Republished September 14, 2021
On August 2, 2021, the new SUNY Telecommuting Policy was distributed to the University at Buffalo for implementation at the campus level.
This new policy is a positive step forward and will assist our institution’s efforts to assist with work productivity and increase employee engagement overall. SUNY’s policy will support telecommuting and flexible work, where it is reasonable to do so, based on the university’s mission, operational and program needs.
Directly from the policy:
“This program’s purpose is to support implementation of telecommuting programs, where desired, establish guidelines designed to clearly articulate employee and campus expectations, and provide an additional vehicle for employee development while offering campus management the flexibility to operate a successful telecommuting program and plan for future workforce needs.”
Faculty and staff may use the form, beginning September 15, to request flexible work such as a compressed work week, flexible start and end times and telecommuting. Applications may be submitted on September 15 or any time after; there is no specified application period.
Once the application has been approved or denied by the VP/Dean, the form should be submitted to Human Resources. There are multiple ways to submit the form to our office.
Human Resources - Work/Life Services
205 Hayes Road
In preparation, Human Resources conducted a series of virtual town hall meetings for employees and supervisors. These meetings provided important information including:
In the employee session, HR will outline the policy specifics including the request process, expectations outlined in the policy, tips for talking to a supervisor about your desire to work remotely and answer questions.
In the supervisor sessions, we will provide the same information as the employee sessions with the addition of information including communicating your expectations, applying managerial discretion, managing employee expectations, tips for conversations with employees about any concerns and fostering an environment of flexibility.
First, have a conversation with your supervisor about the desire to work remotely some of the time. Explain your reasons for the request and the set schedule desired. After a conversation has taken place, submit the application form for review. Please note, approval is not guaranteed despite the previous conversation, as each manager has to review the requests of the entire team before approving individual requests to ensure business and operational needs are covered (i.e – service expectations, office hours, phone coverage, student expectations, etc.).
Forms can be submitted September 15th and anytime thereafter until the end of 2021. Once submitted, it may take up to 21 days for final approval. The process is as follows:
An employee may appeal a denial to the Chief Human Resource Officer in writing within seven calendar days following receipt of the denial. The appeal shall state the reasons for disagreement with management’s determination. Please note, a conversation between Human Resources and the manager/Dean/VP involved will occur before any additional consideration is given to the request. Please review the policy for additional information.
Keep the reasons brief and concise. Examples include: Increased productivity when I complete these tasks (name tasks) at home, be at home when my children arrive home from school, improved time management, enjoy increased flexibility and work/life balance.
This policy leaves the decision to each individual manager to determine the practicality of each request. This decision may be based on many factors, some of which include business and operational needs, service expectations from the customer and the performance of each employee in remote situations. Employees of good standing who have proven their ability to work independently are more likely to be approved if the request does not interfere with normal operational functions and services of the unit.
These approvals are allowed until the end of December 2021, as this is a trial policy. Please note: Managers have the ability to revoke the approval at any time due to insufficient performance, operational needs of the unit or a handful of other business reasons. Managers can also specify a check-in/review period between approval date and the end of the year (i.e – every 14 or 30 days).
Typically, 30 days notice would be provided. However, it may be shortened in cases of operational needs or emergency (i.e. sudden increase in volume of work in unit or someone needs to be out on unplanned sick leave and coverage is needed).
Yes, denials will need to be submitted to HR for tracking, as we will send out information to the employee and inform them about the appeal process.
This policy speaks to working remotely on a consistent and predictable schedule. Asking for a remote work situation in the event of inclement weather is outside of this policy as it is intermittent and cannot be planned for on a routine basis. Leaving the workplace for two hours per day to get children on and off a bus is also outside the telecommuting policy. This is because employees are not working while gathering children from school. A better option for this situation would be an arrangement with flexible start and stop times for their workday. Another alternative might be to offer a half day arrangement where they work remotely every afternoon to get children off the bus, in which case this form should be utilized. We have added additional categories to our form to enable employees to request these types of arrangements.
It is up to the discretion of the manager, and based on the relationship between manager and employee, but it is recommended that a high-level overview of major projects, buckets of work or tasks be identified in bullet format for ease of review.
Please contact Human Resources at 716-645-7777 or email@example.com in the event of a COVID related closure or order of quarantine. HR will contact you regarding the situation and discuss options at that time.
It is up to the manager’s discretion, but it is recommended that the employee be given the courtesy of enough advanced notice to make any arrangements necessary to be in the office on that unscheduled day (i.e – arrange a ride, etc.).
This policy applies to all full-time staff, bargaining units and funding sources, however a faculty member typically already has flexibility built into their work schedule and in most cases would not be approved if they completed this form for a remote work accommodation. This policy does not apply to any student employees (TA/GA/RAs, etc.).
The maximum amount of time allowable to work remotely under this policy is 50% in a ten-day work period (pay period). It is up to the discretion of the manager to approve it. The manager can suggest less than a 50% work remote arrangement as an alternative if deemed necessary for operational or performance reasons.
If you believe that you are in need of a medical accommodation under the ADA then reach out to Human Resources for additional information at 716-645-7777 or firstname.lastname@example.org.