The University of Wisconsin–Madison recognizes the value of providing flexibility to its employees as flexibility can increase job satisfaction and reduce turnover, increase the university’s ability to attract and retain talent, and maintain or enhance productivity for some roles. Remote work arrangements are one tool for providing this flexibility.
This policy is intended to modernize remote work practices at UW–Madison by providing the framework for remote work options and reflect the evolving nature of the workplace. Because remote work has risks and liabilities, this policy also creates procedures and practices to mitigate these concerns.
Although remote work may be an option for performing work in some circumstances, an on-campus presence for employees is often critical to maintain the highest possible quality of job function or campus service, particularly given UW–Madison is a pre-eminent residential campus where students work and live on or near the campus. Furthermore, on-campus interactions build connections between employees, facilitate quick exchange of information, and help integrate new staff into office culture and operations. A pillar of UW–Madison’s strategic framework is to create a vibrant campus community that advances the university’s missions of scholarship, teaching, and service. Remote work arrangements should not be implemented if they result in diminishing the connections and experiences necessary to achieve this goal, which allows UW–Madison to flourish as a residential campus community.
This policy applies to all employees who are in any of the following employment categories: Academic Staff, University Staff, Limited Employees, Temporary Employees, Post-Degree Training Appointments, and Student Hourly Employees. Employees categorized as Zero-Dollar Appointments also are included. For Faculty and Graduate Assistants (i.e., Teaching Assistants, Research Assistants, and Project/Program Assistants), this policy applies only to out-of-state or international remote work.
These policy provisions do not apply to requests for, or management of, workplace accommodations under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) or any other federal, state, or local law or regulation. Employees seeking workplace accommodations should contact their divisional disability representative (DDR), the Employee Disability Resources Office, or their divisional human resources (HR) office. For matters that relate to possible accommodations based on religious beliefs or practices, employees should contact their divisional HR representative.
At UW−Madison, remote work is viewed as a cooperative arrangement based on the needs of a position, the department or unit, and the university. Remote work arrangements can be pursued in cases where the implementation of these arrangements advances the university’s mission. Remote work arrangements are not appropriate for many roles on campus; however, this policy recognizes and embraces the dynamic, continually evolving nature of work on campus. As new tools and methods for connectivity become available, the university remains open to modifying its approach to remote work arrangements. The efficiency and effectiveness of remote work arrangements will be evaluated regularly.
Each school/college/division (S/C/D) determines the specific procedures for evaluating and approving or denying a remote work request in a manner consistent with this policy and the university’s goals of equity, inclusion, and diversity. The option to work remotely is provided at the discretion of S/C/D leadership, divisional HR, and the employee’s supervisor, and may be modified or revoked as outlined in Section III below. Some positions may require employees to work remotely as part of the expectations for the position.
A remote work arrangement must be agreed upon by S/C/D leadership, divisional HR, and the employee’s supervisor to ensure an arrangement is feasible, secure, reliable, effective, and meets the operational and academic goals of the S/C/D. S/C/D leadership may delegate approval of remote work arrangements to supervisors, but leadership must ensure compliance and alignment with this policy. An employee whose work cannot be performed at a location away from their assigned work location is not eligible to work remotely.
This policy provides direction to UW–Madison employees for remote work within Wisconsin, outside Wisconsin but within the United States (out-of-state remote work), and outside the United States (international remote work). This policy replaces UW-5042 Flexible Work Schedules and Telecommuting Policy issued on November 18, 2005 and revised on March 15, 2020. S/C/D may issue additional policies, guidelines, or requirements that build on the requirements of this policy, but may not waive requirements of this policy nor create requirements which conflict with this or any other university-wide policy.
This policy applies to any new or revised remote work agreements after August 1, 2021. All existing remote work agreements in effect must be re-executed to comply with this policy no later than August 31, 2021.
Employees who work remotely are responsible for all of the following:
S/C/D must comply with an automated workflow process. In certain circumstances, this process may involve consultation with, or provision of technical guidance from, one or more of the following offices depending on the type and location of remote work:
An employee or supervisor may recognize the benefits of a remote work agreement, and either can suggest remote work as a possible work arrangement. The option to work remotely is provided at the discretion of S/C/D leadership, divisional HR, and the employee’s supervisor. An arrangement should be based on operational needs and be in the best interest of the university and employee. Remote work should not cause significant legal, reputational, physical, or other risks for the university, S/C/D, or employee.
There may also be instances in which positions, at the point of advertisement/recruitment or during the hiring process, are determined to be eligible for partial or full remote work arrangements. Standard language is available for use in advertisement, recruitment, and hiring documents. All such positions with a partial or full remote work arrangement will require a remote work agreement, and are subject to the provisions of this policy, including regular review as described below (number 5).
Remote work arrangements are considered on a case-by-case basis by evaluating all of the following factors:
Additional factors that S/C/Ds wish to consider should be discussed with divisional HR.
The work schedule of a remote work employee will be determined by the supervisor and employee with approval by the supervisor and divisional HR before the start of the remote work. This schedule will be documented in the Remote Work Agreement.
An employee who works remotely (full or part-time) is expected to follow the same expectations as employees performing similar duties onsite. An employee who works remotely must:
The rules and regulations governing overtime, compensatory time accrual, and leave time accrual and use that apply at an employee’s designated UW–Madison work location also apply while the employee is working remotely.
The needs for equipment, materials, and supplies for remote work employees will vary based on the position. Equipment provided to remote work employees, and its related costs, are determined, approved, and tracked by supervisors or divisional HR. As the university begins to employ additional staff in remote work arrangements, it is expected to provide additional guidance on what costs and investments for offsite workspaces are allowable.
In general, employees are provided with a single computer (e.g., laptop) for performance of their responsibilities, unless additional equipment is otherwise required by the nature of the work performed. Employees with remote work arrangements are generally expected to provide, at their own cost, internet connectivity at a quality necessary to support their work tasks, including the ability to use university-supported video conferencing tools. For employees who work both remotely and onsite, the university will generally not provide a fully equipped workspace at both locations (e.g., provide laptop for use in all work locations.)
Prior to final approval for remote work, an employee must ensure that their remote workspace has the privacy, physical and technical security, appropriate equipment, software, and internet access to adequately perform their work responsibilities. Employees should reach out to their supervisor or divisional HR for assistance as needed.
Maintenance of any university-owned equipment issued to a remote work employee will be performed only by a university-authorized technician. Maintenance and repair of employee-owned equipment is the responsibility of the employee.
Upon termination of the Remote Work Agreement or employment with UW–Madison, the employee must return all university-owned equipment, materials, and supplies to the university.
A S/C/D with employees working remotely should adhere to information and requirements provided by the Office of Compliance and the Office of Cybersecurity to establish a plan for employees to remotely access needed resources and data in light of the type of information involved, type of computing environment required, and data privacy and security concerns identified as a result of the employees’ job functions and remote work locations. Those with complex needs with respect to requirements, including travel to areas with restrictions, should consult with the Office of Compliance and Office of Cybersecurity in advance of travel.
Remote work allows for flexibility in work options, but it does not change the terms and conditions of employment. Although an employee’s salary and benefits do not change as a result of remote work, there may be payroll, tax, and benefit implications for employees who work remotely from a location outside of the State of Wisconsin or outside the United States. In these instances, divisional HR should consult with the payroll and benefits departments in OHR to determine benefits eligibility, discuss provisions of service, and ensure compliance with relevant payroll and tax laws and regulations.
Supervisors shall provide remote work employees with specific instructions on how to report and what to do in the event a work-related injury or illness occurs. Additional information regarding these instructions and other information related to Worker’s Compensation can be found in the Remote Work Procedures Manual.
Although UW–Madison is a Wisconsin-based employer, the university recognizes that out-of-state remote work may be necessary and beneficial to meet the goals of the university.
Out-of-state remote work is complex and involves increased costs and legal risks to UW–Madison due to employment laws, taxation rules, data privacy and cybersecurity risks, and other compliance requirements in other states. In addition, the university’s Worker’s Compensation coverage and employee liability protections do not automatically extend to locations outside the State of Wisconsin, so special arrangements must be made with Risk Management and OLA before an employee starts remote work from outside the State of Wisconsin.
The university reserves the right to determine in advance whether it will approve an employee’s principal work location to be out-of-state, based on the operational needs of the university and whether the employee can meet performance expectations working out-of-state. Employees currently in state are required to notify their supervisor in advance of their desire to work remotely out-of-state. There may also be instances in which positions, at the point of advertisement/recruiting or during the hiring process, are determined to be eligible for out-of-state remote work arrangements. S/C/D leadership, divisional HR, and the employee’s supervisor decide whether to allow an individual to perform out-of-state work.
An employee who works remotely out-of-state must enter into an Out-of-State Remote Work Agreement. A S/C/D should follow the processes in this policy to understand the obligations and compliance responsibilities for UW–Madison as an employer, ensure that employees are well-informed of the risks and liabilities associated with out-of-state remote work, and mitigate the risks and liabilities for the university and employee.
Employing a globally minded and diverse workforce is essential to UW−Madison’s mission and status as a research-intensive university. To successfully achieve this mission, the university recognizes that a S/C/D may wish to employ individuals who will live and work remotely outside the United States. A S/C/D may employ an international remote worker only if the remote work is for a documented and approved business necessity. Business necessity justification must be approved by the S/C/D leadership and filed with OHR.
Employing individuals to perform work outside the United States is complex and involves increased costs and legal risks to UW–Madison due to employment laws, taxation rules, data privacy and cybersecurity risks, and other compliance requirements in other countries. In addition, the university’s employee liability protections do not automatically extend to locations outside the State of Wisconsin, so special arrangements must be made with Risk Management and OLA before an employee starts remote work from outside the United States.
Prior to approval for international remote work, the following risks and liabilities need to be addressed between the S/C/D, identified campus offices or departments, and the employee. The final arrangements will be reflected in the International Remote Work Agreement. Approval for international remote work may require the expenditure of significant money on outside legal counsel (arranged through OLA), purchase of additional insurance, and consideration of tax laws, regulatory, or other impacts on the university. Payment for the cost of legal fees and insurance is the responsibility of the S/C/D.
A S/C/D should follow the processes in this policy to understand the obligations and compliance responsibilities for UW–Madison as an employer, ensure that employees are well-informed of the risks and liabilities associated with international remote work, and mitigate the risks and liabilities for the university and employee.
If an employee requests a remote work arrangement and the request is denied by S/C/D leadership, divisional HR, or the employee’s supervisor, or if a supervisor modifies or revokes a remote work agreement, the employee may request a review of the decision by the vice chancellor, dean, or director of the employee’s S/C/D. The decision of the vice chancellor, dean, or director is final and may not be appealed. Vice chancellors, deans, and directors should consider equity concerns when making a final decision.
Failure to comply with the requirements and provisions of this policy may result in the immediate termination of any remote work arrangement determined not to be in compliance and/or discipline up to and including termination of employment.
Remote Work Agreement (In Development)
Remote Work Procedures Manual (In Development)
Remote Work Toolkit (Employees) (In Development)
Remote Work Toolkit (Supervisors) (In Development)
Remote Work Workflow (In Development)