Telecommuting Guidelines

Telecommuting POLICY

Policy Updated: 11/30/2017

This policy and the agreement template are focused on employees regularly working from home, one type of alternative work environment. This policy and the agreement form can be used for guidance for employees and managers in defining other alternative work arrangements as well.

Description

City of Saint Paul employees telecommute or "telework" when, on a regularly scheduled basis they fulfill the responsibilities of their job at a site other than a City location. The City considers telecommuting to be a viable work option that can be implemented at the discretion of Department or Office management. Telecommuting, when appropriately applied, may benefit both the City and the employee. To telecommute, a City employee and supervisor shall enter a written Telecommuting Agreement. The City of Saint Paul is committed to providing its employees with the opportunity to telework where such arrangements can be designed to benefit both the City and the employee while maintaining or improving City operations and service delivery. Teleworking may be offered to employees when a department head determines that it can be effectively utilized.

Considerations

  • Telecommuting is a cooperative arrangement that is employed if it is mutually beneficial to the City and the employee. It is not an entitlement, and should be based on:
    • The needs of the job, work group, and City
    • The employee's past and present levels of performance
    • The business benefit to the City as confirmed by management in its approval of Telecommuting Agreement
  • Not all positions or work assignments may be appropriate for telecommuting. No employee is entitled or guaranteed the opportunity to telework.
  • Telecommuting is a tool allowing for flexibility in work options, which may be agreed upon by the City. Clearly defined tasks and deliverables typically characterize jobs suitable for telecommuting.
  • Telecommuting may be considered as part of an employee's reasonable accommodation as defined by ADA, depending on business requirements of the position and the City.
  • Telecommuting is not a substitute for caretaking such as dependent or elder care.

Benefits

Employer Benefits:

  • Increases employee commitment, engagement, morale and productivity
  • Reduces absenteeism
  • Enhances recruitment
  • Improves retention
  • Potential to reduce facilities costs

Employee Benefits:

  • Enhances quality of life
  • Improves morale
  • Saves time otherwise spent commuting
  • Greater productivity
  • Saves money on gas and parking

Benefits to the Community and Environment:

  • Reduces rush hour work trips which contribute to traffic congestion, accidents, etc.
  • Reduces gas used, greenhouse gas emissions and wear and tear on streets, highways and freeways
  • Improves air quality
  • Promotes energy conservation
  • Potential to expand hours of operation and service delivery

Wages & Benefits

  • Telecommuting does not change the terms and conditions of employment as a City employee.
  • A Telecommuter's salary, job responsibilities, benefits and insurance do not change as a result of telecommuting.
  • State Worker's Compensation Laws and applicable City policies and procedures governing such matters shall apply to telecommuters.

Scheduling

  • The work schedule for telecommuters will depend on the type of work performed, the needs of the department and the employee's personal situation. Nevertheless, some employees may be expected to work some hours each week at the central work site.
  • The Telecommuter's supervisor must agree and approve individual schedules for on-site and off-site work hours.
  • Customers and other staff should not be adversely affected by a telecommuting schedule. If telecommuting creates adverse effects, the city and the telecommuter shall work to eliminate them. The City retains the right to end the Telecommuting Agreement if the adverse effects continue.

Accessibility

  • Telecommuters will be as accessible as their on-site counterparts during their agreed upon scheduled work hours, and reachable through electronic means, regardless of their work location.
  • City meetings, including meetings with customers, may be conducted off-site, but not in an employee's residence.
  • Telecommuters are expected to attend on-site meetings related to the performance of their jobs, as necessary.

Worksite

  • Telecommuters who work off-site shall have a designated workspace agreed to by the City and maintained by the employee. This designated workspace shall be subject to City visits, upon request, to ensure that safe and ergonomically sound work conditions exist. The telecommuter will be responsible for absorbing any costs related to remodeling and initial set-up (e.g., furniture) of the designated workspace.
  • Employees shall agree to carry personal liability insurance (homeowners if appropriate) for at least the minimum amount, as specified by the City in the Telecommuting Agreement.
  • Tax implications, if applicable, of home work-sites are the sole responsibility of the employee.

Equipment & Security

  • Telecommuters who work off-site shall take all precautions necessary and are responsible for securing and safely maintaining information, documents and equipment off-site and in route to a remote location to prevent unauthorized access or damage to any City system, equipment or information.
  • The City shall provide required supplies and tools to a telecommuting employee for successful performance of assigned duties. City-owned equipment that is agreed to be provided for off-site use remains the property of the City. Because equipment needs for telecommuters may vary, the responsibility for providing and supporting the equipment will be defined and agreed to in the Telecommuting Agreement.
  • The Telecommuting Agreement may provide for use of City-owned equipment, employee-owned equipment or both. Regardless of whose equipment is being used, it must conform to City standards for security, technical support and maintenance.
  • In case of City or employee-owned equipment malfunction, which hampers a telecommuter's ability to complete assigned duties, the employee must promptly notify their supervisor. If the malfunction precludes or severely restricts an employee from performing work assignments, the employee may be assigned another project or be required to move to an appropriate work location.
  • The City and employee may agree to employee's working off-site on a limited or occasional basis. While this policy is not intended to restrict this practice, any such occasional or informal arrangements that may impact or involve City software, systems or hardware shall conform to all City technical and security standards.
  • Telecommuting funding by the City shall be discretionary and specified in the Telecommuting Agreement. The costs of telecommuting including but not limited to initial set-up; software and hardware; assembly/set-up costs, modem and on-going costs such as monthly telephone and internet lines may be assumed by either the employee or the department, or shared by employee and department. Uniformity within a department is recommended whenever possible.
  • The City shall be responsible for insuring City equipment used by the telecommuter.
  • Department heads (or their designees) may authorize teleworking as a means of accomplishing business objectives. Authorizations for teleworking shall be approved in a manner that protects the assets of the City of Saint Paul and its employees to the maximum possible extent.

Documentation & Review

  • Telecommuters and their supervisors shall jointly prepare and sign an agreement that may be terminated at any time by either the City or the employee. This Agreement does not create a contract of employment with the City, and the telecommuter is subject to regular work rules.
  • All telecommuting agreements should be scanned into the employee’s personnel file.

Contacts

Initial inquiries should be directed to your department’s Human Resources Liaison. If further assistance is needed see the contact information below:

  • Human Resources (HR) – 651-266-6500
  • Office of Technology and Communication (OTC) – 651-266-6767