Section: Human Resources
The University of Houston-Victoria (UHV) realizes its employees are its most important resource. In recognition of this, the university offers Alternative Work Arrangements (AWA) to eligible staff (not including faculty). AWA are a variation in where a job is performed (e.g., telecommuting) and/or the time the work is performed (e.g., alternate schedule). UHV permits AWAs so long as they are in the best interest of the University, will maintain the productivity of the employee, and follow University rules, procedures, and policies.
The purpose of this document is to describe UHV’s policy and procedure for AWAs in accordance with Texas Government Code, § 658.010 and § 659.018. This policy supports federal law, state of Texas regulations and UH System policies.
Management is responsible for the enforcement of this policy and for ensuring that decisions regarding work locations, schedules and privileges are fair and equitable. No policy or procedure shall be used to discriminate against any individual or group because of age, race, color, disability, religion, national origin, veteran’s status, genetic information, sex (including pregnancy), sexual orientation, gender identity or status, or gender expression, except where such distinction is required by law.
Benefits of Program to the Employee
- Flexibility to meet family needs, personal obligations, or other responsibilities
- An increased feeling of personal control over schedule and work environment
- Ability to work at times when the employee can accomplish most, feel freshest or enjoys working (e.g., “a morning person”)
- Reduces job burnout
- Can shorten commuting time and lower fuel costs
Benefits of Program to the University
- Increased employee morale, engagement, and commitment to the job
- Reduced absenteeism and tardiness
- Recruiting incentive
- Reduces turnover of valued staff
- Can extend hours of operation for departments and customer service hours
- Develops an image as an employer of choice who offers alternative work schedules and/or locations
AWA must be implemented in a manner that ensures that services to students, the public, and other university departments are not negatively affected. Supervisors and administrative are not eligible. Staff classified as eligible for remote, or hybrid can only elect one the of the two: alternative work location or the alternative work schedule. Alternative Work Arrangement Agreement must be submitted every year by August 31 for the beginning of each fiscal year. Additionally, supervisors can consider seasonal option.
Not all positions can be adapted to AWA and participation is voluntary. As operational needs change, the department head has authority to adjust work schedules and/or locations accordingly. Alternative work schedules and/or locations require mutual responsibility and trust between employee and employer.
Employees must be responsible for adhering to their work arrangements; flexible when events require adjustments and accommodative to management when co-worker duties need to be covered. Similarly, directors, managers, and supervisors are encouraged to be flexible, reasonable, and consistent in accommodating AWA requests.
Alternative Work Arrangements (AWA) Agreement
An executed written agreement setting forth the terms of the agreed upon alternate work location and/or schedule.
Alternative Work Locations
Approved work locations other than the employee’s Regularly Assigned Place of Employment where official University business is performed. Such locations may include, but are not limited to, employee’s home and satellite offices. All work locations must be disclosed and approved as part of the Alternative Work Arrangement (AWA) Agreement. All work locations must be in the State of Texas and must be close enough (2.5 hours or 100 miles is the recommend standard) to the University campus so, if necessary, the employee can be physically present at their Regularly Assigned Place of Employment on the same day as needed.
Alternative Work Schedules
A modified work schedule with variable arrival, departure and/or lunch times. It is typically designed to enable employees to come in earlier or leave later than the organization's normal hours of operation. This approach enables the department to ensure necessary office coverage, customer service, and staff interactions are maintained during normal hours. Alternative Work Schedules require approval as designated by the AWA Agreement.
The scheduling of a traditional 40-hour work week into fewer than five full days by adjusting the number of hours worked per day. An example of a compressed schedule is working four ten-hour days with one full day off each week. A Compressed Workweek requires approval as designated by the AWA Agreement.
Hours of Operation
State law as cited within Texas Government Code Chapter § 658.005, defines normal hours of operation for state agencies, including institutions of higher education, between the hours of 8:00 a.m. and 5:00 p.m., Monday through Friday. Texas Government Code, Section§ 605.002 has regulations regarding the working hours of regular, full-time staff employees.
The performance of normal work duties both on-campus at the employee's Regularly Assigned Place of Employment where official University business is performed and off-campus, at an Alternate Work Location. Hybrid Work can occur at an Alternate Work Location for up to two days (40%) per week, and for part-time employees up to 40% of their hours. Hybrid Work must be approved by the AWA Agreement. Positions eligible for Hybrid work must be classified as such by Human Resources in conjunction with the responsible Executive Committee member.
Regularly Assigned Place of Employment (Principal Location)
Designated headquarters where an employee usually and customarily reports to work. The Regularly Assigned Place of Employment is considered an employee's workstation for all pay, leave, and travel purposes.
The performance of normal work duties 100% remotely by an employee at a location away from the employee’s Regularly Assigned Place of Employment. This off-campus location is most often the employee's home, but can also be a satellite office or, if traveling, a virtual office. Positions eligible for 100% remote work must be classified as such by Human Resources in conjunction with the responsible Executive Committee member.
University Work Week
Wednesday through Tuesday, for time and effort reporting.
The employee's hours of work at the Regularly Assigned Place of Employment or off-campus at an Alternative Work Location.
All requests for participation in an AWA will be made through the approval process set forth in this policy. Eligible employees must complete an AWA Agreement.
After the agreement is completed, the employee will sign and forward the agreement to the:
- Immediate supervisor who will recommend approval or disapproval and forward to
- The Department Head will then approve or disapprove the request and forward
- To the responsible Executive Committee member for approval or disapproval
- Human Resources for final review. Upon review, the original will be placed in the employee's personnel file, and a copy will be forwarded to the supervisor and the employee. If disapproved, the form will be returned by Human Resources to the supervisor
The AWA program includes Telecommuting/Remote Work, Hybrid Work, Alternative Work Schedules, and Compressed Workweek options.
These procedures cannot anticipate every situation that may arise under an AWA. It is the responsibility of each director, manager, and supervisor to make fair, consistent, and objective decisions when faced with circumstances that are not specifically addressed in this policy and procedures.
Directors, managers, supervisors, and employees will be responsible for establishing Telecommuting/Remote Work, Hybrid Work, Compressed Workweek and Alternate Work Schedules. Before implementation, the employee’s proposed alternative work schedules and/or locations must be approved by the AWA Agreement. Departments should ensure that the AWA established meets the needs of students, the public and other university departments. Employees using AWA are required to work a set schedule. However, with advance approval from the supervisor, an employee may modify his/her work schedule within a specific week.
An employee may not work more than ten hours in any day.
Arrival time must be between 7:00 a.m. to 10:00 a.m. and departure time must between 3:30 p.m. to 7:00 p.m. (any arrival/departure time outside of this time frame must have a qualifying statement on the Employee Request for AWA Agreement, under the Comments section).
While working in accordance with an approved AWA, employees must be responsible for making sure they have access to any resources necessary to perform any assigned activity when working from a location other than the employee’s Regularly Assigned Place of Employment.
Have access to a computer and telephone that they are willing to use for University business. The location away from the employee’s Regularly Assigned Place of Employment must be safe and free of all hazards. This location must also have access to electrical outlets, a cellular network or landline phone access, and internet connectivity. This location must be free from non-work-related events and activities that would disrupt or interfere with work.
Be able to complete any task assigned, in a location at which any confidential and/or sensitive information or data can be kept safe and secure. Also, understand that no confidential or proprietary information or data can be downloaded or otherwise placed or maintained on a non-University device or equipment.
Be available for communication and contact during the Work Schedule as if they would be if working at their Regularly Assigned Place of Employment. Employees and their supervisors shall agree on how their communications will be handled. During the agreed upon Work Schedule, it is expected that the participating employee shall be available for contact by phone, e-mail, or video conferencing.
When operational needs require, be willing to report to the Regularly Assigned Place of Employment upon the supervisor’s request. Employees will be given as much advance notice as feasible under the circumstances presented.
Be willing and able to securely dispose of any confidential and/or sensitive information.
Discuss with their supervisor any change to the AWA once it is established, including termination of the arrangement.
Understand that all University policies apply to any AWA, including whether the employee is performing Telecommuting/Remote Work, performing Hybrid Work, working a Compressed Workweek, and/or working Alternative Work Schedules. This includes having a performance evaluation completed each year.
Understand that all leave policies and procedures continue to apply regardless whether the work is being performed at their Regularly Assigned Place of Employment or at an Alternative Work Location.
Understand that information or data related to University business is subject to collection and review by the University.
Complete the necessary/associated training(s) on a yearly basis for each fiscal year.
Complete and submit the AWA Agreement on a yearly basis for each fiscal year.
Supervisor Responsibilities and Considerations
Upon receipt of an employee’s written request for an AWA, the immediate supervisor must review the request to determine the employee’s eligibility and evaluate department issues/needs that may be impacted by the AWA.
Be responsible for confirming that the employee has access to any resources necessary to perform any assigned activity.
It is within the discretion of the immediate supervisor, the Department Head, responsible Executive Committee member, and/or HR Director to deny the employee’s AWA in its entirety.
Supervisors should consider the following criteria when deciding whether to approve an AWA:
- The level of student, staff, faculty, and/or public interface of the unit and/or employee
- The impact on the unit’s ability to fulfill its mission
- Whether or not the productivity of the employee can be maintained
- If the employee will be able to follow University policies and procedures
- If doing so is in the best interests of the University
AWAs are appropriate for employees who:
- Have the demonstrated abilities to successfully organize, manage time, work independently and productively with minimal supervision
- Have demonstrated a thorough knowledge and understanding of their job functions and the equipment required for the AWA
- Have access to an Alternative Work Location that is safe and free from interruptions
- Are able to provide the security necessary to adequately protect any University information and equipment used at an Alternative Work Location
While working in accordance with an approved AWA, supervisors must:
- Develop a system for assessing work done by any employee on an AWA
- Be responsible for ensuring that the employee has adequate and appropriate safeguards in place before providing the employee with access to any confidential and/or sensitive information
- Be responsible for demonstrating employee and department productivity, including identifying and establishing key performance indicators
- Be responsible for determining and monitoring eligibility for employee’s participation in the AWA
- Be responsible for maintaining optimal services and operation of their departments
- Understand that all University policies apply to AWA, including whether the employee is performing Telecommuting/Remote Work, performing Hybrid Work, working a Compressed Workweek, working an Alternative Work Schedule, and/or working at Alternative Work Locations. This includes ensuring that the employee’s performance evaluation is completed each year
- Complete the necessary/associated training(s) on a yearly basis
Work Documentation, Timekeeping and Leave
Participating employees and supervisors should identify work items for review and discussion on an ongoing basis to ensure that tasks are fully described and timely performed and/or completed.
Timekeeping: Participating non-exempt employees will be required to maintain accurate time accounting documentation to support their work hours and must submit regular weekly time reports detailing hours worked. Departments shall maintain all-time records for the employee.
Overtime: Under the Federal Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), non-exempt employees will be compensated pay or compensatory time for overtime that has been approved by the supervisor in accordance with the provisions of the FLSA.
State Compensatory Time: With the approval, as delegated by the responsible Executive Committee member, an employee may earn state compensatory time for work performed at an Alternate Work Location.
Approval: Pursuant to established University policies, employees must obtain supervisory approval before taking accrued and available leave.
Leave Policies: When an employee takes vacation or sick leave for an entire workday, the employee will have either eight, nine, or ten hours charged to the appropriate leave balance, depending upon the day of the Compressed Work Week schedule.
Use of Equipment
While working at an Alternative Work Location, employees must follow these guidelines in regard to the use of equipment:
- Employees must use only University approved software for connecting with the University’s network (VPN) from their Alternate Work Location
- Employees are responsible for providing workspace, telephone, printing, networking and/or internet capabilities at their Alternate Work Location
- Internet access must be via DSL, Cable Modem, or a current bandwidth network
- Employees must always run current anti-virus software and follow University security rules, copyright laws, and procedures
- Employees must follow all other software licensing and copyright laws, as well as all precautions and requirements related to working at their Alternate Work Location
- University owned equipment and University office supplies are only to be used for official University work needs and business in accordance with University policy
- Employees agree to protect University-owned equipment, records, and materials from unauthorized or accidental access, use, modification, destruction, or disclosure
- Employees understand that all equipment, records, and materials provided by the University shall remain the property of the University
- No Protected Health Information or other confidential and/or proprietary information may be stored on personal electronic equipment
All participation is voluntary. Employees who wish to participate must be in their current position more than 90 days, have not been subject to disciplinary action or Performance Improvement Plan (PIP) within the past six months, have received a performance rating of meets or exceeds expectations in the most recent annual performance evaluation process. If there is no performance review on file, the employee must meet supervisor’s performance expectations, and complete an AWA Agreement and any/all AWA related training(s). Employees who wish to work a regular 8-hour day may continue to do so and no action on their part is needed. The Executive Committee reserves the right to approve exceptions to the AWA policy on a case-by-case basis, following a thorough review and assessment of the circumstances presented.
Leave policies will be administered in accordance with UHV policy C-01, Leaves of Absence.
Employees who choose to participate in an AWA have an option of requesting 30 or 60-minute lunch breaks. Lunch breaks must be taken when working more than five hours daily.
Tardiness or Other Unexcused Absences
If an employee is participating in AWA and arrives later than the normally scheduled arrival time, that employee should make up this time outside of the regularly scheduled lunch period or use some type of leave to record the absence. This policy is not meant to condone tardiness and employees are accountable for the amount of time they are late.
Employees will not be restricted to an 8-hour day
The department may permit occasional adjustments to work schedules within the work week as long as 40 hours are worked within that Work Week. Adjusted hours may not be carried over into another Work Week. This practice ensures that the adjusted hours do not fall into the category of overtime or compensatory time earned.
Each employee, upon entering an Alternative Work Schedule program, will acknowledge in writing that they understand the responsibilities involved.
Standards and Ethics
For the program to be successful, certain principles must be understood by both management and employees. By choosing to implement this program, UHV is placing an important level of trust in its employees. AWA hours demand a mutual sense of responsibility and trust between the employee and the institution. This mutual trust and responsibility can be jeopardized if employees abuse work or leave hours. Taking advantage of the system jeopardizes AWA privileges for all employees. Employee behavior that is not conducive to trust, cooperation, and communication will not be tolerated. Abuse of any program privilege may result in restricting an employee's AWA Agreement, and/or appropriate disciplinary action.
Suspension of AWA
An employee's participation in the AWA can be cancelled or suspended at any time due to operational needs. If possible, employees will be alerted in advance if this becomes necessary. Certain conditions may require a return to the Regularly Assigned Place of Employment and/or normal Hours of Operation. These could include departmental training, travel, cyclical work scheduling such as registration, holidays, and institutional emergencies. Supervisors will determine if a return to the Regularly Assigned Place of Employment and/or normal Hours of Operation is temporarily necessary within their respective departments.
The University assumes no liability for injury at an Alternative Work Location to any person who would not be in the work area if the duties were being performed at the Regularly Assigned Place of Employment. An injured employee participating in an AWA must notify their supervisor immediately and complete all requested documents. Workers' Compensation benefits may apply to injuries arising out of and in the course and scope of employment.
The University is not liable for damages to employee-owned equipment being used as part of an AWA. The employee is liable for any equipment lost, stolen, or damaged, including because of negligence, misuse, or abuse. The University is not liable for operating costs, home maintenance, or any other incidental costs (e.g., utilities, telephone, insurance) arising out of or relating to the employee’s alternative workplace arrangement.
The University, including the employee’s immediate supervisor, can discontinue the employee’s participation in an AWA at any time and for any reason.
Employees may request an AWA be terminated by providing their immediate supervisor with ten business days’ written notice.
The University is not liable for any and all costs, damages, and/or losses arising out of or relating to the termination of an AWA.
- Alternative Work Arrangement Agreement Form
- UHV policy C-01, Leaves of Absence
- UH System Administrative Memorandum 02.A.20, Hours of Work
- Texas Government Code, Title 6, Chapter 658, Hours of Labor
- Texas Government Code, Section 605.002, Length of Workday
Signature Obtained 08/29/2023
Robert K. Glenn, Ph.D.
Next Review Date: August 2028 (5 years)
Origination: Human Resources