Telecommuting Procedure

Purpose statement

To establish guidelines and provisions for telecommuting arrangements.

Scope

This procedure applies to full-time permanent non-union and contract non-union employees.  It may also apply to union employees, subject to the terms and conditions in their respective collective agreements.

Procedure

Telecommuting is the use of technology to change the location of where work is performed other than the conventional office, usually the employee’s home.

Eligibility

  1. Not all jobs or departments are suitable for a telecommuting arrangement due to the nature of the work performed and operational requirements.
  2. Employees who would like to be considered for a telecommuting arrangement must first submit a request in writing to the Director after consultation with the reporting manager/supervisor.  The decision to allow an employee to telecommute will be made by the Director in consultation with employee’s supervisor and Human Resources.
  3. Telecommuting is not to be considered a universal employee benefit and must have the complete support of the manager.
  4. Employees that are considered for telecommuting must be able to work independently, be self-starters, demonstrate attention to work time and be able to continually meet the productivity requirements of their position.
  5. The resources that an employee needs to do his/her job must be easily transportable or available electronically.
  6. Jobs that entail working alone or working with specialized software or equipment that can be kept at his/her home workspace are often suitable for telecommuting.  Jobs that require physical presence to perform effectively are normally not suitable for telecommuting.
  7. Management may establish work rules to support telecommuting to ensure access, safety and timely completion of work.
  8. Telecommuting is not an alternate to child or elder care.  If applicable, the telecommuter must make appropriate arrangements for dependent care.
  9. Employees are not permitted to have more than one flexible work arrangement at the same time.  Consideration may be given for exceptional circumstances on a time-limited basis with Commissioner approval.

Schedules and hours of work

  1. Telecommuting hours may be different from office hours, however, the employee and supervisor must agree on the designated hours of work.  A regular schedule, including specific days and hours, must be established by the employee and approved by their supervisor.  Changes to the agreed upon schedule must be approved in advance by the employee’s supervisor.
  2. The telecommuting arrangement will be on a trial basis for the first three months and may be discontinued by the Town of Oakville at any time, at the request of either the employee or the town.  If the arrangement is terminated by the town, every effort will be made to provide notice to the employee.
  3. A telecommuter will work one or two days maximum per week from home with the remainder of the scheduled hours working in the office on the Town of Oakville’s premises.
  4. The number of hours an employee works per week will not change due to participation in the telecommuting program.
  5. An employee must be available by telephone or email during the scheduled hours of the telecommuting arrangement, with the exception of their scheduled lunch period.  Any changes to their home contact information must be reported to their supervisor immediately.
  6. Overtime hours must be pre-approved by the supervisor.  Any shift differential pay will apply only when the supervisor requires the employee to work during hours where the shift differential policy would apply.
  7. Absences will be reported according the town’s Attendance Management Policy or an employee’s respective Collective Agreement, regardless of where the employee would be working that day.  Recording and tracking work hours on the Employee Biweekly Exception Time Sheet is the responsibility of the telecommuter, regardless of the location where the work is performed.
  8. Supervisors may require an employee to return to the Town of Oakville’s office on a regularly scheduled telecommuting day should work situations warrant such an action. If an employee is asked to return to the office during regularly scheduled telecommuting days frequently, the supervisor may re-evaluate the compatibility of the employee’s suitability for telecommuting and with appropriate notice to the employee, terminate the telecommuting arrangement.
  9. If an employee is required to be in the office on a regularly scheduled telecommuting day, mileage is not paid.
  10. Telecommuting arrangements will vary among departments and business units, depending on the function and responsibilities of the employee.  Each department must maintain some appropriate complement of employees who work on site at the Town of Oakville’s offices in order to function effectively.

Workspace

  1. Employees who are approved for a telecommuting arrangement must have an appropriate work area in their homes that considers ergonomics, appropriate equipment, noise and interruption factors.  Lighting, internet service, power and temperature control should all be consistent with a typical office environment.
  2. The Town of Oakville’s liability for job-related accidents will continue to exist during the approved work schedule and in the employee’s designated work location since the home office will be considered an extension of the Town of Oakville’s workspace.
  3. In the case of an injury while working at home, the employee must report the injury to his/her supervisor or human resources immediately (or as soon as circumstances permit).
  4. A change in an employee’s homeowner’s insurance or coverage is the responsibility of the employee.  Any increases to the employee’s home utility costs are the responsibility of the employee.

Equipment and supplies

  1. In most cases, the employee in the telecommuting arrangement will provide their own equipment.  Prior approval will be required if an employee wishes to use town owned equipment at their off-site workspace.  All items remain the property of the Town of Oakville and may not be used for personal or other purposes.  All equipment must be returned if the telecommuting arrangement ceases.
  2. All office supplies will be supplied by the Town of Oakville and must be returned if the telecommuting arrangement ceases.
  3. The town’s employee technology purchase plan has been designed to provide an affordable way for employees to purchase computer hardware and software, including printers.
  4. All files, programs and electronic content is to be produced using the town standard software technologies based on minimum specifications.
  5. The intent is that telecommuting staff will use the remote computer work environment to ensure that corporate data repositories, proper software and audit controls are maintained.
  6. Town staff are required to use telephone technology supplied by the town to ensure seamless communications with town staff and external clients.

Confidentiality and security

  1. It is the responsibility of the employee to take all precautions necessary to secure all business-related information and to prevent unauthorized access when working outside the Town of Oakville’s office to ensure the integrity and confidentiality of information.  Steps to take to secure information include, but are not limited to, use of locked file cabinets or desks; regular password maintenance; and any other steps appropriate for the job and the environment.
  2. The employee must agree to allow an authorized Town of Oakville representative to access the home workspace during prearranged times for business purposes, for example, safety inspections; equipment installations and repairs; security assurance; and retrieval of town property.

Responsibilities

Employee

  1. ensuring the designated workplace meets the standards as outlined in the procedures
  2. maintains communication with Supervisor, colleagues and clients to the standards set corporately
  3. demonstrated ability to be self-motivated, well-organized and self-disciplined in their approach to work;
  4. ensures service delivery is seamless to all other parties (internal and external)
  5. the employee agrees to be flexible with their time and adjust their work hours accordingly to meet business and/or operational emergencies, demands and requirements
  6. records time accordingly on time sheets
  7. failure to abide by the telecommuting procedure, or associated work rules determined by the supervisor may result in discipline up to and including dismissal.

Supervisor/manager

  1. monitors productivity and maintains communication with the employee regardless of the location of the employee
  2. ensures the approved schedule for telecommuting is not impacting the job duties and service levels/hours of the department
  3. ensures other employees are aware of the location and arrangement
  4. ensures service delivery/service provided is seamless to all other parties (internal and external).

Director

  1. approves or denies the telecommuting agreement and schedule submitted by the employee for telecommuting requests of one day per week
  2. recommends the telecommuting agreement and schedule submitted by the employee for telecommuting request of two days per week to the Commissioner for approval.

Commissioner

  1. approves or denies the telecommuting agreement and schedule submitted by the employee for telecommuting requests of two days per week.

Procedure details

Procedure Number: HR-MNG-001-014
Parent Policy: HR-MNG-001
Section: Human Resources
Sub-Section: Manage
Author: Human Resources Department
Authority: CAO
Effective Date: 2012 Apr 16
Review by Date: 2022