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UCLA Staff Employee Telecommuting Guidelines

Please note: In response to safer at home orders from the State of California (PDF), County of Los Angeles (PDF) and City of Los Angeles (PDF), UCLA has suspended all on-campus operations with the exception of those that are essential and cannot be conducted remotely. As a result, as of March 20, 2020, staff members are working remotely on a temporary basis.

While most of the Telecommuting Guidelines still apply, during the COVID-19 crisis and mandate that staff members work remotely, some of the procedures and processes have been amended to align with the current state of affairs. Until further notice, the Temporary Telecommuting Agreement (for use during COVID-19 pandemic) should be used for all employees who are telecommuting to UCLA as of March 20, 2020. This form is not required for employees who were already telecommuting prior to the health crisis.

If you have any questions regarding the Telecommuting Guidelines or the Temporary Telecommuting Agreement, contact your Employee Relations Consultant in Campus Human Resources at (310) 794-0860. For departments within the purview of UCLA Health, contact Health Human Resources at (310) 794-0500.


References and Related Policies

  • UC-PPSM 31 (Hours of Work)
  • UC-PPSM 32 (Overtime)
  • University of California Electronic Communications Policy
  • UCLA Policy 455: UCLA Email Policy and Guidelines 

A.  General

Department heads may approve telecommuting arrangements as an alternative work arrangement for individual employees where it is in the best interest of the University and the employee. The arrangements should be assessed prior to approval to ensure that operational needs and impact are taken into account. The following guidelines are outlined to help managers, supervisors and employees develop telecommuting arrangements that are equitable, clearly understood by all parties and ensure minimal disruption to the organization. Managers, supervisors and employees are expected to follow these principles in establishing and approving telecommuting arrangements.

B.  Definition

Telecommuting is a work arrangement in which an employee regularly performs work at an alternative or an off-campus site for a specified portion of the workweek. (Field stations or sub locations are established permanent work sites for groups of employees within a department and are not considered telecommuting locations.) Occasional or temporary work off-site, including for example work while traveling on University business or remote monitoring of IT systems, does not constitute telecommuting and does not require the formal arrangement described in these guidelines.

C.  Authority

Department heads have the authority to establish, approve or deny telecommuting arrangements. Department heads are encouraged to give serious consideration to all reasonable requests, but shall give the highest priority to the effective functioning of the division or department.

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D.  Guidelines

The primary criterion for determining approval of telecommuting for any employee is whether or not the arrangement meets the business needs of the department. Eligibility may vary for different types of work arrangements and may depend on the nature of particular jobs, especially those required to deliver direct customer service, manage or direct groups of employees, or provide business-critical support at the primary work location. Telecommuting is normally reserved for employees in exempt positions, since non-exempt positions require careful tracking of time worked to ensure that overtime policies are properly observed. Telecommuting is more challenging for nonexempt employees due to record keeping requirements that require recording of each workday showing when the employee begins and ends the workday as well as meal and break periods.

All proposals should be treated equitably, regardless of the employee’s reason for making the request. The following guidelines are applicable:

  • In any work arrangement, employees will be expected to meet the same performance standards as otherwise required, and supervisors/managers will be expected to use the same performance review criteria that were previously applicable. 
  • To be eligible for telecommuting, an employee will need to have passed the probationary period and have demonstrated satisfactory performance.
  • Employees who propose a telecommuting arrangement should ensure a safe and suitable workspace that is appropriately confidential and free of distractions and interruptions that may interfere with work. Where applicable, telecommuters will need to find ways to maintain a distinct separation between work activities and personal activities.
  • All telecommuting work arrangements are subject to ongoing review and may be terminated at any time, with at least a 30-day notice period provided by either party, based on business and operational considerations. In circumstances where a 30-day notice is not practical because of department operational demands, the department head may adjust the notice period. 
  • The University owns any/all software, data, reports, text and graphics created as a result of work-related activities.
  •  All terms and conditions of employment with the University (e.g. duties, responsibilities, benefits, salary, etc.) remain unchanged as a result of the telecommuting arrangement. 

E.  Responsibilities

Department Head/Manager
or Supervisor
  • Determine whether the employee is a good candidate for telecommuting. (Consider factors such as, but not limited to, completion of the probationary period, satisfactory performance, and the ability to work independently.)
  • Determine that the nature of work is suitable for performance from a remote site.
  • Evaluate and consider how the proposed arrangement will impact other employees or the department as a whole.
  • Approve University equipment for use at remote location.
  • Ensure that University equipment and records in the off-site workspace are maintained in safe and secure conditions and are used primarily for University business.
  • Ensure that University records are available to the department when requested. Employee should consult with department management to clarify any system back-up requirements if work is saved on a system other than the department’s server. 
  • Be available to travel when work so requires.
  • Non-exempt employees must “check-in” with the supervisor or designated person by phone or by email at the beginning and ending of each telecommuting work day. All employees must notify the supervisor (or designee) when leaving the telecommuting site during regular, scheduled working hours.
  • Non-exempt employees must obtain approval from supervisor in advance of working any overtime.
  • Alert the department head if external circumstances are likely to interfere with performance under the telecommuting arrangement.
  • Ensure that customer/organizational needs take precedence over he telecommute schedule.
Employee and Manager/Supervisor
  • Provide time recording systems/forms to record telecommuting hours.
  • Determine how work will be assigned and performance measured.
  • Determine the working hours on telecommuting days.
  • Prevent the arrangement from burdening the employee’s co-workers.
  • Ensure that the employee is readily available, and has adequate means of communication during specific working hours.
  • Arrange for the employee to come to the primary work site when necessary, regardless of the telecommuting schedule.

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F.  Procedures

Request and Review Process

Decisions regarding the appropriateness of a telecommuting arrangement are made on a case-by-case basis. Operational and business needs are a priority in the consideration and evaluation of an employee proposal.

     A. Steps for the Employee to Follow

  1. It is important to consider how the arrangement may impact your work and the work of your colleagues.
  2. Once you have considered the issues, prepare a written proposal and fill out the Telecommuting Agreement form to present to your supervisor/manager.
  3. Schedule an appointment with your supervisor to talk about it.
  4. It is recommended that an initial trial period (usually 3–6 months) be utilized.
  5. Create a contingency plan to respond to unexpected circumstances or changes that may affect your flexible work arrangement.

     B. Steps for the Supervisor/Manager to Follow

  1. Respond to each proposal in a timely manner, to keep the employee informed of its status.
  2. Consider each proposal for a Telecommuting work arrangement on its own merits, and give equal consideration to all requests. If you have questions, ask for assistance or guidance from Personnel Services in Campus Human Resources or Health System Human Resources.
  3. Consult your department head and/or others as required to ensure consistency within your office or department and to gain approval for the proposal.
  4. Keep focused on the organizational benefits derived by supporting the proposal that potentially include reduced absenteeism and turnover and increased productivity and commitment.
  5. If the request is unacceptable, be supportive and, if practical, suggest alternatives.
  6. Encourage the employee to revise the proposal as appropriate.
  7. If the request is denied, clarify with the employee why you cannot approve it.
  8. If the request is ready to be approved, both you and the employee should sign the Telecommuting Agreement form and seek the Department Head’s approval.
  9. Once the Telecommuting Agreement form is approved and signed by the Department Head, determine milestones for checking progress and measuring success.
  10. An initial trial period of 3-6 months is recommended; however, at the discretion of department management, a shorter evaluation period may occur based upon departmental conditions.
  11. Meet regularly with the employee to review the success of the arrangement, especially within the initial trial period. Discuss and re-approve the arrangement at the conclusion of the trial period and then annually.
  12. Review “4 Steps to Set Up Your Workstation” with employee. Additional information on off-site workspace ergonomics is available at UCLA Ergonomics.   
  13. Employees must meet all safety requirements at the telecommute location as requested/required by the University.

     C. Department Tracking Requirements

  • Departments must maintain a current list of individuals with an approved telecommuting agreement. 

G.  Equipment & Telecommunications

  • Normally, University equipment and a University email account shall be used only for University business conducted in telecommuting arrangements. When the department head determines that it is necessary for the employee’s productivity, he/she may purchase, but is not obligated to do so, network access at the telecommuting site. The employee may be responsible for purchasing network access from the remote site.
  • University equipment in the employee’s off-site workspace is subject to the same inventory control and disposal procedures as that in the primary work site. The employee is responsible for bringing equipment to the primary work site for inspection, maintenance and repair. The department will repair and replace University equipment unless it is lost, damaged or stolen through the employee’s clear negligence or abuse. The telecommuting agreement should contain an inventoried list of all equipment including serial numbers or other identifying characteristics (e.g. model numbers).
  • The employee is responsible for ensuring that all data or University specific information is maintained in a secure manner, is backed up or stored appropriately, and that there are no risks of loss or uncontrolled information. This includes electronic records as well as hard copy documentation.

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H.  Health & Safety Liability

The employee is responsible for maintaining a safe and secure work environment including maintaining off-site workspace in an ergonomically sound manner. Supervisors should contact UCLA Ergonomics (mail to: for assistance with employees who report musculoskeletal discomfort related to off-site workspaces. 

I.  Telecommuting Agreement

The telecommuting agreement (see "Model Telecommuting Agreement" agreement in Related Information) should be as specific as possible and should include:

  • Days and hours the employee is expected to work in the department.
  • Hours the employee is expected to be working and reachable at the telecommuting site.
  • Methods of contact (such as dedicated phone line, voice mail, modem, fax, beeper, etc.)
  • Who owns and maintains required equipment and supplies.
  • Who pays for ongoing expenses, such as phone lines and Internet provider costs.
  • A statement that the employee agrees to maintain a safe working environment, and that the employee agrees to hold the University harmless for injury to others at the telecommuting location.
  • A statement that the employee agrees to provide a secure location for University-owned equipment and materials as well as any data, records, or files, and that the University is entitled to reasonable access to such equipment and materials. Incidental personal use of University equipment similar to that allowed in the Department is permitted, but should not interfere with the use of the equipment for University business.
  • A statement that management retains the right to modify the agreement on a temporary basis as a result of business necessity (for example, the employee may be required to come to the primary work site on a particular day), or as a result of an employee request supported by the supervisor.
  • A statement that the arrangement is voluntary and may be terminated at any time by either party with at least 30 days’ notice. In certain circumstances, this period may not be practical and at management’s discretion may be shortened. 
  • A change in percentage of appointment shall automatically trigger a reassessment of the telecommuting agreement. 

The Telecommuting Agreement shall be in writing and shall be signed and dated by the employee, the supervisor and the department head or designee. A copy should be given to the employee and the original should be kept in the employee’s personnel file.

J.  Modification/Termination of an Approved Telecommuting Agreement

Since a Telecommuting Agreement is a business decision, it can be modified or terminated if necessary, with appropriate notice. Some examples follow that could trigger a modification or termination of a flexible work arrangement:

  • Business needs are no longer being met.
  • Job or job requirements change.
  • Performance rating falls below an acceptable level.
  • Current coverage or staffing needs change.
  • Unexpected staff shortage develops.
  • Valid negative client or co-worker feedback is received.

As circumstances, business needs, and job requirements evolve over time, adjustments and modifications may become necessary. As with any other work arrangement, telecommuting arrangements should not be considered permanent. Both supervisors/managers and employees must be responsive to change and should monitor the arrangement to ensure that it continues to meet the needs of the department. In some situations, it may be necessary to discontinue the original plan or seek an alternative. The process used in revising or ending a work arrangement should be just as carefully thought through as when initiating one.

If either the supervisor/manager or the employee determines that the telecommuting arrangement needs to be modified or terminated, at least 30 days’ notice should be provided whenever possible in advance of ending or changing the arrangement.

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