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Flexible Work Arrangements Policy for University Employees

About This Policy

Policy Owner
David Vernon
Responsible Office
Human Resources

I. Purpose

The purpose of this policy is to establish guidelines and criteria for determining the feasibility of flexible work arrangements, required documentation, and protocols for ensuring the stability, continuity, and security of University operations.

Carefully-planned flexible work arrangements will help the University to advance institutional goals including recruitment and retention of talented employees, environmental sustainability, and financial efficiency, while maintaining a vibrant campus with effective staffing and support of students, colleagues, and other key campus constituencies.

This Policy is being launched with an expectation that we will learn from experience and is subject to review and revision based on business needs, applicable federal and state laws, and at least annually.

Important Note: This Policy is separate and apart from requests for accommodations due to an employee’s disability in accordance with the Americans with Disabilities Act and the New Jersey Law Against Discrimination. Requests for accommodations due to a disability shall be submitted to HR Benefits in accordance with existing policy.

II. Definitions

Alternate Workplace:
a work location other than an employee’s Campus Workplace; the most common Alternate Workplace is the home of an employee. Such a work location should provide the employee with an appropriate working environment, including sufficient working space, access to reliable internet and telephone service, limited distractions, and located within a Commutable Distance of the University.
Campus Workplace:
an employee’s workplace on the Montclair State campus or in space leased by the University.
Commutable Distance:
is any location which supports an employee’s ability to travel to campus when required, including on days that might otherwise be remote working days.
Compressed Schedule:
a schedule with a reduction in the number of work days in a workweek from five days to four days and changes to an employee’s starting and departure times that are outside of a standard shift (for many employees, this is 8:30 am to 4:30 pm). Job duties performed under a Compressed Schedule may occur at an employee’s Campus Workplace or Alternate Workplace. The total number of hours worked in a workweek are not altered.
Flextime Schedule:
a schedule with variations in an employee’s starting and departure times that are outside of a standard shift (for many employees, this is 8:30 am to 4:30 pm). Job duties performed under a Flextime Schedule may occur at an employee’s Campus Workplace or Alternate Workplace. The total number of hours worked in a workweek are not altered.
Flexible Work Agreement:
a document which memorializes the terms of a flexible work arrangement (a Flextime, Hybrid or Compressed Schedule, or combination thereof) as agreed to by the employee, supervisor and dean or divisional vice president (a dean or divisional vice president may also be an employee’s supervisor).
Hybrid Schedule:
a schedule that permits eligible employees to work from an Alternate Workplace one or more days per week.

III: Policy

A: Overview

Supervisors have the initial responsibility for deciding which positions and employees are eligible for flexible work arrangements and decisions are made on a case-by-case basis taking into consideration the need of the unit, the University and an evaluation of the likelihood of the employee succeeding in a flexible work arrangement. Flexible Work Arrangements are a voluntary work alternative for some employees and some positions, but are not practical for all employees and all positions. No University employee is entitled to or guaranteed the opportunity to participate in a flexible work arrangement.

Employees approved for flexible work arrangements perform the same work that they would in their campus workplace, in accordance with the same performance expectations and other agreed-upon terms. Employees who are approved for a flexible work arrangement will be required to sign a flexible work agreement.

An employee’s classification, compensation, and benefits will not change if the employee is approved for a flexible work arrangement. The University may establish remote work as a condition of employment, based on the University’s business needs. In such cases, this requirement should be included when the position is advertised and in an offer of employment. The University reserves the right to modify or change the conditions of employment for any position and any flexible work arrangements associated with a position.

All Flexible Work Arrangements must comply with applicable federal and state laws, collective bargaining agreements (where applicable) and all University policies and procedures.

B: Eligible Positions and Employees

Supervisors will analyze the nature of a position and how the work is performed and determine which positions are appropriate to designate or approve for a flexible work arrangement. Examples of positions that may fit this category include, but are not limited to: those that are computer-based; those that do not require the performance of in-person activities in a campus location; and those that do not require a high level of coordination or collaboration with colleagues, or in-person interaction with students, faculty, or other staff. Eligibility of positions for flexible work arrangements will be analyzed based on the needs of the unit and the discretion of the supervisor.

If an employee in an eligible position requests approval for a Flexible Work Arrangement, the supervisor shall determine whether the employee is eligible. In general, the following conditions must be met for approval of a flexible work arrangement: the employee has no active disciplinary actions in force; the employee does not have documented unsatisfactory performance, whether the work has been performed on-campus or under a flexible work arrangement, and; the employee has demonstrated the ability to work productively on his/her own.

The process for evaluating eligible positions and employees should be fair and equitable. In all cases, flexible work arrangement decisions must be made without bias or favoritism and must be consistent with the goals, objectives, and operational needs of the University and the specific unit.

C: Ineligible Positions

The University following positions are ineligible for Flexible Work Arrangements based on the job requirements and nature of the work:

  • Academic Affairs: Faculty, Clinical Specialist, Instructional Specialist, and Adjunct positions
  • Civil Service positions deemed essential
  • Student Development and Campus Life: Residence Life, University Health Center and University Police Department positions

The foregoing is not an exhaustive list and subject to revision based on University and Divisional needs.

D: Request and Approval

Employees may request a flexible work arrangement by submitting a Flexible Work Arrangement request in Workday (Job Aid PDF) for an eligible position. The employee must include an explanation of how job responsibilities fit with the proposed arrangement, any potential impacts of the proposed arrangement and how those would be addressed, and any implications for their unit, for students or others served by the position. Employees who are unsure of whether their position is eligible for a flexible work arrangement are encouraged to discuss their proposed arrangement with their supervisor before submitting a Flexible Work Arrangement request.

Supervisors will review Flexible Work Arrangement requests, considering the specific job responsibilities, unit specific needs and priorities, and institutional goals and objectives. All approved flexible work arrangements must be documented by a Flexible Work Agreement request signed/approved by the employee, supervisor, and dean or divisional vice president in Workday. Such documentation should include the specifics of the arrangement as agreed.

Flexible work arrangements may not be approved for periods longer than six (6) months during the initial phase of this Policy; exceptions for periods longer than six (6) months, or for a term beyond June 30, 2022, must be reviewed and approved by the Vice President for Human Resources.

Most Hybrid Schedules will be for no more than 3 days of working from an Alternate Workplace per work week and could be for fewer days, although exceptions may be considered if supported by specific facts and circumstances. Requests for Hybrid Schedules of more than 3 days per week require the review and approval of the Vice President for Human Resources.

Pre-existing flexible work arrangements are subject to review under this Policy. Employees with pre-existing flexible work arrangements (whether the arrangement was agreed to with their supervisor in writing or verbally) must be resubmitted under this Policy within two weeks of implementation of the Policy.

In the event a supervisor declines a request for a flexible work arrangement, an employee may review the decision with the dean or divisional vice president of the employee’s unit. The decision by the dean or divisional vice president to approve or decline the request will be final.

E: Job Expectations and Managerial Supervision

For the duration of a flexible work agreement, supervisors will provide clear expectations for job performance using established policies and procedures. The supervisor and employee must collaborate on strategies to address any workflow or coverage issues that arise as a result of the flexible work arrangement. The employee is responsible for completing the job duties specified in their job description, including other duties as assigned by a supervisor, with any appropriate modifications necessary.

Employees must ensure they are accessible (by phone, email, and any other medium/platform designated by their supervisor) and communicate how to contact them (providing contact information and phone number on voicemails or in email signature blocks) whether they are at a Campus or Alternate Workplace. Employees must use call/voicemail forwarding and/or voicemail messages on their Campus Workspace phone to facilitate accessibility. The employee is required to participate in any meetings via conference call, Zoom or other electronic group-meeting platform consistent with departmental policies and with camera-on if required by their supervisor. Employees are expected to dress professionally and observe other University dress code policies while working remotely and participating in Zoom or electronic group meeting platforms.

The employee is responsible to ensure their Alternate Workplace provides sufficient working space without distractions and privacy to ensure confidentiality of University records, with reliable access to internet and telephone service, and any other conditions required to support the flexible work arrangement.

During University work hours, employees must be able to report to campus if directed by their supervisor with reasonable advance notification and no later than the next business day. In such instances, when an employee must work on campus on a day that would otherwise be a hybrid working day, substitute hybrid working days are not guaranteed and are at the discretion of the supervisor. Established break schedules, call-out, and vacation request procedures remain in effect on hybrid workdays, including any unexpected inability to work due to illness, power outage or other issue which should be recorded as appropriate through the University’s online timekeeping system (Workday).

F: Communication

Frequent, open communication between the supervisor and the employee is integral to the success of all working arrangements. Supervisors should clearly communicate expectations of both performance and availability while working under flexible or in-person working arrangements. Employees should keep their supervisors informed of progress on assignments, including any challenges or opportunities they may experience. The success of a flexible work arrangement will be contingent on effective communication, accountability, and trust, for which both the supervisor and the employee are responsible.

G: Equipment, Office Supplies & Office Space

Employees who have been provided with a University laptop computer are permitted to use it at an Alternate Workplace. To ensure the security and confidentiality of University records, any computer equipment provided by the University shall be used only by the authorized employee.

Employees are expected to provide any other non-portable equipment they may need or prefer such as office furniture, phones, supplemental monitors, printers, scanners, and internet connectivity. Where use of personal devices is permitted, employees are expected to install software or other technology that may be required by the University to ensure security, accountability, and productive delivery of work consistent with University policies.

Employees working under Flexible Work Arrangements may use office supplies purchased by the University. Any equipment or office supplies provided by the University to support a Flexible Work Agreement must be returned to campus upon termination of the flexible work arrangement. University equipment used at an Alternate Workplace must be listed in the Flexible Work Arrangements request.

Adoption of Flexible Working Arrangements will provide opportunities to redeploy and repurpose office space on the Montclair campus and leased by the University. Employees participating in Hybrid Schedules with Alternate Workplace(s) should anticipate the University will adopt flexible office alternatives to accommodate employees that may be on campus for a limited number of days during a workweek.

H: University Policies and Information Security

Employees must adhere to all University policies whether working at their Campus Workplace or at an Alternate Workplace. Adherence to IT, data security, and financial control policies are of particular importance while working at an Alternate Workplace. Employees must comply with MSU policies to connect to the MSU network, access data and access applications at all times. Employees shall not duplicate any University-owned software or sensitive data on personal devices except as explicitly allowed by University policy (such as the download of antivirus or Microsoft Office software). Consistent with existing University policy, employees shall not use University resources for the conduct of personal business, including while working at an Alternate Workplace.

Sensitive information (as defined in the Data Classification and Handling Policy) should only be accessed using University-issued computing devices (securely configured for such data access). Employees using personal computing devices may engage in limited entry of or access to sensitive data (such as an adjunct uploading grades for his class) only if they have assured that their personal computing device meets the University’s security policies, and confidential records are not accessed by anyone other than the employee.

I: Cost of Hybrid Work

The University is not obligated to assume responsibility for costs incurred by an employee in the use of an Alternate Work Location(s) (including an employee’s home) and performing Hybrid Work, including but not limited to: operating costs, maintenance, equipment, materials, Internet or telecommunications connections, renovation of space, or any other costs incurred by the employee.

J: Liability

An Alternate Workplace used by an employee under a Hybrid Schedule is an extension of the Campus Workplace. The State of New Jersey will determine whether: 1) the University’s liability for job-related accidents will continue to exist during the approved Hybrid Schedule and in the employee’s Alternate Workplace, and 2) the employee is covered under the State of New Jersey’s Workers’ Compensation Law for injuries occurring in the course of the actual performance of official duties at the Alternate Workplace. However, the University assumes no liability for damages to an employee’s real or personal property resulting from participation in a Flexible Work Arrangement.

If an injury occurs during Hybrid Schedule work hours, then the employee will immediately report the injury to their supervisor. The employee and supervisor should follow the University’s policies regarding the reporting of injuries for employees injured while at work. The State of New Jersey and Montclair State University are not responsible for any injuries to family members, visitors, and others in the employee’s Alternate Workplace. The employee may not have business guests or students at an Alternate Workplace.

To the extent permitted by law, the employee will not attempt to hold the University nor the State of New Jersey responsible or liable for any loss or liability in any way connected to the employee’s non-work related use of their Alternate Workplace, or home. The employee is responsible for contacting their insurance agent, tax consultant or other advisor, and consulting local ordinances, for information regarding Alternate Workplaces.

K: Time Keeping

The approved Flexible Work Agreement will document the days/hours the employee will be working. All University policies and procedures, including time and attendance reporting and leave time, continue to apply during flexible work arrangements. Supervisors are responsible for ensuring employees are fulfilling the job duties documented in the Flexible Work Agreement and the accurate and timely submission of time and attendance data. The University compensates fixed workweek employees for hours worked; supervisory approval is required in advance for overtime for fixed workweek employees, and no overtime may be worked without such approval.

L: Institutional Effectiveness and Culture

When reviewing requests, both initially and on an ongoing basis, supervisors, deans and vice presidents must consider the impacts of flexible work arrangements on other University departments with whom a position and employee regularly interacts. Consideration should also be given to how flexible work arrangements in the aggregate may affect the culture of the institution and opportunities for collaboration that may be best fostered with in-person interactions. It may be necessary to consider alternative means of interaction over time to the extent flexible work arrangements become more common as a result of this policy.

M: Review and Modification

Approved Flexible Work Agreements may be modified or terminated at any time at the sole discretion of the University due to changed circumstances or other University purposes. These agreements are a voluntary work alternative and not a term of employment; employees should have no expectation that any Flexible Work Arrangement will continue for their position for any particular period of time unless otherwise specified by the University. The University will attempt to provide employees with at least two weeks’ notice if a Flexible Work Agreements is changed or rescinded.

All flexible work arrangements must be reviewed formally at least annually and more frequently on an informal basis between the supervisor and the employee. The supervisor and employee should discuss the status of the flexible work arrangement in order to evaluate whether established job duty objectives and deliverables are clear and understood by both parties; project standards are delineated and performance is measured against defined standards; the employee’s performance and overall contribution to unit objectives can be and is evaluated, and; adjustments to enhance overall productivity need to be identified and implemented.

N: Short-Term Flexible Arrangements

While a regular, flexible work arrangement might not be feasible for all positions due to business needs or specific responsibilities of an employee, there may be instances where the supervisor and employee agree to a short term flexible working arrangement for an Eligible Position.

An employee may request approval to work a hybrid schedule or alter their arrival/departure time for up to one month (or shorter periods) by mutual agreement with their supervisor. Such requests must be in writing (email is acceptable) to the supervisor in advance and approval must be confirmed by the supervisor in writing. Should the request not be approved, and the employee is unable to report to work, the employee will need to request time off as per existing Human Resources policies.

Any flexible arrangement requests beyond one month must be documented with a Flexible Work Agreement. Supervisors must ensure no overtime will be incurred (without prior written approval) with a Short-Term Flexible Arrangement.

O: Working from Outside the State of New Jersey or a Commutable Distance

Remote Working Agreements must specify the location of the Alternate Workplace which will be within either the State of New Jersey or a Commutable Distance. In order to ensure compliance with all applicable laws, consideration of requests to work outside of the State of New Jersey, require the review and approval of Human Resources and University Counsel. Working at an Alternate Workplace beyond a commutable distance without a fully approved Flexible Work Arrangement request is grounds for termination of the arrangement.

P: Exceptions to Policy

Exceptions to policy may be considered on a case by case basis and require the approval of the Dean or Vice President with concurrence from the President and/or Vice President for Academic Affairs or Vice President for Human Resources.

IV: References and Related Montclair State University Documents

Flexible Work Agreement Info & FAQs (Human Resources)

Request for Flexible Work Arrangement (Job Aid PDF)

Security Guidance for Flexible Working (OIT)

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