1.0 Policy Purpose
Brown’s Alternative Work Assignments (AWAs) offer innovative approaches to meeting the University’s operational needs while promoting balance between work and personal life for its staff. Depending on the needs of the department, AWAs may be a beneficial alternative to the University’s regular work schedule that allows the University to meet business needs while providing greater workplace flexibility. There are various alternative work assignments that can be created due to job roles, department needs, and University objectives. This policy addresses alternative work assignments, which Brown University supports to create a common and standardized approach across the University. All AWAs must be in the University’s best interests.
2.0 To Whom the Policy Applies
This policy applies to all staff employees except where assignments are governed by collective bargaining agreements.
3.0 Policy Statement
An Alternative Work Assignment (AWA) is a discretionary agreement between Brown University and an employee that may include modifications to a work schedule, work location, and other arrangements that differ from a department’s usual operating standards and practices. Where applicable, Brown University encourages supervisors to permit reasonable adjustment to these established standards and practices where the University’s interests are achieved.
The University also recognizes that AWAs may not be suitable for every job. In particular, many types of positions require employees to physically report to work on a full-time basis or at regularly scheduled times as described in the Essential Positions policy. All Brown University staff positions are classified into the following three categories:
- Onsite: The job duties cannot physically be performed remotely and are required to be performed on campus. Staff in positions with this classification will not be eligible for remote or hybrid work assignments. With supervisor’s approval and based on the operational needs of the University, employees in these jobs may request flexible/compressed work week arrangements provided such arrangements do not lead to overtime pay.
- Hybrid eligible: While most job duties are required to be performed on campus, a portion can be performed remotely. Generally, work can be done off-site without loss of productivity, but some work requires onsite presence and/or in-person collaboration with other team members.
- Remote eligible: All job duties of the position can be performed remotely in a non-Brown University work location (e.g., employee’s residence) without disruption to other staff and work productivity levels. It is expected that remote eligible work may be available in cases where such arrangements meet the operational needs of the University.
Both hybrid and remote eligible work can also include arrangements that alter the work schedule, e.g., compressed work weeks and flexible arrival and departure times.
University Human Resources (UHR), in consultation with departments, will identify positions that must be onsite. Job descriptions and/or postings will include the above AWA classifications and UHR will maintain a list of non-eligible remote work positions. This list of positions may change at Brown’s discretion, and UHR reserves the right to identify other positions that are not eligible for AWAs.
Brown University may provide AWAs in order to support employees' work-life balance, to enhance employees’ job performance and productivity, and must benefit University operations. Supervisors, in consultation with UHR, will analyze the nature of a position and how the work is performed and determine which positions are appropriate to designate or approve for remote/hybrid work. Several factors should be considered in determining the feasibility of remote/hybrid work, including, but not limited to the following:
- The position has job functions that can be performed at a remote site without diminishing the quality of the work or disrupting the productivity of a unit and the University.
- Performance can be measured by quantitative or qualitative results-oriented standards.
- The position can be effectively supervised remotely.
- The position has a minimal or flexible need for specialized materials or equipment available only at the regularly assigned Brown University work location (this includes interaction with colleagues, supervisors, clients, and external parties, such as vendors).
- The position either does not have job functions that require in-person interaction, or these interactions can be scheduled for specific days.
- Collaborations and teamwork in the same office locations are not necessary for the overall functioning of the work unit.
- The confidentiality and privacy of the work being performed is not at risk of being compromised if performed in a non-Brown University work location (whether electronically, physically or otherwise). Additional assessment will be conducted when the employee is working with personally identifiable information (“PII”) or personal health information (“PHI”).
If an employee in an eligible position requests approval for remote or hybrid work, the supervisor, in consultation with UHR, will determine whether the employee is eligible. Generally, the following conditions must be met to approve an employee for an AWA:
- The position does not require an employee’s presence at the regularly assigned place of employment on a daily or routine basis.
- Remote and/or hybrid work will not have a negative impact on other employees and/or departments.
- The position allows for the employee to be as effectively supervised and mentored remotely as they would be in person at their assigned place of employment.
- Employee’s duties, obligations, collaborations, and responsibilities will be unaffected by working remotely.
- Employee has received an overall “effective” or higher performance evaluation immediately preceding the request. (The employee must maintain this rating).
- Employee has no active disciplinary actions on file for the current or immediately preceding period.
- The employee can maintain a safe work environment.
- Employee has access to all necessary work equipment to perform their duties.
- Employee can ensure confidential and private information remains confidential and private and secure from intrusion (both physical and electronic protections).
- In case of a new hire for a position classified as entirely remote in the job posting, departments will need to evaluate the cost benefit and risk of hiring employees from states where Brown is not registered for business.
In all cases, AWAs are subject to both supervisor and UHR approval. The total number of hours worked and expected to maintain productivity remains the same. The existence of an AWA does not alter an individual’s employment relationship with Brown University or the employee'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. The employee must be available by phone and/or email at the approved times and days of week.
This AWA policy is not intended to be utilized when alternative arrangements are requested or granted as an 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). Employees requesting medical/family leave should contact UHR for guidance. Qualified employees with disabilities requesting to work remotely as a reasonable accommodation under the ADA should contact the University Human Resources’ workplace accommodation partner, who will undertake an interactive process to determine if the requested accommodation is reasonable.
3.1 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 during the AWA. Requests to work overtime, request vacation, except for sick leave, must be pre-approved in writing by the employee’s supervisor.
There may be personal tax implications for employees who have an AWA. Hybrid or Remote Working employees are responsible for all tax consequences that may occur as a result of hybrid or remote work. Employees are advised to consult with a professional tax advisor. The employee is 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 employee separates from employment.
To ensure the workplace safety of all employees, workers’ compensation benefits are available for injuries or illness arising out of and in the course of employment in accordance with workers’ compensation laws. Staff members must report work-related injuries to their supervisor 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 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.
Employees on an AWA who have a hybrid schedule or a fully remote schedule travelling on business may or may not be compensated for travel time based on the provisions of the Fair Labor Standards Act. In addition, individuals on a hybrid schedule will not be reimbursed for commute or travel related costs to or from their designated Brown onsite location.
3.2 Information Security
Brown University property such as computers, printers, mobile devices, and other equipment provided to an 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, remote and hybrid employees will be expected to ensure the protection of proprietary information, PII and PHI 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. Remote and hybrid employees 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.
AWA assignments are subject to periodic review and approval by the supervisor. When operational needs of the department require a change or cancellation to the assignment, notice of at least 10 business days will be provided, unless the position was advertised and filled as fully remote. If at any time the AWA is not in the best interests of the University, it can be discontinued at the University’s discretion.
An employee who disagrees with a denial of a request for a remote or hybrid work assignment or any other action relating to this policy is encouraged to first discuss the concern with their supervisor. If the discussion with the supervisor does not resolve the issue, an employee may request an informal review of an AWA decision by the Senior Director of Employee and Labor Relations. If an employee believes that the University's decision is not in compliance with the AWA policy and its related process, and/or is in violation of the law, the employee may request a formal appeal to the Vice President for UHR.
For the purpose of this policy, the terms below have the following definitions:
- Alternative Work Assignments (AWA):
A mutual work agreement between a supervisor and a staff member that allows for a work assignment that is different from the department's regular work schedule and regular operations and maintains staffing coverage within a department.
- Compressed Workweek:
A traditional 37.5-hour workweek that is lessened to fewer than five days of work.
Position duties and responsibilities primarily require the employee to physically work at an office, job site, or a location on Brown University campus and/or owned/leased/managed buildings.
- Hybrid Work Arrangement:
A partial work-off-site assignment where an employee works for a part of the regular workweek on a regular basis from an alternative work location. Employees with approved hybrid arrangements must work from a Brown location at least 2 days per week unless the operational needs of the department require otherwise. All hybrid arrangements when an employee is regularly working in a non-Brown workspace must receive prior review and approval from their supervisor and UHR. The employee must have a thorough knowledge and understanding of the job functions and, if applicable, the equipment required to work from a location outside of their principal Brown University work location.
- Remote Work:
An arrangement in which an employee performs work full time from a non-Brown University location without disruption to other staff and work productivity levels.
All individuals to whom this policy applies are responsible for becoming familiar with and following this policy. University supervisors are responsible for promoting the understanding of this policy and for taking appropriate steps to help ensure compliance with it.
5.1 Employee Responsibilities
- The employee is responsible for submitting an AWA request to their supervisor.
- The employee must communicate with their supervisor to ensure they are meeting expectations and regularly evaluate the assignment with their supervisor and implement agreed upon work assignment changes.
- The employee must discuss with the supervisor any equipment needs and verify access to internet and phone service.
- All job responsibilities and conditions of employment are applicable while an employee is working on an approved AWA.
- Employees on AWAs are expected to follow established Brown University policies, procedures, and guidelines, including maintaining a regular workload during the AWA.
- Employees must certify in Workday that any Remote Work environment is safe and meets the same safety standards that are applied to on-campus work locations.
- Unless directed by the University as a condition of employment, an employee is responsible for expenses arising out of an approved alternative work assignment, or as required by law.
- An employee who has a hybrid or remote assignment is not entitled to reimbursement for travel to attend work meetings.
5.2 Supervisor Responsibilities
- Supervisors must complete a training on the AWA policy and the management process.
- The supervisor is responsible for consulting with UHR to assess position descriptions for their eligibility for an AWA.
- The supervisor must review all AWAs and either approve, return or deny each request in Workday and provide the employee with information and rationale for the decision.
- If an AWA is agreed upon, supervisors must clearly communicate defined tasks and expectations, measure performance through results, productivity, and conduct and provide regular feedback on work performance.
- Supervisors should work collaboratively with the employee and address problems and/or known challenges before approving an AWA.
- Supervisors are responsible for reviewing AWAs on a case-by-case basis by evaluating the individual’s performance, responsibilities and work style while remaining focused on the benefits derived by supporting an AWA.
- Supervisors must review workplace needs and the AWA on a regular basis and retain discretion to discontinue assignments that are no longer in the best interest of the department and/or University.
5.3 UHR Responsibilities
- In collaboration with department supervisors, UHR will review Remote Work and Hybrid Work Arrangement alternative work assignments and issue final approval in accordance with the criteria and considerations set forth in this Policy and applicable procedures.
- UHR will be available to hear and address employee concerns, and review appeals.
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 (e.g., staff, faculty) disciplinary procedures.
Violations to this policy may include the revocation of an AWA or disciplinary action to an employee found to be performing work in another position, not in furtherance of the University’s interests or managing work that is not on behalf of the University. The existence of an AWA does not alter an individual staff member's employment relationship with Brown University or the employee's 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.