Telecommuting Policy

Telecommuting Policy

Phoenix Public Library

Adopted by the Library Board of Trustees on June 11, 2020

Telecommuting

Telecommuting allows employees to work at home or in a satellite location for all or part of their workweek. The Phoenix Public Library considers telecommuting to be a viable, flexible work option when both the employee and the job are suited to such an arrangement. Telecommuting may be appropriate for some employees and jobs but not for others. Telecommuting is not an entitlement, it is not a companywide benefit, and it in no way changes the terms and conditions of employment.

Telecommuting can be informal, such as working from home for a short-term project or on the road during business travel, or a formal, set schedule of working away from the office as described below. Either an employee or a supervisor can suggest telecommuting as a possible work arrangement.

Any telecommuting arrangement made will be on a trial basis and may be discontinued at will and at the request of either the telecommuter or the organization. Every effort will be made to provide notice of such change to accommodate commuting, child care, and other issues that may arise from the termination of a telecommuting arrangement. There may be instances, however, when no notice is possible.

Eligibility

Only exempt (i.e., not subject to the overtime provisions of the Fair Labor Standards Act) employees are eligible to be considered for regular, occasional and emergency telecommuting. Non-exempt employees are eligible for occasional and emergency telecommuting where their function is absolutely necessary for the department to continue critical functions, operations, and services. Eligibility may also be adjusted for a staff member who has a disability and needs to work from home.

Before entering into any telecommuting arrangement, the employee and director, with the assistance of the Board of Trustees, will evaluate the suitability of such an arrangement, reviewing the following areas:

  • Employee suitability. The employee and director (or director and Board of Trustees) will assess the needs and work habits of the employee, compared to traits customarily recognized as appropriate for successful telecommuters.
  • Job responsibilities. The employee and director (or director and Board of Trustees) will discuss the job responsibilities and determine if the job is appropriate for a telecommuting arrangement.
  • Equipment needs, workspace design considerations and scheduling issues. The employee and director (or director and Board of Trustees) will review the physical workspace needs and the appropriate location for the telework.
  • Tax and other legal implications. The employee must determine any tax or legal implications under IRS, state and local government laws, and/or restrictions of working out of a home-based office. Responsibility for fulfilling all obligations in this area rests solely with the employee.
  • Additional considerations.
    • Do key duties require ongoing access to equipment, materials, and files that can only be accessed on Phoenix Public Library property?
    • Do key duties require extensive face-to-face contact with the director, other employees, or member library staff on Phoenix Public Library property?
    • Do security issues require the key duties to be conducted on Phoenix Public Library property?

If the employee and director agree, and the Board of Trustees concurs, a draft telecommuting agreement will be prepared and signed by all parties.

An appropriate level of communication between the telecommuter and supervisor (director or Board of Trustees) will be agreed to as part of the discussion process. After conclusion of the trial period, the director and telecommuter will communicate at a level consistent with employees working at the office or in a manner and frequency that is appropriate for the job and the individuals involved.

Regular, Occasional, and Emergency Telecommuting

There are three types of telecommuting: regular, occasional, and emergency.

Regular Telecommuting -  the employee will have an established, predictable schedule. For example: Tuesdays and Thursdays, or every other Wednesday. Another form of regular telecommuting could be for an entire workweek(s) but only for a limited period of time. In any case, the regular telecommuting days and the duration of the telecommuting arrangement, if for a limited period of time, are identified and agreed to at the outset and are specified in the Telecommuting Agreement. They may be changed upon agreement between the employee and the department. Employees may be required to be available during core business hours to enhance communications and member library support.

Occasional Telecommuting - is characterized by situations when an employee will telecommute sporadically, generally on an as-needed basis. Examples of occasional telecommuting are instances when an employee might not have transportation to work or times of extremely inclement weather. Because occasional telecommuting will only occur once in a while, departments should keep that in mind when evaluating the employee’s and the position’s suitability. To handle an occasional telecommuting scenario, the department and employee can establish the parameters of the telecommuting arrangement in advance, such as identifying the telecommuting location and specifying how often the employee is expected to check email and return phone calls on telecommuting days.

Emergency Telecommuting - is a one-time-only arrangement whereby, during a crisis or emergency situation at the Phoenix Public Library, the employee telecommutes because his or her job responsibilities must still be fulfilled to provide for continuity of operations. Examples of a crisis or emergency situation are a pandemic, natural disaster, weather emergency, or other situation that presents a significant overall threat to the Phoenix Public Library staff and facilities. Telecommuting is a means of providing for fulfillment of important functions.

Equipment 

On a case-by-case basis, the Phoenix Public Library will determine, with information supplied by the employee and the supervisor, the appropriate equipment needs (including hardware, software, modems, phone and data lines and other office equipment) for each telecommuting arrangement. The NCLS business office and IT departments will serve as resources in this matter.

Equipment supplied by the library will be maintained by the library. Equipment supplied by the employee, if deemed appropriate by the organization, will be maintained by the employee. The Phoenix Public Library accepts no responsibility for damage or repairs to employee-owned equipment. The Phoenix Public Library reserves the right to make determinations as to appropriate equipment, subject to change at any time. Equipment supplied by the organization is to be used for business purposes only. The telecommuter must sign an inventory of all Phoenix Public Library property received and agree to take appropriate action to protect the items from damage or theft. Upon termination of employment, all company property will be returned to the company, unless other arrangements have been made.

The Phoenix Public Library will supply the employee with appropriate office supplies (pens, paper, etc.) as deemed necessary. The Phoenix Public Library may reimburse the employee for other business expenses (mailing letters or packages, etc) with preapproval from the library director. The employee will establish an appropriate work environment within his or her home for work purposes. The Phoenix Public Library will not be responsible for costs associated with the setup of the employee’s home office, such as remodeling, furniture or lighting, nor for repairs or modifications to the home office space.

Security

Consistent with the library’s expectations of information security for employees working at the office, telecommuting employees will be expected to ensure the protection of library and patron information accessible from their home office. Steps include the use of locked file cabinets and desks, regular password maintenance, locking their workstation when not in use and any other measures appropriate for the job and the environment.

Safety

Employees are expected to maintain their home workspace in a safe manner, free from safety hazards. The Phoenix Public Library will provide each telecommuter with a safety checklist that must be completed at least twice per year. Injuries sustained by the employee in a home office location and in conjunction with his or her regular work duties are normally covered by the company’s workers’ compensation policy. Telecommuting employees are responsible for notifying the employer of such injuries as soon as practicable. The employee is liable for any injuries sustained by visitors to his or her home worksite.

Telecommuting is not designed to be a replacement for appropriate child care. Although an individual employee’s schedule may be modified to accommodate child care needs, the focus of the arrangement must remain on job performance and meeting business demands. Prospective telecommuters are encouraged to discuss expectations of telecommuting with family members prior to entering a trial period.

Time Worked

Telecommuting employees who are not exempt from the overtime requirements of the Fair Labor Standards Act will be required to accurately record all hours worked using the Phoenix Public Library timesheets. Hours worked in excess of those scheduled per day and per workweek require the advance approval of the telecommuter’s supervisor. Failure to comply with this requirement may result in the immediate termination of the telecommuting agreement.

Ad Hoc Arrangements

Temporary telecommuting arrangements may be approved for circumstances such as inclement weather, special projects or business travel. These arrangements are approved on an as-needed basis only, with no expectation of ongoing continuance.

Other informal, short-term arrangements may be made for employees on family or medical leave to the extent practical for the employee and the organization and with the consent of the employee’s health care provider, if appropriate.

All informal telecommuting arrangements are made on a case-by-case basis, focusing first on the business needs of the organization.

Procedure

Complete the following forms and submit a copy to your supervisor:

  1. Fill out and sign the Phoenix Public Library Telecommuting Application Form
  2. Complete the Telecommuting Self-Assessment
  3. Complete the Safety Checklist

Your supervisor (director or board of trustees) will set up a time to meet with you and review these materials to determine if telecommuting would be appropriate.