Amherst College is committed to facilitating workplace arrangements that support a variety of operational, professional and personal needs, knowing that may vary depending on each employee’s responsibilities and situation. We recognize that the threat from COVID-19 is not over, and it continues to affect our community in different ways, including how, when, and where many of us are able to work, teach and learn.

This COVID-19 Remote Work Policy provides guidance on responsibilities, limitations and expectations of employees who would like to continue working remotely or request a remote work arrangement.  The goal is to reduce the potential for transmission of COVID-19 on our campus while continuing to support the College operations, teaching and learning activities and student services.  It requires full cooperation among everyone - staff, supervisors, and department chairs.  Only through a cooperative effort can we work to maintain the safety and health of our College community and provide students with the best educational experience.

Remote work:

A remote work arrangement allows an employee to work at home or another off-site location during a pre-approved length of time on a consistent or occasional basis. The vast majority of jobs at the College require employees to be on campus to interact and collaborate with faculty, staff, students, alumni, and others who make up the College community.  During this time of a pandemic, however, remote work arrangements can be appropriate and desirable, but not all forms of flexibility are applicable to all positions.  Employees and supervisors/department chairs are encouraged to have open dialogues about the need for a remote work arrangement and to evaluate if it is feasible or not.  The assessment should consider:

  • the impact of the remote work arrangement on the operation and goals of the department and the strategic plans of the College;
  • the ability of the employee to perform the essential functions of the position as described in the job description while working remotely;
  • the need to ensure compliance with College policy and workplace regulations, including FLSA and Workers Compensation;
  • the ultimate goal of providing our students a great learning experience while reducing the risk of virus transmission in the on-campus work environment.

Provisions:

  • Remote work arrangements are possible under different scenarios:
    • All essential duties of the job can be performed remotely.
    • Some essential duties of the job can be performed remotely, with other duties requiring a presence on campus.
      • Supervisors/department chairs should determine if the position and expectations allow a remote work arrangement, or if the position could be temporarily modified to integrate short-term remote work. 
    • While working remotely, exempt and non-exempt employees are expected to follow their work schedule and to ensure assigned duties are completed.
    • Employees and supervisors/department chairs should discuss the resources needed for remote work and plans for maintaining the security of confidential information.
    • Non-exempt employees must report all worked hours, including overtime, and take lunch breaks as required by law.
    • All employees should keep close communication with their supervisors/department chairs, and stay up to date on developments affecting their divisions and our campus community.
    • Remote work arrangements should be based on current job descriptions, and should not result in changes to job descriptions or to the essential functions of any position. In addition, they should not be solely based on the employee’s personal situation.  This is being requested to meet the objective of providing consistency across campus, complying with applicable state and federal laws and minimizing inequities.
    • If the position requires that some duties are performed on campus, employees are required to comply with the College prevention and safety guidelines, including those related to travel.
    • The College may reevaluate the appropriateness of remote work determinations at any time—particularly after the pandemic has subsided.

Procedure:

  • Employees working remotely, or who would like to request a remote work arrangement, must work with their supervisors/department chairs to confirm or receive approval of a remote work arrangement.
  • Supervisors/department chairs will assess requests and make a determination taking into consideration the aspects described above, and will consult with others for guidance when necessary (department head, senior staff, IT support, HR representative).
  • Approval or continuation of remote work arrangements will be made on a case-by-case basis, at the discretion of the supervisor/department chair, as described in the Workplace Planning Guide.
  • If an employee has a concern regarding a decision under this policy, it should be brought to the attention of the supervisor/department chair immediately in order to resolve it.
  • If the concern is not resolved, the Office of Human Resources can provide guidance to both parties in order to reach a resolution.
  • Remote work arrangements must be reviewed and evaluated periodically by the employee and the supervisor/department chair to determine the effectiveness of the arrangement.
  • If the arrangement becomes infeasible at any time, it may be discontinued at the discretion of either the employee or the supervisor/department chair.

Workspace and Safety:

  • Employees are responsible to ensure their remote workspace is safe and free from any safety hazards.
  • If working at home, the employee must have a separate workspace designated to work remotely
  • If an employee gets sick while working remotely, they should make use of their leaves and follow their healthcare provider’s recommendations.
  • Employees should follow the Guidelines for Remote Work Arrangements for Staff and take advantage of tips and best practices for working remotely included in our Resources for Remote Work webpage.

Workers’ Compensation:

  • Workers’ Compensation benefits will apply only to injuries sustained while working on a pre-approved remote work arrangement.
  • Employees are responsible for notifying their supervisor/department chair of such injuries as soon as practical.
  • An incident report must be completed immediately, as established in our Workers’ Compensation policy.
  • The College is not responsible for injuries unrelated to such work activities that might occur in the defined off-site work location or elsewhere.
  • The employee is responsible for any injuries sustained by visitors at their worksite.

Benefits:

  • Benefit status will not be affected by a remote work arrangement.
  • If hours per week are reduced, some benefits will be reduced proportionally and according to policy.
  • Overtime and leave accrual will continue to be based on hours worked during the remote work arrangement and as described in our Overtime and Leave
  • Employees must report all use of accrued leaves while on a remote work arrangement.
  • Emergency or holiday pay will be assessed and approved depending on the circumstances.
  • Employees and supervisors/department chairs must discuss the need to work remotely during those instances when the College is closed.

Other considerations:

  • Remote work arrangements are not to be used to provide care for family members or to perform non-work related tasks. However, during this time of a pandemic we recognize the need for a level of flexibility due to an increased need for balance between work and personal responsibilities. 
  • The College is not responsible for expenses associated with working at home; heat, electricity, Internet or phone service, etc.
  • The employee’s use of equipment, software, and all other resources provided by the College is limited to the purposes of remote work and is not intended for the employee’s personal use.
  • Employees are responsible for the security of all College related information and for complying with our Electronic Resources Acceptable Use Policy.
  • The College’s insurance will not cover any personal property that is used at home or another worksite, and will only cover authorized mobile equipment.
  • In the event that the employee ceases employment with the College, or the arrangement is discontinued for any reason, the employee must return all College property.

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