NOTE: Additional information will be forthcoming soon regarding policies and procedures for managing remote work arrangements. Please consult with your local HR representative if you have questions or need guidance on issues related to remote work arrangements.
Telecommuting enables an employee to work off-site for all or part of the workweek on a regular basis. Duke considers telecommuting to be a viable alternative to working from a central Duke worksite in cases where the characteristics of the employee, supervisor, and work are compatible with such an arrangement, and the physical environment, equipment, and technology are adequate to support it.
Telecommuting is a work arrangement that enables a staff member to work at home or another off-site location for all or part of the regular workweek. Telecommuting may be appropriate for only some employees and jobs. It is not an organizational-wide program that is available to all employees and does not change the standard policies, terms, and conditions of employment with Duke. Telecommuting arrangements must comply with federal, state and municipal laws that apply to employees at Duke. This includes, but is not limited to, the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) and Occupational Safety and Health Act (OSHA).
Remote Work Outside of North Carolina
Because the staff member may need to periodically report to work on-site and because work performed by staff living outside of North Carolina may be subject to other state laws, filings, and income taxes, remote work arrangements are primarily for staff residing in North Carolina.
In certain situations, with prior approval of their supervisor and school/division/entity HR leader, exempt staff members only may be able to work remotely from the following approved states/districts outside of North Carolina:
- New Jersey
- New York
- South Carolina
- Washington, DC
All requests for remote work must be approved in advance by the supervisor and school/division/entity HR leader. Employees working outside of North Carolina are subject to state laws, filings, and income tax regulations based on their work location. They must also adhere to all Duke policies, except where a law or regulation applicable to the employee’s remote work location requires otherwise.
At this time, working outside of North Carolina is not allowed for non-exempt staff due to the complexities of various overtime regulations in different states. However, multi-state employment for non-exempt staff will be addressed in a future phase of this effort. Currently, all non-exempt staff are required to work in North Carolina. For nonexempt staff where the department and staff member desires to have work performed outside of North Carolina and not be employed by Duke, the school/division/entity HR team may work with Duke HR recruitment to contact Duke’s employment partner, Aerotek, for more information. The same pathway may be an option, with school/division/entity HR team support, for exempt staff who desire to work remotely in a location not included in the locations listed above.
If an exempt staff member is an essential team member and can perform work remotely from one of the approved states without disruption to the operation of a department, the manager may submit a request to school/department leadership and school/department human resources representative. If approved, the staff member and manager should complete the Telecommuting Agreement form, and staff member’s new primary working address must be forwarded to the school/department Payroll and/or HR representative to update appropriate personnel records.
Before approving an exempt staff member to work remotely from one of the approved states/districts, the manager should consider the following:
- Implement a trial period of 3 – 6 months to ensure remote work is effective and sustainable long term.
- Will employee ever need to visit the school/department North Carolina location and, if so, what is the frequency? Will all or part of travel cost be reimbursed?
- What equipment will be provided to staff member (laptop, cell phone, etc.)?
- Schedule regular virtual check-ins (frequency TBD by manager and staff member)
- Establish expectations for online presence/availability during work schedule (Teams, Zoom, Jabber, etc.)
- Contact your payroll representative to complete the required tax withholding and change of address forms
If you have an exempt staff member moving internationally or to a state not listed on the approved states/districts, please contact your school/division/entity HR leader before having any serious discussions with the staff member regarding remote work possibilities. Such requests are unlikely to be approved, but in extraordinary circumstances exceptions may be granted by Duke University executive leadership after a thorough legal and compliance review.
Typically, a Telecommuting arrangement will specify the number of hours to be worked at home and the specific time in which this will occur (e.g., every Tuesday, the first Monday of the month, etc.). 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 usual time-keeping system. Hours worked in excess of those scheduled per day and per workweek require the advance approval of the telecommuter's supervisor.
Telecommuting is not designed to be a replacement for appropriate childcare. Although an individual employee's schedule may be modified to accommodate childcare needs, the focus of the arrangement must remain on the job performance and meeting business demands.
On a case-by-case basis, the departmental director, with information supplied by the employee and the supervisor, will determine the appropriate equipment needs (including computer hardware, software, and other office equipment) for each telecommuting arrangement. Equipment supplied by Duke will be maintained by Duke. Expenses such as the cost of a reliable, appropriate internet service (e.g. speed and bandwidth), paper shredder, or phone line are not covered by Duke.
Equipment supplied by the employee, if deemed appropriate by Duke, will be maintained by the employee. Duke accepts no responsibility for damage or repairs to employee-owned equipment.
Duke reserves the right to make determinations as to appropriate equipment, subject to change at any time. Equipment supplied by Duke is to be used for business purposes only.
The departmental director may require that the staff member sign an inventory of all Duke property received and periodically update the inventory listing. The staff member must agree to take appropriate action to protect the items from damage or theft. Upon termination of employment, all Duke property must be returned, unless other arrangements have been made.
Consistent with Duke's expectations of information security for employees working at the office, staff who are telecommuting will be expected to ensure the continued protection of confidential, private, and proprietary information received or created off-site as part of their Duke employment and continue to conform with all state and federal privacy laws including HIPAA.
Examples of appropriate measures include compliance with Duke's IT Security Office guidelines and protocols, including use Duke provided anti-virus software and multi-factor authentication for accessing Duke data online. Other measures include use of locked file cabinets and desks, regular password maintenance, safe transport of information when moving from off-site to on-site or vice versa, use of fire-proof safe to store critical documents, and any other measures appropriate for the job and the environment.
Employees are expected to maintain their home workspace in a safe manner, free from hazards. When establishing a home workspace, employees should follow the guidance provided by the Duke Occupational & Environmental Safety Office. Duke will provide each telecommuter with a Safety Checklist that the staff member and supervisor should review at least annually.
Duke's workers' compensation policies and procedures apply to telecommuters. If an employee has an accident and/or is injured while working in a home workspace, he or she must report the incident as soon as possible to his or her supervisor and complete the online injury report within a maximum of 24 hours. Duke's Workers' Compensation will investigate the incident and determine whether it is covered by workers' compensation. Initial medical treatment will be provided by Duke Employee Occupational Health & Wellness, with subsequent treatment directed by Duke Workers' Compensation.
The employee is liable for any injuries sustained by visitors to his or her home worksite.
Whether working on-site or remotely, the process for requesting a reasonable accommodations is the same. Requests must be sent to the Duke Disability Management System for consideration.
Duke's work rules and other policies continue to apply to off-site work locations. Staff members that are telecommuting are expected to be available and communicative during scheduled work hours. In addition, staff members working under a telecommuting arrangement will come on-site for periodic meetings and interactions with the supervisor or other work-related needs.
Supervisors may require their staff members that are telecommuting to sign a Telecommuting Agreement that details additional performance expectations.
Forms & Resources
If you're ready to formalize a remote working arrangement, start by reviewing the necessary templates, forms, and checklists. You can also find access to helpful videos for staff and managers to make remote working arrangements work better for you and the department.