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Protocol For Working Remotely During Covid-19 Emergency

Purpose 

Holy Cross places the highest priority on the health, safety and well-being of the College community.  Consistent with the College’s efforts to comply with the directives and recommendations of public health authorities, and with actions taken by peer institutions, the College has directed employees to work from home, or another appropriate private and work-conducive remote location, to the maximum extent possible.  This protocol is intended to provide assistance to department heads and supervisors in preparing their employees to work remotely.  This protocol is also intended to advise all employees who are working remotely of the rules and procedures that will be applicable for the duration of the period in which such remote work occurs.  This protocol is not intended to address whether and to what extent particular employees, or classifications of employees, are able, or will be required, to work from home.  Such determinations will be made and communicated by the College, or by department heads and supervisors, as appropriate.

Applicability

This protocol applies to all regular full-time and part-time employees of the College, except faculty.

Planning for Working Remotely

Technology Needs

Department heads and supervisors must promptly determine (and, if necessary, consult with their employees about) the technology needs of their employees so that such employees can continue to perform all of their job duties and responsibilities remotely.  This requires department heads and supervisors to determine whether and to what extent employees need College-provided computers or devices (e.g., laptops, chrome books, iPads, pre-paid cell phones); VPN access to the College’s network; and/or call-forwarding services to ensure that calls to a College phone line are received at home or on a cell phone.  Likewise, department heads and supervisors must determine whether employees require training, written or oral instructions, or other ITS-provided support in order to set up, access, or use any such devices or services.  Questions regarding the availability of equipment, VPN access, call-forwarding, and other technology-related issues should be directed to ITS.  Important information is also available on the ITS business continuity website.

Schedule and Availability

Employees working remotely are expected and will be required to follow their normal work schedule, except to the extent that schedule alterations are approved in writing by a department head or authorized supervisor.  Employees who reasonably foresee that working remotely will require a schedule adjustment should communicate immediately with their supervisor, so that department heads and supervisors can determine whether and to what extent such adjustments will be permitted.  Employees working remotely are expected and will be required to maintain at least the same level of frequency of communication with their colleagues and supervisors.  Likewise, employees are expected and will be required to be available for virtual meetings and conference calls during normal working hours.  If the exigencies of remote work are likely to require adjusting communication frequency or timing, or the schedule, duration, or nature of meetings and conference calls, employees must communicate with their supervisors to determine what adjustments, if any, will be made, with the goal of minimizing inefficiency and disruption of normal work activities.

Remote Work Locations

For most employees who are working remotely, working from home will be the best or only option.  However, employees should consider where in their home is the best place to work and whether another location (e.g., a library study room or a private room in the home of a relative or close friend) may be more appropriate.  Whatever location is chosen, it should have a reliable and secure internet connection and phone service and provide enough privacy (when needed) to permit the employee to comply with the College’s policies on confidentiality and information security.  For more on this topic, see the “Information Security” section below.

Dependent Care

As of March 25, 2020, Governor Baker extended school closures in the Commonwealth until at least May 4, 2020, amending the Governor’s initial March 15, 2020, Order, which closed schools until April 6, 2020. The College understands that many employees are facing childcare emergencies in light of school closures. Parents now have competing responsibilities between performing remote work for the College and caring for children while everyone is home. Employees must communicate with their supervisors about their situation and determine whether modifications to the work from home approved arrangement are necessary to balance the responsibilities of work and childcare. The College encourages supervisors to be flexible and patient while parents juggle work and childcare. Employees typically would be challenged to adequately perform their jobs while simultaneously performing dependent care duties.  Formal modifications to an employee’s work from home arrangement intended to last for the duration of the emergency period must be approved, in writing, by a supervisor and sent to Human Resources.

General Rules for Working Remotely

Job Duties

Employees must continue to perform all of their assigned job duties, and work for the full duration of their established daily or weekly schedule, while working remotely. Department heads and supervisors continue to have the authority to adjust such duties based on the needs of the College.  To the extent possible, department heads and supervisors should give their employees advanced notice of any change in an employee’s job duties.  Department heads and supervisors must continue to employ performance reviews, informal counseling, and disciplinary processes (where appropriate) consistent with applicable policies.

Information Security and Confidentiality

Employees who are given College property and equipment (e.g., laptops, chrome books, desktop computers, pre-paid cell phones, scanners, printers, fax machines) must keep such items in a secure, safe, and clean location.  Employees are responsible for safeguarding and proper handling of such items and for the confidentiality and integrity of non-public College information and data. Employees are also responsible for following all applicable privacy, data security, and confidentiality laws and applicable College policies and procedures.  Storage of College documents or data on personal computers or devices is not authorized.  To the extent an employee believes an exception to this policy is warranted, the employee should make a request via email infosec@holycross.edu before any data is moved from a College computer to a personal device.  All such requests will be evaluated on a case-by-case basis. All employees should again review and familiarize themselves with the College’s IT policies which can be accessed here: https://www.holycross.edu/information-technology-services/it-policies. Any equipment or devices provided by the College must be returned to the College immediately upon request.

Requesting, Using, and Reporting Paid Time Off

All time off policies continue to apply while an employee is working remotely.  All employees should continue to request time off and seek approval from a supervisor in advance, as required by applicable policies.  Employees are required and expected to accurately report any leave used during the period they are working remotely.  If your child or a family member requires care because they are sick, or due to school/daycare closures or other exigencies, employees must attend to such care as they would if they were working on campus, and report such time as sick time, if appropriate, or as vacation or other paid time off, consistent with applicable policies.

Reporting Time Worked

Hourly employees who work remotely must timely and accurately report all time worked through established procedures or, if directed, through modified procedures applicable during the period they are working remotely.  Department heads and supervisors must diligently ensure that employees are timely and accurately reporting their time worked.  Any apparent time-reporting or hourly pay discrepancies or errors identified by supervisors or employees must be raised and addressed immediately.

Worker’s Compensation

College employees are expected to be safety-conscious while working remotely. If an employee is injured while working remotely, such injury should be reported promptly consistent with applicable reporting procedures because worker’s compensation may be implicated.

Non-Reimbursable Expenses

Any changes made to the employee’s home to provide for a designated work space are non-reimbursable. Employees will not be reimbursed for home office costs (e.g., costs of connecting to the internet, costs for cellphone service, home maintenance, property or liability insurance or other incidental expenses) except to the extent stipends for the same have already been approved.

Business expenses

Employees must seek approval from the department head or supervisors before authorizing, purchasing, or incurring a business expense for which reimbursement will be sought. Employees may not deviate from standard practices for incurring business expenses while working remotely and written authorization must be received from department heads or supervisors before incurring any reimbursable business expense.

Additional Information Regarding this Protocol

Modification and Termination of Remote-Work Arrangements

The College may modify or terminate any employee’s remote-work arrangement at any time and for any reason.  This protocol does not create any contractual rights or entitlements but, rather, provides guidance and rules for working remotely when such remote work is required or permitted by the College.

Temporary Arrangement

The remote-work arrangements contemplated by this protocol are intended to be temporary and to specifically address the COVID-19 public health emergency.   The College’s approval of a temporary remote-work arrangement for any employee or group of employees does not mean that the College approves of remote work generally or that the essential functions of any particular job can, in fact, be performed remotely.

At-Will Employment

Nothing in this protocol is intended to, or shall, affect the at-will nature of any employee’s employment relationship with the College.  All policies applicable to employees of the College remain in effect at all times, irrespective of whether an employee is working remotely.