each claim to determine if workers' compensation benefits apply.
Staff on an AWA with Hybrid or Remote Work traveling on business may or may not be compensated for travel time based on the provisions of the FLSA and other applicable laws. Staff with Hybrid Work assignment will not be reimbursed for commute or travel-related costs to or from their designated Brown onsite location and are not entitled to reimbursement for travel-related expenses to attend work meetings. Staff with Remote Work assignments may be entitled to reimbursement for travel-related expenses to attend work meetings.
3.4 Information Security
Staff members are responsible for preparing and creating a designated work area that is free from distractions and is secure and confidential, as appropriate for the type of work being performed. All University equipment remains the property of the University and must be returned immediately upon the conclusion of the AWA or if the staff member separates from employment. Brown University property, such as computers, printers, mobile devices, and other equipment provided to the employee, is the employee's responsibility while it is not on University premises.
Consistent with the University’s expectations of information security for employees working on campus, staff with a Hybrid or Remote Work Assignment will be expected to ensure the protection of proprietary information, Personal Identifiable Information and Protected Health Information accessible from their alternative work location. All devices storing or processing University data must be secured in accordance with Minimum Security Standards for Desktop, Laptop, Mobile and Other Endpoint Devices. Staff with a Hybrid or Remote Work Assignment are required to work with their IT support staff to ensure that their devices have current security software installed, are adequately backed up, and are up-to-date on all patches and policies.
AWAs are subject to periodic review and an annual approval by the staff member’s manager and UHR. When operational needs of the department require a change or cancellation to the AWA, written notice of at least 10 business days will be provided. If, at any time, the AWA is not in the best interests of the University, it can be discontinued at the University’s discretion.
3.6 Final Review of AWA Denial
Position Classifications are not subject to final review or appeal by a staff member. However, if a staff member disagrees with a denial of a request for a Hybrid or Remote Work AWA, or any other action relating to this policy, they are encouraged to first discuss the concern with their manager. If the discussion with the manager does not resolve the issue, the staff member may request an informal review of an AWA decision by the Senior Director of Employee and Labor Relations. If the staff member believes that the University’s decision is not in compliance with this policy and its related process, and/or is in violation of the law, the staff member may request a final review by the Vice President for Human Resources.
For the purpose of this policy, the terms below have the following definitions and supplement the definitions in Section 3.0 of this policy:
- Compressed Workweek:
A traditional 37.5-hour, five-day workweek that is lessened to fewer than five days of work.
- Flexible Work Schedule:
An alternative schedule that allows a staff member to work outside traditional hours based on staff needs within set parameters approved by a manager. Under a flex schedule, a staff member might be required to work a standard number of core hours within a specified period, allowing the staff member greater flexibility in starting and ending times. Examples include: adjusted arrival and departure times, Compressed Workweeks and Job-Share.
- Hybrid Work:
A partial work-off-site assignment where a staff member works for a part of the regular workweek on a regular basis from an alternative work location. Staff members with approved Hybrid Work assignments must work from an onsite Brown location at least two days per week.
- Remote Work:
An assignment in which a staff member performs work from a non-Brown University location without disruption to other staff and work productivity levels.
- Workplace Accommodation:
Any modification or adjustment to a job or work environment that enables a person with a disability to successfully perform the essential functions of a job, or to enjoy benefits and privileges of employment equal to those enjoyed by staff without disabilities. Examples of Workplace Accommodations may include, but are not limited to, acquiring or modifying equipment, improving accessibility to a work location, modifying the work schedule, or a leave of absence. Workplace Accommodations are a separate process from AWA requests.
All individuals to whom this policy applies are responsible for becoming familiar with and following this policy, as well as the responsibilities outlined on the UHR website. Individuals will have to attest to understanding their responsibilities at the time of submitting their AWA request in Workday. University managers and supervisors are responsible for promoting the understanding of this policy and for taking appropriate steps to help ensure compliance with it.
6.0 Consequences for Violating this Policy
Failure to comply with this and related policies is subject to disciplinary action, up to and including suspension without pay, or termination of employment or association with the University, in accordance with applicable disciplinary procedures.
Violations of this policy may include the revocation of an AWA or disciplinary action to a staff member or manager performing or allowing work to be performed in a role outside of the approved AWA position, not in furtherance of the University’s interests or work that is not on behalf of the University. The existence of an AWA does not alter a staff member's or manager’s employment relationship with Brown University or their obligation to observe all applicable University rules, policies, and procedures.
7.0 Related Information
This policy is not a legal document. This policy does not confer a term of employment, nor is the language intended to establish a contract of employment, express or implied, between any employee and Brown University. The University reserves the right to change, amend or terminate any of its human resources policies at any time for any reason.
Brown University is a community in which employees are encouraged to share workplace concerns with University leadership. Additionally, Brown’s Anonymous Reporting Hotline allows anonymous and confidential reporting on matters of concern online or by phone (877-318-9184).
The following information complements and supplements this document. The information is intended to help explain this policy and is not an all-inclusive list of policies, procedures, laws, and requirements.