Flexible temporary work policy addresses work-life balance and sustainability goals | University time

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By SUSAN JONES

If the last year and a half has taught us anything, it’s how to be flexible.

INFORMATION ABOUT FLEX WORK

A new page on flexible working at Pitt is now available on the Office of Human Resources website, which includes:

  • The flexible temporary work policy

  • An overview of flexible working arrangements

  • Flexible work request forms

  • Faq

  • Contacts for further assistance

Supervisor training

Three optional workshops are offered in July to help supervisors think creatively about the options available; have productive conversations with their team members and make decisions in accordance with Pitt’s policies.

The sessions, which can be found on the university calendar, are:

  • 10-11 a.m. July 7

  • 1:00 p.m. to 2:00 p.m. on July 13

  • 10-11 a.m. July 22

Last year, Pitt employees were forced into remote work situations that many had sought for a long time before the pandemic. Now, the University is using the lessons it learned in 2020 to create a new flexible interim work policy that will take effect in July as many staff begin to return to campus (see related article).

The new policy, which can be accessible here with Pitt ID, was discussed at a general staff meeting (find the register here) and the staff retreat on June 15, at the June 16 Staff Council meeting and during supervisor training sessions this week.

In all of these meetings, Pitt officials stressed that any flexible working arrangement would prioritize the business needs of the University, but as Mark Burdsall, Deputy Vice Chancellor of Human Resources, told City Hall: “I would like to reiterate that the University In order for work-life balance and campus sustainability goals to be achieved by encouraging units, supervisors and responsibility center leaders to really examine, is there opportunities to offer flexible work where possible.

Diane Chabal, head of the HR Organizational Development department who led the supervisor training session, said flexible work policies can also improve employee recruitment and retention. “People want, in most cases, more flexibility and choice in the way they work, the way they work and where they work.”

The current pre-pandemic policy was not very welcoming or encouraging flexible working arrangements, Chabal said.

A flexible working regime is a regime in which:

  • The employee works remotely all or part of the time.

  • The employee works days other than his usual working days.

  • The employee works different hours, other than his usual working hours.

The policy applies to all full-time and part-time staff, including temporary employees and students.

Burdsall said the key to any flexible work arrangement is communication between staff, supervisors and responsibility center leaders. “What we have to consider is the efficiency, the yields, and also all our well-being,” he told City Hall.

The main differences in the new interim policy are as follows:

  • If you are working remotely, in a hybrid environment, or changing your work schedule, you will need to sign a flexible work form with your supervisor to confirm when you will be working remotely.

  • The form also requires that you designate a work area, usually at the employee’s home. “This is included to ensure that supervisors are aware of workplaces remote from staff members and that they are free from safety risks,” Burdsall said. “An employee can change their designated work area with the approval of their supervisor. Additionally, the Office of Human Resources coordinates with the CFO’s area to ensure compliance with taxation and other requirements, particularly for work areas outside of the Commonwealth. “

  • Flexible working can occur during an employee’s temporary period.

  • Services that cannot offer this flexibility, such as Pitt shuttle drivers, can complete an opt-out form.

  • It also allows supervisors, the university or a unit to direct employees to flexible work, as many of us were asked to do last year.

Human resources officials stressed that the new policy does not apply to people requesting accommodations due to health concerns. These cases should all be directed to Resources and services for people with disabilities.

And whether or not an employee works on campus, entirely remotely or in a hybrid arrangement, Burdsall said, it shouldn’t have any impact on their status, annual review or salary. “All employees will be treated fairly in all workloads and all locations,” he said. “Each employee is important to the whole University. “

Any employee working remotely will be subject to certain universal standards – including the designation of a work area – to ensure quality, safety, accountability, confidentiality and data security:

  • Anyone with a flexible employment contract will need to take online training, and people handling high-risk data will need to use a device owned and managed by the University. If the University provides computer equipment, it remains the property of the University and may only be used by the employee for professional purposes.

  • Workers’ compensation reporting will continue. If you have suffered a work-related injury under these flexible working arrangements, you will need to report the injury within 24 hours using the standard reporting process.

  • Employees will need to make appropriate child and dependent care arrangements so that they can complete their work without interruption and focus on what needs to be done.

If there is a change in an employee’s working hours, supervisors must obtain approval and ensure that the change is clearly communicated to the employee. This is especially important for non-exempt (bi-weekly) employees, said Laura Ainsley, human resources learning and development specialist, during supervisor training.

“We are all familiar with that sense of creep at work that comes into our personal lives,” she said. “We need to be really, really mindful of making sure that non-exempt people still have these protections, and that we communicate that we don’t want them to have to work beyond the standard deadlines that have been set. “

Chabal said she sees this as a time for supervisors to reflect on the past year and what has worked about the remote arrangements – “there are some very positive things you want to move forward on, but there are some really positive things you want to do. there might be some things you need to tighten up a little bit. “

One question supervisors can ask, said Chabal, is what exactly constitutes a legitimate business reason for granting a flexible labor agreement. “Can this mean that we as supervisors can say that it is good for our business to recognize that our employees want to have some work-life balance? This can, she says, “especially if the employees can do the job.” And I think a good indicator of that is whether they’ve been able to do the job flexibly over the past year. … If this is something that works and if your team has been able to work together and stay engaged, it is definitely something that you can justify as a business reason if you are able to meet the needs of… people. that you served.

Supervisors will be asked to review flexible working arrangements each year, and agreements can be terminated or changed at any time.

Several questions were raised about the new flexible agency work policy during the various forums this week. Below is a summary of these questions and answers.

Will there be an appeal process if an employee feels they are able to work flexibly but a supervisor disagrees?

If you think your work can be done remotely and your supervisor wants you to come back, you should discuss this directly with your supervisor to determine how much flexibility is or is not possible based on business needs. Explain your point of view and actively listen to their reasons for asking you to work in person.

If a supervisor denies or modifies a request, it will need to be sent to the CR manager for approval and the supervisor must provide a legitimate business reason for denying and modifying the request, Chabal said. The social and social relations department is also a partner in this process, she said.

What happens if one unit does not allow flexible working arrangements while another with similar tasks does? How do you manage these disparities?

“The training of supervisors on interim policy includes fairness in decision-making based on the demands of the job,” said Dave DeJong, senior vice chancellor for business and operations, in response to a question sent by mail. electronic. “Beyond training, we are working with RC leaders to set expectations in the pursuit of consistency and equity among RCs. The comments will be used to finalize the policy over the coming year.

Is there a university level policy on the working time required in this new flexible policy to reserve office space or is this department / building specific?

The terms of each flexible working arrangement differ by unit and role and are based on the needs of the unit. However, there is no predetermined minimum or maximum number of days required on campus in the policy itself.

Susan Jones is editor-in-chief of the University Times. Reach her at [email protected] or 724-244-4042.

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