remote work - faqs

Below you will find answers to frequently asked questions regarding the Remote Work Policies, Agreement, and guidelines. 

Current Employees

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All support staff, temporary/on-call employees, and student employees (as well as prospective employees in these categories) who are working remotely and whose remote work site will be within the State of Michigan must adhere to the policy and have an approved Remote Work Agreement (RWA) on file. All employees (including executive managers, faculty, academic staff, and graduate assistants) working outside of Michigan must adhere to the Remote Work Outside of Michigan policy and have an approved RWA on file.

As an employee, you may make a request to your supervisor to allow you to work remotely and begin the RWA process.  Alternatively, management may offer opportunities for remote work where applicable and as identified. Speak with your supervisor regarding any opportunities for remote work and to understand any unit processes that may be in place. 

An electronic RWA form will be available for use in EBS (SAP) on April 8, 2022.  All support staff employees who work remotely should have a new remote work agreement in the system by July 1, 2022.  All employees (including faculty, academic staff, and executive managers) who work outside of the state of Michigan should have a new remote work agreement in the system by July 1, 2022. 

All support staff who are working remotely in any capacity on a regularly scheduled basis will need to have an approved remote work agreement.  Similarly, all employees (including faculty and academic staff, executive managers and support staff) who will be working outside the state of Michigan on a regularly scheduled basis will need an approved remote work agreement. 

Possibly, depending on the details of your remote work agreement. Please discuss possibilities with your supervisor, including any suggested revisions to your agreement.

It is understood and expected that faculty schedules vary and will not require a remote work agreement. However, if an arrangement has been made where a faculty or academic staff member work remotely outside of Michigan, it will require an RWA as outlined in the policy. This does not apply to temporary situations such as sabbatical leaves or study abroad programs.

Yes. Remote work arrangements are handled on a case-by-case basis and each unit determines how work is best performed to meet the objectives and mission of that unit. Since every job, employee, and situation are different, it cannot be assumed that the same decision is appropriate for two similar positions based on job title/classification alone. Supervisors know the operations of their department/unit(s) best and are responsible for final decisions on how to get the work accomplished.

In terms of time spent commuting, under the Fair Labor Standards Act, non-exempt employees are not compensated for time spent commuting to and from work.  This is generally true even if the commute is from the remote work location to an MSU location for a meeting or event.  With exempt employees, the issue is irrelevant as their compensation does not change due to the quality or quantity of work performed.  In terms of travel costs, normal commuting costs are not reimbursable. 

No, a change in job and/or department requires a new Remote Work Agreement.

A current agreement cannot be changed in the system, but a new agreement can be started at any time should the circumstances of an existing agreement change.

Yes, Remote Work Agreements have a start and end date. Supervisors are expected to continuously evaluate the success of such agreements.  It is strongly recommended that a formal review of the agreement is included in the annual review process.  A new Remote Work Agreement can be completed at any time in the system should the circumstances of an agreement change.

No, updating your remote work agreement does not impact your W-4 tax withholding. You should review your W-4 tax withholding information and notify the Payroll Office if your remote work site is outside of Michigan.

No.  Any employee who believes they need an accommodation due to a disability should contact the Resource Center for Persons with Disabilities (RCPD)

Supervisors

All positions should be evaluated by the supervisor for the capacity to include remote work – use the resource guide to assist you in this assessment.  Supervisors are always the first approval for remote work.  For remote work outside the state of Michigan, pre-approval from the MAU leader is required.  Before making any decisions regarding remote work, consult with your MAU leadership to ensure that you are aligned with unit procedures and practices.

Yes. Supervisors and unit leadership determine the feasibility for remote work within the scope and parameters of the operation. All requests must be reviewed fairly and equitably before making a final decision. Supervisors should also be aware of and follow any internal processes established by the unit.

Yes. It is a best practice to have an agreement in place between a supervisor and employee about what the terms of remote work will be. 

Hiring

No, the university will provide an option to indicate if your job is a remote-friendly position with the following language: “MSU strives to provide a flexible work environment and this position has been designated as remote-friendly. Remote-friendly means some or all of the duties can be performed remotely as mutually agreed upon.”

You may use language from the Remote Work Agreement within an Offer Letter to come to terms with a selected candidate prior to their starting at MSU.  Once hired, the new employee will need to initiate the Remote Work Agreement in EBS.  IMPORTANT: For prospective employees seeking a Remote Work Agreement that includes work outside the State of Michigan, the required approvals outlined in the Remote Work Policy: Outside of Michigan apply and must be received prior to making a formal job offer.

Supervisors may use the language below in addition to other pertinent information in their offer letters when offering a remote-friendly position to a candidate: 

As part of your employment at MSU, a remote work arrangement has been approved. Your position will be (XX%) Remote and is subject to the terms and conditions set forth by the university’s remote work policy.  This agreement is in effect for (XX) months and may be renewed upon expiration. The arrangement may be canceled by either party with at least 30 days advance notice or upon shorter notice in any event where the terms of this agreement are violated or the operational needs of the department or university change.

 

The above language may be revised as needed and should not replace other information within the offer letter.

The RWA is not a requirement for the processing of a new hire.  It is an agreement between the employee and supervisor and can be completed at any time, in accordance with any unit procedures in place.  An employee cannot work remotely until an agreement has been completed and approved through the identified channels.

Out of State or International Employees

Approval at the dean/vice president level is required.  There is risk involved in such an employment arrangement if long-term.  In addition, because of the increased risk, if you intend to employ three or more individuals in a different country on the same project, you will consult with the International Advisory Group.  Finally, current policies and processes should be followed as they relate to Visas and Immigration.  Terms of consideration include: if the employee is in a non-immigrant status (F, J, H, TN, O, etc.) the department must consult with OISS BEFORE approving any remote work arrangements. Employees and departments should also be aware that remote work arrangements could require USCIS approval, which could take several months or longer to obtain.

The length of time will be dependent on several factors that may vary as each country will have different considerations. Units should create an internal process to allow time to consult with the necessary offices prior to making an offer.  In all cases, the Dean/Vice President/MAU leader must approve the proposed agreement before a job offer can be made.

Generally, “temporary” will mean six months or less. For example, an employee would like to work from Virginia for two months to be near family. Because the duration is less than six months, this would be considered temporary remote work that is not subject to the conditions in the policy. 

Additionally, note that six months is a rule of thumb. There may be a few limited exceptions to this rule. For example, as noted in the Policy, a sabbatical is a University recognized short-term leave that is not subject to the Policy. However, a year stay outside of Michigan for personal reasons would be subject to the policy.