Alternative Work Arrangement Policy for Staff Positions
The Vanderbilt University School of Medicine Basic Sciences (VBS) confirms its commitment to assisting employees in developing work-life integration by supporting the use of alternative work arrangements when reasonable and practical.
VBS permits the use of alternative work arrangements when such arrangements are pre-approved, assist in meeting full operational needs and/or job requirements, and continue to maintain a high level of service for the school and university constituents.
Any regular, full-time staff employee may submit a request for an Alternative Work Arrangement to their supervisor. To be considered for an AWA, employees should be meeting workplace expectations and not currently be under any disciplinary action. AWA requests will be reviewed based on the operational and business needs of the employee’s work unit.
When evaluating an alternative work request, business or work units should consider specific position requirements, needs of the team, any existing performance concerns, and whether the staff member can optimally perform the position’s job duties while working off campus.
TYPES OF ALTERNATIVE WORK ARRANGEMENTS
Flextime is an arrangement that allows eligible employees to work hours that may differ from others in the unit or school. The staff member should work with their manager to determine the workday starting and ending times and ensure sufficient work unit or team coverage. Flextime requires that an employee work the core hours identified by the department or work unit. For non-exempt employees, it must include a bona fide meal period and cannot exceed 40 hours for any workweek (without prior approval), even if the other week of the pay period has fewer hours.
Compressed work schedules
A compressed work schedule allows eligible employees to work a full week’s schedule in less than five working days. The most common example is an employee working four 10-hour days in a workweek and not working on the fifth day.
A hybrid/remote work arrangement allows eligible employees to work from an alternative work location, such as their home, for up to three days (or the equivalent of 24 hours) of the regular workweek. Business or work units are responsible for determining if positions are eligible to be hybrid/remote based on their operational and business needs. It is an arrangement that may be appropriate for some employees in some positions when a job, employee, and supervisors are best suited to such an arrangement. Job performance must not be negatively impacted by working in a remote location. The employee also must be willing to adjust their hybrid/remote work schedule as needed, for example, being present on campus at the office/department when necessary, such as to attend meetings, training sessions, or similar events or occurrences. All requirements, procedures, and expectations for technology use must be discussed and agreed upon in advance of a hybrid/remote work schedule. Staff working remotely are required to ensure the protection of university information according to Vanderbilt’s policies and expectations of information security. The cost of internet services or other required technologies, supplies, and equipment for remote work is the employee’s responsibility. Staff members are also responsible for compliance with any tax implications of a remote workspace.
An AWA is not a right of employment. It is established at the discretion of the employee’s manager and the designated approvers and may be subject to change at their discretion. When considering an employee’s request for an AWA, managers should assess the employee’s job performance and attendance, the ability to work independently, the nature of the work to be performed, and the impact of such arrangement on the department or work unit.
AWAs are subject to periodic review and approval by the manager. When operational needs of the department or work unit require a change or cancellation to the assignment, notice of at least 10 business days will be provided, unless it is for alleged misconduct or an emergency, in which case, it may be terminated immediately. If at any time the AWA is not in the best interests of VBS, it can be discontinued at VBS’s discretion.
REQUESTING AN ALTERNATIVE WORK ARRANGEMENT
- The employee requests an AWA by first speaking with their manager about expectations, schedules, and responsibilities.
- The employee and supervisor, with the assistance of their Human Capital Management specialist, will evaluate the suitability of such an arrangement and complete the AWA Agreement Form.
- The request is reviewed and approved by the unit head (Department Chair, Associate Dean, Center or Program Director, or Pod Leader) and Chief Business Officer.
- The employee completes an attestation of the VBS policy via Oracle.
- A copy of the executed AWA Agreement and policy attestation is sent to the HCM specialist for placement in the personnel file.
- The AWA Agreement should be communicated to appropriate colleagues.
AWA Agreement Forms should be submitted and approved before the AWA start date*. An AWA Agreement Form for Flextime is only required when an employee deviates from the standard 8:00 A.M.–5:00 P.M. core work schedule for a significant amount of time. Significant deviations are defined as falling outside the established core hours for more than four hours in a workday.
*Already-existing AWAs should be documented with an AWA Agreement, and are otherwise subject to review, change, and discontinuance consistent with the parameters set in this policy.
The AWA Agreement will document expectations for work assignments, check-ins, and any other parameters related to supporting the use of an AWA, including:
- Frequency and type(s) of required in-person meetings
- Frequency of “check-in” meetings with immediate supervisor
- Responsiveness expectations (e.g., via email, telephone, Skype, Microsoft Teams, or other communication platforms)
- Other communication expectations with team members, internal stakeholders, external contacts, etc.
- Availability and hours expectations
- Core hours during which all or most employees are required to work in person
- Areas of focus during remote work
- Confirmation that the AWA is subject to change
The AWA Agreement is subject to ongoing and periodic review. At minimum, the agreement should be assessed at six-month intervals to ensure that the individual’s quality of work, efficiency, and productivity are not compromised by the alternative work arrangement. These assessments should be saved as part of the employee’s personnel file. In addition, the employee should continue to receive regular performance evaluations in accordance with business or work unit policies. Subsequent renewal of the agreement will be contingent upon the annual review/feedback and progress towards goals.
Any proposed exceptions from this policy must be approved in advance by the dean.
An AWA for 100% remote work is considered when remote work is a condition of employment. This requirement should be included when the position is advertised and in correspondence offering employment. Staff members working from out of state, including internationally, may be subject to additional wage, employment, reporting, and taxation requirements. Business or work units may incur additional costs related to the employment of out-of-state and international staff and must work proactively with HR when considering hiring someone who lives outside of Tennessee or permitting a staff member to move outside of Tennessee and work remotely. These types of arrangements that will result in 100% remote work must be pre-approved by the dean.
Unless explicitly agreed to in writing, a remote or hybrid staff member’s terms and conditions of employment are the same as those of on-campus staff, including required compliance with all university policies and applicable federal and state law while working off campus.
- Regardless of work location, staff members are required to comply with Vanderbilt’s Hours of Work policy and procedures for Paid Time Off.
- Employees who are not exempt from the overtime requirements of the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) will be required to accurately record all hours worked using Vanderbilt University’s Oracle system. Hours worked in excess of those scheduled per day and per workweek require the advance approval of the employee’s supervisor.
- Failure to comply with this requirement may result in the immediate termination of the alternative work agreement.
Disability and other accommodations
Staff member requests for remote and/or hybrid work as an accommodation related to their own medical condition or sincerely held religious beliefs are handled through the accommodation process, which is managed by Equal Opportunity Access Office.
Working with family members at home
Staff members should not use hybrid and remote work as a substitute for dependent care.
Consequences of non-compliance
Violation of this policy may result in disciplinary action, up to and including termination of employment.
VBS adheres to Vanderbilt’s established employment policies. In cases where VBS guidelines differ from university policy, it is expected that the more restrictive policy takes precedence.
If necessary, contact your HCM specialist with questions.
Basic Sciences – Hybrid/remote work request
Basic Sciences – Flextime/compressed time request
Vanderbilt – Remote and Hybrid Toolkit
Vanderbilt – Remote and Hybrid Work Policy for Staff
Vanderbilt – Hours of Work Policy
EFFECTIVE DATE: September 1, 2021
(Note: employees who are required to be in a lab or employees who have student-facing roles may be required to return to campus sooner. Please consult with your supervisor about AWA options for your specific role.)
Last revised: August 5, 2021