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Flexible Work Arrangement FAQs

GENERAL INQUIRIES

What is FlexWork@RU?

FlexWork@RU is a pilot program to expand the current flexible work arrangement offerings available to employees from September 1, 2022 through August 31, 2023. The FlexWork@RU System is the online application system for employees to enter their flexible work arrangement after they have completed a Department Needs Assessment and Team Agreement with their Department Head or designee. The system will be available on or about July 20, 2022, once all training and information sessions have taken place.

What is a Flexible Work Arrangement?

A flexible work arrangement consists of a schedule that differs from an employee’s standard workweek. Options include, but are not limited to ad hoc, flex workday schedule, compressed workweek, and hybrid. In rare circumstances, the university may also consider fully remote work arrangements. Please view the flexible work arrangements policy for additional details and definitions.

Who is eligible for a flexible work arrangement?

Under the FlexWork@RU pilot program, non-aligned, regularly appointed staff may be eligible for a flexible work arrangement. Please note, the new version of Policy 60.3.22: Flexible Work Arrangements for Regularly Appointed Staff will be relaxed and will apply to all staff (including both aligned and nonaligned) for the pilot program period beginning 9/1/22 and ending on 8/31/23. For non-exempt staff, supervisors must ensure that appropriate breaks are taken, that all hours worked are reflected as time worked, and that overtime has advance approval by the supervisor.

In the meantime, the current version of Policy 60.3.22: Alternate Work Arrangements and Telecommuting for Regularly Appointed Staff remains in effect and has been relaxed through 8/31/22.

Does this policy apply to faculty?

Faculty members work in a different fashion from their staff colleagues. Discussions will need to take place between chancellors, provosts, deans, chairs, center/institute unit directors, and faculty about the best way to navigate the full breadth of faculty commitments while still meeting the needs of our students and other trainees for an in-person learning environment.

Can part-time employees participate in flexible work arrangements?

Yes. Policy 60.3.22 also applies to part-time employees. For those participating in a compressed workweek or flex workday arrangement, hours per workweek will be prorated according to the employee’s part-time percentage.

Can student workers apply for a flexible work arrangement?

Although Policy 60.3.22 does not apply to student workers, Department Heads and Supervisors may consider flexible work arrangements as appropriate. If a flexible work arrangement is agreed to, such agreement should be formalized in writing. These arrangements should not be entered into the Flexwork@RU System

What if I do not work on campus? Does the 3-day minimum still apply?

Working "on campus" a minimum of 3 days is defined as working at “any on- or off-campus property that is owned, occupied, leased, or used by Rutgers University at which the employee is regularly assigned to attend work. This includes all research sites and all leased indoor and outdoor spaces or spaces occupied with a user permit, license, or contract for the conduct of university business.”

Will Rutgers offer flexible work arrangements on a permanent basis?

At this time, the university is offering flexible work arrangements through FlexWork@RU as a pilot program from September 1, 2022 through August 31, 2023. During the year-long pilot, we will send out quarterly pulse surveys and other mechanisms to determine the effectiveness of the program, the impact on mission-critical services, and how flexible work arrangements effect our host communities.

Can employees participate in multiple flexible work arrangements?

Compressed Workweek schedules are available only to those employees with fully in-person schedules and cannot be combined with any other flexible work arrangement type. Flex Workday schedules provide for non-work periods in a workday and extending the amount of the workday while working only the same number of hours in the day. This type of flexible work arrangement may be combined with a hybrid work arrangement if it better supports the service population. Visit the pilot program guidelines to learn more about the different flexible work arrangement types.

Are flexible work arrangements available to newly hired staff?

Yes. New staff hired into positions that may be eligible for flexible work arrangements should complete a flexible work agreement in the Flexwork@RU System before the staff member begins working in a flexible work arrangement.

Are there specific procedures that need to be followed to implement a flexible work arrangement?

Yes. Please view the FlexWork@RU Pilot Program Guidelines for instructions on how to implement a flexible work arrangement.

How are decisions made about eligibility for a flexible work arrangement?

Flexible work arrangements are possible for some, not all, jobs. Each new or modified flexible work arrangement is evaluated objectively and fairly to ensure a fair, consistent, and equitable process. Decisions are based on business needs including services provided, operations, position requirements, and department culture along with the impact on employee well-being. Requests for flexible work arrangements are not automatically granted.

In all instances, consideration and approval of remote work arrangements must reflect a focus on mission, service to our students and patients, impact on the communities within which we operate, and a shared responsibility to provide an engaging, vibrant, and connected university experience for our students.

How does an employee submit a flexible work arrangement for consideration?

All flexible work arrangement applications for the FY23 pilot program must be submitted in the FlexWork@RU System by August 15, 2022.

  • Supervisors must review applications in the Flexwork@RU System and provide a determination prior to September 1, 2022.
  • Department Heads review Compressed workweek, Flex workday, and Hybrid (1-2 days remote) applications.
  • Cabinet Officers review Hybrid (3-4 days remote) applications.
  • UHR reviews fully remote and/or out-of-state applications.
How does the September 1st deadline for entering and approving flexible work arrangement applications impact 10-month employees who are not working during July and August?

The Department Needs Assessment and Team Agreement meeting should be incorporated into training and onboarding processes before the employee commences their employment with Rutgers.

If an employee is currently in a flexible work arrangement, is it necessary to formalize it through this process?

Yes. All flexible work arrangements must conform to updated Rutgers Policy 60.3.22 and be formalized utilizing the procedures outlined in the FlexWork@RU Pilot Program Guidelines.

How long will a flexible working arrangement be in place after the agreement is reached?

The flexible working arrangement is effective for the duration of the FlexWork@RU pilot program. If the flexible work arrangement pilot program is approved beyond FY23, the application and approval timelines noted above, will be adjusted accordingly. Moving forward, formal reviews should take place in June of each year for renewal and/or modifications effective September 1 of each year. The supervisor and staff member must include regular reviews of the arrangement to decide what is working and what needs to be improved or enhanced. Each agreement should have a start and end or renewal date.

What if an employee disagrees about their position’s eligibility for or denial of a flexible work arrangement?

If a flexible work arrangement request cannot be supported given the results of the Department Needs Assessment and Teams Agreement, an employee may still submit the request into the Flexwork@RU System. The employee must attest to understanding the department operational needs, wants to submit a request based on specific circumstances, and provides supporting details for the request in the Flexwork@RU System. Department Heads will need to review the application and make a determination if the flexible work arrangement can be supported based on the additional details provided by the employee.

Disability accommodation requests are handled through the Office of Employment Equity in University Human Resources.

Available leave options can be discussed with OneSource.

Can a supervisor terminate or amend a flexible work arrangement?

Yes. The university reserves the right and discretion to determine, approve, modify, or revoke at any time a flexible work arrangement. Typically, modifications will be provided with 14 calendar days’ notice. This can occur based on a number of reasons such as when an immediate/unanticipated operational need arises or the job functions are required to address an emergency or other urgent matter, staffing changes, leadership changes, performance deficiencies, etc. (See FlexWork@RU Pilot Program Guidelines for more detail.

Can a request for a flexible work arrangement for the same position but in different departments or schools be handled differently?

Yes. Since each role, job functions, and situation are different, it cannot be assumed that the same decision with respect to a flexible work arrangement is appropriate for two similar positions in different departments or schools. Supervisors know the operations of their departments best and are responsible for decisions on how to get the work accomplished.

Can I change my flexible work arrangement?

Approved flexible work arrangements cannot be modified at this time. If your application has not yet been reviewed or approved, you may withdraw the application and resubmit upon consultation and agreement with your supervisor. A new application must be entered and approved in the FlexWork@RU System.

How often can a person change their flexible work arrangement?

That depends on a number of factors including the type of flexible work arrangement, operational needs, the success of the current agreement, etc. Flexible work arrangements must be made in the Flexwork@RU System if the modified schedule will last for 4 weeks or more or if any of the following are applicable:

  • your supervisor/department leadership changes
  • your role/responsibilities change
  • the needs of your department have changed
Can employees apply for or be assigned to a Flexible Work Arrangement to work remotely outside of New Jersey?

Employees assigned Flexible Work Arrangements must live in NJ, NY, PA, or DE and be within a commutable distance of the university.

Fully remote work arrangements may only be considered under extraordinary circumstances for a period not to exceed one year with the potential for yearly renewals based upon circumstances.

Can staff apply for or be assigned to a Flexible Work Arrangement to work remotely outside of the United States?

No. Rutgers staff are not permitted to have Flexible Work Arrangements to work remotely in other countries.

Will the university provide flexibility for families with childcare needs and/or care of other individuals?

Remote/hybrid work arrangements are not a substitution for childcare or dependent care. On September 1, Rutgers will launch a new caregiver support pilot program. Additional details will be available later this summer.

Although remote or hybrid work is not a substitute for childcare/dependent care, supervisors should consider options that provide employees with the flexibility to meet intermittent childcare/dependent care needs such as during illness, snow days, etc.

The university has also partnered with care.com to provide employees with discounted childcare options. To learn more, visit the Rutgers Benefits website.

How do we handle employee requests for disability accommodations in a flexible work arrangement?

Disability accommodation requests are handled through the Office of Employment Equity in University Human Resources.

Will the university reimburse parking fees for those employees working in a flexible work arrangement?

Participation in a flexible work arrangement during the pilot program will not affect an employee’s access to on-campus parking; therefore, parking fees remain the same at this time.

Will Rutgers offer any flexible work arrangements for frontline and essential employees?

As part of the FlexWork@RU pilot program, the university offers a variety of flexible work options for employees including compressed workweeks and flex workdays that may be appropriate to consider for frontline and/or essential employees. For more information, visit the FlexWork@RU Pilot Program Guidelines website.

FAQs for EMPLOYEE Approved for Flexible Work Arrangements

What is expected from me when I am working remotely?

Employees are expected to satisfactorily perform the functions of their position regardless of their work location. View the Expectations for Remote Work website.

What do I do if my flexible work arrangement is not working out?

If an employee does not think the flexible work arrangement is working, they should promptly talk to their supervisor to discuss possible modifications to their original agreement. Such requests do require approval by a direct supervisor. Any approved modifications to a flexible work arrangement shall be made in the Flexwork@RU System.

Will the university provide me with equipment and supplies to work remotely?

The university will supply IT equipment and office supplies, at its discretion, only for the employee’s primary work location, be it on-campus or remote. The university will not reimburse employees for out-of-pocket expenses for materials and supplies that are normally available at their regular work location. You are expected to provide any other non-portable equipment you may need or prefer such as office furniture, phones, supplemental monitors, printers, scanners, and internet connectivity. The university does not assume responsibility for operating costs, home maintenance, or other costs incurred by employees in the use of their homes or alternate work locations.

What happens if I have connection issues while working remotely?

If an employee experiences internet, phone, or power outages, they should contact their supervisor as soon as possible. The supervisor will work with the staff member to determine what work, if any, can still be performed during the outage. If work cannot be performed, the staff member will be expected to charge vacation or other paid time off or work from an on-campus work location. In addition, if these types of problems persist, the supervisor may revisit the flexible work arrangement to determine if the staff member’s alternate work location is suitable for continued remote work.

How does this policy impact employees who accepted a job offer for a fully remote position at Rutgers and live out-of-state?

Please contact the Office of Workplace Culture if an employee has accepted an offer for a fully remote position at Rutgers and/or lives outside of NJ, NY, PA and DE, prior to the implementation of revised Policy 60.3.22 Flexible Work Arrangements. Under the revised policy, employees must live in NJ, NY, PA, or DE and be within a commutable distance of the university.

What happens to my flexible work arrangement if I transfer to another department and/or get a new position?

Flexible work arrangements do not carry over to your new department or position. You and your new supervisor should discuss the situation and determine if your current flexible work arrangement is appropriate for the new position and department. The employee will need to submit a formal request for the flexible work arrangement in the new position/department.

FAQs for DEPARTMENT HEAD/SUPERVISOR

What resources are available to help supervisors make decisions with respect to flexible work arrangements?

In addition, Organizational and Talent Development within University Human Resources has developed resources to help supervisors and employees navigate flexible work arrangements.

How should a supervisor handle a situation where it may be appropriate to approve one staff member’s request for a flexible work arrangement and deny the request of another?

All decisions should be focused on the alignment of departmental business needs, in addition to the alignment with Rutgers’ flexible work arrangement policy and guidelines. A consistent approach to analyzing each request should be applied. It is important that the supervisor communicate with the requestor the reasons for the denial.

How will staff members’ performance be evaluated while working remote?

Supervisors will evaluate staff members’ performance in the same manner as they would if they were onsite. Supervisors should communicate clear expectations, setting goals, and reviewing outcomes. Supervisors should consult with Organizational and Talent Development in the Office of University Human Resources if they need assistance. Additional resources can be found at https://uhr.rutgers.edu/organizational-and-talent-development/home.

If flexible work arrangements are available to all staff members in a department, how will supervisors handle all of the requests and ensure adequate coverage while addressing perceptions of fairness/equity?

Part of the process for making determinations regarding flexible work arrangements includes completion of a Department Needs Assessment and Teams Agreement to set expectations and guarantee availability, accessibility and timeliness. These agreements require ongoing conversation with your team that considers business needs, individual needs, the needs of the team broadly, and how the needs of the population(s) you serve are best met. They lead to transparent discussions and help ensure that staff members are treated equitably.

Can flexible work arrangements be used for a limited time to meet fluctuating work demands, such as the need for expanded hours during high volume periods, or to allow for more flexibility when the demands of work are less?

Yes. It may be useful for a department to have flex workday schedules during the beginning of a semester or high-volume period to accommodate special demands. For example, some staff members could have the opportunity to schedule work time from 9:00 a.m.-12:00 p.m., with a three-hour non-work period, followed by work time from 3:00 p.m. to 7:30 p.m.

At the end of the specified time frame, traditional hours may be resumed. Likewise, some offices/units may choose to offer compressed work schedules during slower time periods, with longer mid-week hours and early departure on Fridays or late arrivals Monday. After a certain period of time, this arrangement may no longer be appropriate for the demands of the office/unit and traditional work hours could be resumed.

Flexible work arrangements lasting up to four weeks, need to be entered and approved in the FlexWork@RU System. It is very important to ensure the community members served are made aware of the modified hours of operation and websites are updated accordingly.

Can I post a position as eligible for remote work to increase recruitment efforts?

Yes. Effective August 1, 2022, after completing a Feasibility Assessment for Vacant Positions, hiring managers may initiate a job posting through ROCS and select if the position is eligible for a flexible work arrangement or if it is fully on-site. The posting will advise that this is a part of a pilot program through August 31, 2023. Additional details will be shared with ROCS users prior to implementation.

The operational needs of my department have changed; as a result, I need to make changes to my employee’s previously established flexible work arrangement. What do I need to do?

The Department Needs Assessment and Team Agreement should be part of an ongoing discussion to ensure that previously established flexible work arrangements continue to meet the needs of the department. After communicating the new expectations to your employee, you should guide your employee to initiate a new flexible work arrangement application in the FlexWork@RU System. Changes to existing flexible work arrangements should be communicated to the employee with 14 calendar days’ notice.

PAID TIME OFF/PAYROLL ISSUES

How do flexible work arrangements affect the accrual rate for vacation, sick leave, and other paid time off?

No adjustment is necessary as long as the regular hours worked remains the same.

How does a compressed workweek impact how employees charge PTO?

The number of hours represented by a holiday or paid time off (PTO) day are based on the amount of hours in a “traditional” day of work for the position being considered. If due to the compressed workweek arrangement the length of the employee’s workday is greater than the value of the holiday or paid leave day, the difference must be charged to another form of time or leave without pay.

How do flexible work arrangements affect overtime pay for non-exempt employees?

All flexible work arrangements must comply with FLSA regulations and timekeeping requirements. Overtime work for non-exempt employees must be pre-approved by the supervisor. The standard hours for work in a workweek are set forth in University Policy 60.3.14, University Policy 60.9.27, and/or the appropriate collective negotiations agreements.

How do I address an employee who participates in a flexible work arrangement and uses paid time off only on days they are scheduled to be in the office?

Paid time off must be approved by the supervisor and scheduled in advance. If an employee frequently requests to use paid time off on the days they are scheduled to be in the office, it is at the supervisor’s discretion to deny such request.

If a paid holiday falls on a day an employee is not normally scheduled to work due to a compressed work schedule, can the staff member take off one of their regularly scheduled days that week?

Under Rutgers Policy 60.3.11, when an observed holiday falls on an employee's regular day off, as might happen for employees who work on rotating shifts, he or she is entitled to an alternate day off within the same University workweek. For employees working a compressed workweek, the observed holiday is for the number of hours of their traditional work schedule (i.e., 7 hours, 7.5 hours, or 8 hours). The employee must charge the remaining balance to cover the difference of the compressed workweek schedule to PTO.

What if a staff member is ill when scheduled to work remotely?

If illness prevents an employee from working whether on-site or remotely, they will be expected to take appropriate leave (sick, vacation, or other paid time off), and shall follow the normal process within their unit to report time off.

Can a staff member work remotely while traveling on vacation?

No. Vacation and paid time off are opportunities for individuals to rest and recharge. If an individual is working then they are not on vacation or other paid time off. If the staff member is required to work during scheduled vacation time, the staff member should work with their time keeper to adjust their absence record accordingly.

Can an employee work remotely while on an approved leave?

If an employee is on an approved continuous leave of absence, no work can be performed. If the approved leave is intermittent, the employee may work remotely on the days they are not taking leave.

Additional Help

Who can I contact for additional information regarding flexible work arrangements?

Employees may submit questions online through the future of work questions and suggestions form.

Administrators and HR Liaisons may contact their consulting or generalist teams.

Who can I contact for additional information regarding the future of work or flexible work arrangements?

Employees, including department heads and supervisors, Employees may submit questions online through the future of work questions form. You will be prompted to login to the system using your NetID and password.

Administrators and HR Liaisons may contact their consulting or generalist teams.

As an employee submitting an inquiry for myself, the system requires me to enter the name of my supervisor. Does this mean my supervisor will receive a copy of my inquiry?

No. Your supervisor will not receive a system-generated copy of your submission; however, based on the nature of your inquiry, University Human Resources may need to contact your supervisor for additional information to determine the appropriate response and resolution.

How does a supervisor submit a general request for assistance or an inquiry that pertains to their team/department?

When submitting an inquiry as a department head or supervisor, the system requires the department head or supervisor to enter the name of the employee to whom the inquiry applies. If your inquiry does not apply to a particular employee, the supervisor may enter their own name in the “Please select your employee’s name” field in order to proceed.