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Frequently Asked Questions: Alternative Work Arrangement

Q: What is an alternative work arrangement?

A: Alternative work arrangements are work arrangements that include flexible work schedules, job sharing of one position between several staff members and having a regular work location at a place other than a campus work site.


Q: Will a flexible work schedule allow me to determine my schedule at the beginning of my workday?

A: No. Work schedules are set in advance and are determined by the business needs of the work group. Once the schedules are defined and communicated to staff, a staff member who wishes to deviate from that schedule must do so in writing and receive his/her supervisors approval.


Q: What is job sharing?

A: Job sharing involves two or more staff members working a portion of a 1.0 full-time equivalent position.


Q: If I am a part-time staff member, am I involved in job sharing?

A: Yes. In a way part-time staff currently are sharing some portion of a 1.0 full-time equivalent position. In the past, we have only identified them as part-time staff members, but those staff members are also considered to be job sharing.


Q: As a job share staff member, am I eligible for benefits?

A: Benefit eligibility is based on the percentage of a staff member's full-time status. Vacation time, holiday time and sick time accruals are prorated based upon the amount of FTE equivalent each job share member maintains.


Q: Are job share members eligible for medical benefits?

A: Currently, to be eligible for medical benefit coverage, staff must work a minimum of 30 hours per week and be considered full-time. Job share staff who do not regularly work a minimum of 30 hours per week are not eligible for medical benefit coverage.


Q: Does anything happen when one of the parties working a portion of a job sharing position terminates?

A: If one job share member terminates the arrangement, the supervisor will evaluate the position for continuing the job share arrangement.


Q: If I am in a job share arrangement and am regularly scheduled for 20 hours per week, one week I am asked to work 25 hours, will I receive overtime pay for the 5 additional hours that I work?

A: No. While you have worked 5 additional hours, you will not be eligible to receive overtime unless you work beyond 40 hours in a pay week.


Q: What is telecommuting?

A: Telecommuting is a work arrangement that allows the staff member to regularly fulfill his/her primary job responsibility at a location other than his/her Vanderbilt work site, such as at home.


Q: Who reviews telecommuting arrangements?

A: The Administrator for the work area approves telecommuting arrangements. Telecommuting arrangements are also reviewed by the department's Human Resources Consultant  for consistency and tracking.


Q: What types of positions are considered for telecommuting opportunities?

A: Job characteristics of a position suited for telecommuting typically require minimum supervision or face-to-face contact. Those jobs have clearly defined measurable deliverables such as word processing, editing, data entry, coding and other tasks of this nature.


Q: If a position has been approved for telecommuting, is every person in that position immediately authorized to telecommute?

A: No. A position may be suited for telecommuting however, staff members suited for telecommuting are self-disciplined, self-motivated, require little supervision and are comfortable working alone. The option to approve this type of arrangement rests with the administrator for the area and is reviewed by the department's Human Resources Consultant for consistency and tracking.


Q: If I am approved for a telecommuting arrangement, will I be required to come into the office?

A: Telecommuting staff should maintain daily contact by telephone and email with his/her department. Whenever possible, weekly face-to-face check-ins should be arranged to discuss work progress.


Q: Can I utilize telecommuting and work from home when I am sick?

A: No. The option to telecommute is not decided on a day-by-day basis by a staff member. It is a regularly scheduled approved alternative work arrangement. If a staff member is ill and is unable to come in to work and does not have a pre-approved telecommuting work site, then the staff member will need to use the reporting off procedure established within his/her work unit.

Q:If I am on FMLA, may I work from home to extend my available leave time?

A: No. Staff who are on FMLA and unable to report to work may not perform work at home in order to extend his/her available leave time. Remember, staff who have been approved for FMLA leave will not be available for work until he/she is released by the treating physician or in the case of caring for an ill family member, until the approved leave time has been met and is no longer needed.


Q:If my treating physician determines that I should temporarily work from home and not come in to the office, will this be an approved telecommuting arrangement?

A: No. However, temporary alternatives for work arrangements will be evaluated based on the unit needs on a case-by-case basis under our ADA parameters.


Q: Who is responsible for establishing my home as an alternative work site?

A: Telecommuters who work from home are responsible for having a designated work area. Telecommuters who require home adjustments are responsible for any costs related to remodeling and the initial setup of that designated workspace.


Q: Can I deduct my home office as a business expense on my taxes?

A: If you are considering tax implications if working from home, it is recommended that you consult with a tax expert.


Q: Who pays for the equipment in my home?

A: Vanderbilt will not provide telecommuting equipment unless it is justified based on the needs of the department. The decision as to type, nature, function and/or quality of electronic hardware, modems, system access, data and phone lines rest entirely with the supervisor in coordination with the appropriate central computing support department.


Q: Is Vanderbilt responsible for my personal equipment when I use it for work purposes?

A: No. Staff using personal equipment are responsible for any loss, damage or wear to that equipment.


Q: What happens if I am a telecommuter and am too ill to work at home?

A: Telecommuter should follow their department call-in procedures and utilize the appropriate accrual bank when reporting your time worked and time not worked.


Q: What should staff do if they have a work-related accident, injury, or illness which occurs at a telecommuting work-site?

A: A telecommuter who suffers a work related accident, injury or illness should make a report immediately to the staff member's supervisor so that a first report of injury can be reported and an investigation into the incident can begin.


Q: Do Vanderbilt policies apply to telecommuters working at remote sites?

A: Yes. Vanderbilt policies and procedures apply to all alternative work arrangements.


Q: If I work from home and am required to come to campus for a meeting, can I count that as business travel?

A: No. Establishing a remote work location in a telecommuters' home does not make the telecommuter's regular commute to the primary work location a business trip.


Q: As a non-exempt staff member who has been approved to work at a remote location, will I need to get approval from my supervisor to work beyond 40 hours a week?

A: Yes. Nonexempt staff will usually work a 40-hour workweek to ensure the successful completion of the job. However, any overtime work must be pre-authorized by the supervisor and reported as hours worked.


Q: Once a job has been approved as viable as an alternative work arrangement, is it always approved?

A: No. These arrangements do not change the basic terms and conditions of the staff member's employment, nor are they guaranteed to any staff member for any specific time. These arrangements are evaluated by the department and goal expectations are set and monitored. These expectations must be reached regardless of your work location.


Q: Under what conditions will an alternative work arrangement be discontinued?

A: If at anytime alternative work arrangements do not meet the needs of the institution they can be discontinued at the discretion of the department.


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