Work. With Flexibility. FAQs

This page will be updated regularly as we add new questions and answers related to Work. With Flexibility. guidance.

Work. With Flexibility. Basics

Q. What is flexible work?

A. These are defined individually but can be combined for any individual work arrangement:

  • Flex Schedule/Flex Time. A flex schedule/flex-time arrangement permits variations in start and departure times, but does not alter the total number of hours or days worked in a work week.
  • Compressed Work Week. A compressed work week is a schedule where the total number of hours worked each week are scheduled in less than five full workdays. The most common compressed schedule is four 10-hour workdays per week.
  • Reduced Work Week (Part-time)/Reduced Work Year. A reduced work week or reduced work year arrangement allows an employee to reduce their time commitment to the University on a permanent or temporary basis (e.g., reduction from 1.0 FTE to .75 FTE or a 12-month to 9-month appointment). Consultation with an Employee Relations representative in OHR is required to determine feasibility, length of time, and impact on pay, benefits, and taxes, as well as if there are other policies that may apply to the request.
  • Remote Work/Flex Space. Remote Work allows an employee to work from home or another off-site location for a specified number of hours or days per week. This could include working from a remote location all of the time, occasionally, or a hybrid arrangement where the employee’s schedule includes a blend of remote work and work at a University location.
  • Job Sharing. Job Sharing refers to a form of regular part-time work in which two people share the responsibilities of one regular full-time position. Job responsibilities, tasks, and hours may be split evenly or unevenly between the two individuals. Consultation with an Employee and Labor Relations representative in OHR is required to assist in determining feasibility, duration of time, and impact on pay and benefits, as well as if there are other policies that may apply to the request.

Q. Can employees work outside of Minnesota?

A. Because we are a land-grant institution that serves the state, the University will continue to—in most cases—expect employees to live in Minnesota. There are some exceptions in which employees may work outside of Minnesota:

  • When the employee is living out of state temporarily and plans to move or return to Minnesota.
  • When the unit or college is able to demonstrate that the unique skills or talents of that employee are difficult to find in Minnesota.
  • When the nature of the work requires it to be carried out somewhere other than Minnesota.

Please note, current employees who live in bordering states may continue to do so without an exception.

Beginning August 2, 2021, colleges and units will be required to request an exception for new hires and existing employees who wish to reside out of state. When employees work outside of Minnesota, it requires both the University and the employee to accept accountability and to abide by the unique employment and tax laws of that state. Therefore, any new hires or relocations that would potentially result in out-of-state work must be reviewed by the most senior leader of a unit or campus, and consulted with the HR vice president, senior vice president, provost, and Office of the General Counsel.

Supervisors should notify their local human resources team if they learn that a current employee is moving out-of-state or if they are considering hiring someone who lives outside of Minnesota.

Q. What resources are available to employees who currently work, or would like to work outside of the United States?

A. Questions about working internationally will be handled on a case-by-case basis. Please email gpshr@umn.edu.

Supervisors

Q. What resources are available to help supervisors make decisions about flexible work arrangements on their teams, and manage teams with different arrangements?

A. Leadership and Talent Development in the Office of Human Resources has developed resources to help supervisors build the skills needed to make decisions about working with flexibility and managing flexible teams.

Supervisors will be able to access these materials at supervising.umn.edu:

  • Preparing for Flexible Work Arrangements Worksheet. This worksheet will help supervisors evaluate flexible work decisions.
  • Flexible Work Arrangement Discussion Guide. Supervisors can use this guide in discussions with their employees about the kind of flexible work their job responsibilities will allow, as well as setting expectations and addressing potential challenges.
  • Quick Guide to Managing Flexible Teams. This quick guide will help supervisors to identify and build the skills needed to successfully manage their flexible teams.
  • “Working with Flexibility” webinar. This webinar will premiere on June 16 and be available for supervisors to view to build the skills needed to prepare to work with flexibility and manage flexible teams.

Employees

Q. When will I know what my campus, college, or unit Work. With Flexibility. plan is?

A. Local leaders will define how best to adopt University guidance for their college, unit or department, working in close coordination with supervisors, faculty and staff. Leaders and supervisors will communicate their plans to employees by July 19, 2021. No one will be asked to change their existing work arrangement without adequate notice.

Q. I disagree with my supervisor’s decision about my flexible work arrangement. What recourse do I have to challenge it?

A. Campuses, colleges, and units should make plans for flexible work arrangements within the bounds of the guidelines and account for employees’ perspectives. Flexible work arrangements work best when processes and decisions are transparent and clearly communicated. However, if you are dissatisfied with the arrangement made for you, your first point of contact to discuss the matter further after your supervisor is your department HR leader.

Q. How will parking and transportation services be addressed in light of the new Work. With Flexibility. guidance?

A. Please check with Parking and Transportation Services for information about parking and transportation matters. You can also refer to the Work. With Flexibility. Updates page for news as it becomes available.

Remote and Hybrid Work

Q. Will the University pay for internet and phone expenses for remote and hybrid employees?

A. No. The employee is responsible for internet and phone expenses when working remotely.

Q. What resources are available to ensure proper ergonomics in an employee’s remote home office?

A. The Department of Environmental Health & Safety (DEHS) can assist with ergonomic guidance, training and assessments.

Use the links below for more information:

Accommodations

Q. What accommodations are available to employees with disabilities or other medical concerns?
A. An employee with medical concerns may request a flexible work arrangement as an accommodation.

If the college or unit has concerns about the potential operational impact of the requested flexible arrangement, then they must provide the employee an opportunity to make a formal request for the arrangement as an accommodation.

Under such circumstances, in order to ensure compliance with our obligations under the Americans with Disabilities Act, the Disability Resource Center, or appropriate campus resources, will be responsible for reviewing the request, directing the interactive process, and, in consultation with the unit, determine whether the requested accommodation is reasonable or an undue hardship.

Disability Resource Center, or appropriate campus resources, can help with these common scenarios:

  • Employees who need to continue working remotely due to an underlying medical condition.
  • Employees who are caregivers for or live with someone who is at risk for COVID-19.

Employees who are concerned about exposure to COVID-19 can consult with DRC/UReturn or their campus resource on appropriate PPE.

Q. Will the University provide flexibility for families with child care needs?

A. While remote or hybrid work is not a substitute for child care, all units should consider options that provide employees with the flexibility to meet intermittent childcare needs such as during illness, snow days, etc.

Civil service and AFSCME-represented employees currently have 16 hours of sick time per incident that can be used for child care because of school closures.

Employees requesting remote or hybrid work arrangements are responsible for ensuring ongoing childcare arrangements to allow for uninterrupted work time and focus.