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Policies and Public Rules

King County Policies, Procedures, Public Rules, and Interlocal Agreements

 

Telecommuting Policy

Document Code No.: PER 18-4 (AEP)
Department/Issuing Agency: Department of Human Resources and Department of Transportation/Transit Division/Service Development Section/Employee Transportation Program
Effective Date: October 15, 2001
Approved: /s/ Ron Sims
Type of Action: New

Signed document (PDF, 397 KB)


1.0 SUBJECT TITLE: Telecommuting Policy

1.1 EFFECTIVE DATE: October 15, 2001 for non-represented employees; as negotiated for represented employees

1.2 TYPE OF ACTION: New

1.3 KEY WORDS: Telecommuting

2.0 PURPOSE: To establish a policy and procedures to encourage, where appropriate, the use of telecommuting (also known as Telework) in order to attract and retain a diverse and talented work force, reduce costs, encourage affordable traffic mitigation, improve productivity among employees, better address work and family demands, and further goals of local, state, and national policies and regulations such as the Clean Air Act and the Commute Trip Reduction law. King County supports telecommuting as an alternative work arrangement and allows supervisors to implement telecommuting arrangements, where appropriate, for eligible employees.

3.0 ORGANIZATIONS AFFECTED: Applicable to all Executive Branch departments, offices, divisions and agencies.

4.0 REFERENCES: None.

5.0 DEFINITIONS:

5.1 "Telecommuting" means working one or more days each work week from home instead of commuting to their centrally located worksite.

5.2 "Voluntary" means employees choose to request a telecommuting arrangement.

5.3 "Centrally Located Worksite" means the King County worksite where the employee would be required to work if they did not telecommute.

6.0 POLICIES:

6.1 Program Agreement and Goals

6.1.1 The telecommuting policy shall supersede all prior and/or existing telecommuting or telework policies.

6.1.2 The telecommuting policy shall apply to all non-represented employees in the Executive Branch. The application of this policy to Executive Branch represented employees shall be the subject of collective bargaining between the King County and the exclusive bargaining agents for those employees.

6.1.3 Executive Branch agencies are allowed to implement telecommuting arrangements, where appropriate, for eligible employees in recognition of the positive personal and management impacts of such arrangements, including reduced commuter stress and traffic congestion, and increased workplace flexibility. Telecommuting can both serve the needs of King County government and its clients, and grant a greater degree of personal freedom to employees.

6.1.4 Telecommuting is not appropriate for all employees. No employee is entitled to, or guaranteed the opportunity to, telecommute. Offering the opportunity to work at home is a management option, based on the discretion of the employee’s immediate supervisor and division manager. An employee’s participation is strictly voluntary. All telecommuting agreements must meet the criteria in this policy and may be terminated at any time by either the employee or the immediate supervisor (although it is recommended that two weeks notice be given if possible).

6.1.5 The policy applies to voluntary telecommuting. The policy does not apply in situations related to telecommuting offered as a result of providing reasonable accommodation for qualified individuals with a disability.

6.1.6 All departments will incur the cost for any expenses they approve for telecommuting agreements.

6.1.7 Expenses for telecommuting agreements require the approval of the department director. The department director may allow division, section or unit managers the authority to approve minimal telecommuting expenses and should set spending limits accordingly.

6.1.8 Implementation and termination of telecommuting agreements within individual agencies will be at the discretion of the employee’s immediate supervisor and division manager.

6.1.9 If a telecommuting agreement is terminated or refused, requests for reconsideration may be submitted to the department director.

6.1.10 An employee wishing to request a telecommuting arrangement shall submit a written request to their immediate supervisor. A telecommuting arrangement must be mutually agreed upon by the employee, the employee’s immediate supervisor and division manager. Any changes to the written arrangement must also be documented in writing and approved by the employee’s immediate supervisor and division manager.

6.1.11 Immediate supervisors should consult with their information and technology representatives and ITS in advance if an employee requires remote access or technology support in order to telecommute.

6.1.12 Immediate supervisors and division managers must set-up telecommuting agreements so that they expire on a routine basis, such as every three or six months (up to a maximum of 12 months). At the expiration of a telecommuting agreement, the employee would have the option to request renewal of the arrangement by filling out another telecommuting application. This process allows immediate supervisors and employees to evaluate and adjust telecommuting arrangements to meet their workload needs.

6.1.13 After an employee begins a telecommuting arrangement, supervisors should conduct periodic reviews with the employee to evaluate the success of the arrangement. It is recommended that a first time telecommuter would be reviewed during the first 45 days, at the end of three months, at the end of six months and after one year.

6.1.14 Should a conflict arise between two or more employees concerning a telecommuting arrangement, the employee’s immediate supervisor shall have final authority to resolve the matter.

6.1.15 Employees may, at the discretion of their immediate supervisor, be called to work at their centrally located worksite on their regular telecommuting workday during their regular work hours to meet workload requirements.

6.1.16 If an employee is telecommuting and during the workday they come in to their centrally located worksite, the time traveling from the employee's home to the centrally located worksite must be treated as "job site" to "job site" travel, and the employee's travel time must be counted as hours worked and compensated accordingly. Whenever possible, when telecommuting employees are requested to report to their centrally located worksite, they should be so notified by the end of the work day prior to the day they are requested to report to the central worksite. In such cases, travel time between home and the central worksite is treated as regular commuting time and is not counted as hours worked and compensated.

6.1.17 The duties, obligations and responsibilities of an employee who telecommutes are the same as employees at the centrally located worksite.

6.1.18 A set procedure and schedule for regular communication between a telecommuting employee, staff and customers must be identified in the telecommuting agreement. Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA)-exempt employees must indicate the hours they will be available to be reached by staff and customers. For non-exempt employees, the telecommuting agreement must indicate the hours the employee will be on work status as well as be available to be reached by staff and customers. Supervisors may also outline specific job assignments and expectations of the telecommuting employee. Work schedule variations are subject to supervisor approval.

6.1.19 For non-exempt employees covered by the provisions of the Fair Labor Standards Act, any hours beyond their normal work schedule must be authorized in advance by the employee’s supervisor.

6.1.20 In order to utilize sick leave on a telecommuting workday, employees must contact their immediate supervisor as early as possible.

6.1.21 Employees who telecommute are expected to be working at their home during their telecommuting work schedule. Personal leave time normally scheduled during a telecommuting employee’s scheduled workday must be arranged in the same manner with their immediate supervisor as employees at the centrally located worksite.

6.1.22 Employees on a telecommuting schedule will continue to accrue vacation and sick leave benefits at the same rate as an employee who is not working a telecommuting arrangement. For non-exempt employees who are covered by the provisions of the Fair Labor Standards Act, vacation and sick leave benefits shall be expended on an hour-for-hour basis. The telecommuting employee’s salary, retirement and benefits also remain unchanged.

6.1.23 Telecommuting shall not be used as a substitute for dependent or child care. Employees who telecommute are expected to make dependent and child care arrangements during the period they will be working at home.

6.1.24 Employees who telecommute will be covered by worker’s compensation for all job-related injuries occurring at their home during their defined work period. The employee is responsible for maintaining a safe and ergonomic working environment, including the work area, bathroom, and other areas that may be necessary for working during the telecommuting arrangement. Worker’s compensation will not apply to non-job-related injuries that occur in the home. The employee also remains responsible for injuries to third parties and/or members of the employee’s family on the employee’s premises. King County will not be responsible for injuries to third parties or members of the employee’s family that occur on the employee’s premises.

6.1.25 In the event of a job-related incident, accident or injury during telecommuting hours, the employee shall report the incident to their supervisor as soon as possible and follow established procedures to report and investigate workplace incidents, accidents or injuries.

6.1.26 The employee must allow home office inspections conducted by the county if a job-related incident, accident or injury has occurred.

6.1.27 Telecommuting employees shall not hold business meetings with internal or external clients, customers or colleagues at their residence.

6.1.28 Employees shall not conduct any unauthorized external (non-county) work during their telecommuting work schedule.

6.1.29 The employee shall participate in any county-sponsored telecommuting and/or technology training as requested by the employee’s supervisor.

6.1.30 The employee shall participate in any county evaluation of telecommuting.

6.1.31 The Employee Transportation Program at (206) 263-4575 or Human Resources Management at (206) 684-1556 can assist with telecommuting program advice or consultation to executive branch agencies.

6.2 Telecommuting Eligibility:

6.2.1 An employee’s work must be of a nature that face-to-face interaction with internal or external customers or project workgroups is minimal and the employee’s tasks can be performed successfully away from the office.

6.2.2 The need for specialized material or equipment in order to telecommute should be minimal. Employees interested in telecommuting must already have a safe and ergonomic home office environment and the primary materials and equipment needed at their home in order to telecommute.

6.2.3 Characteristics of the employee will include a demonstrated conscientiousness about work time and productivity, self-motivation and ability to work well alone.

6.2.4 The employee communicates effectively with supervisors, co-workers, support staff and clients.

6.2.5 The employee operates computer or other equipment independently, to the degree that will be required to work from their home.

6.2.6 The employee must be performing currently at an overall satisfactory level or above in their position.

6.3 Hardware, Software and Supplies

6.3.1 Although the need for specialized material or equipment in order to telecommute should be minimal, the county may provide equipment (hardware and software) and services (such as technical support) if it is approved in advance by the employee’s immediate supervisor, division manager and department director. The department director may allow division, section or unit managers the authority to approve minimal telecommuting expenses and should set spending limits accordingly.

6.3.2 General office supplies (such as paper and pens) will be provided by the county and should be obtained by the employee at the centrally located worksite. Out-of-pocket expenses for supplies normally available at the centrally located worksite will not be reimbursed.

6.3.3 Employees who telecommute from home are subject to the same internal county policies regarding the use of county provided equipment (hardware and software) and services as that of employees at the centrally located worksite.

6.3.4 Employees who telecommute shall not allow anyone, except county employees, to use county provided equipment (including hardware and software) and services.

6.3.5 HARDWARE: New or existing personal computer equipment may be provided on an as-needed basis to employees by the county if approved in advance by the employee’s immediate supervisor and division manager. Telecommuting expenses beyond the minimum spending limit set up by department director will also require advance approval by the department director. This equipment may consist of a personal computer, modem and related supplies. All supplies must be returned to the county as soon as the telecommuting arrangement is no longer valid or if the equipment will no longer be needed by the employee to do their work. The county will provide routine maintenance and repairs for county equipment if the equipment is returned to the employee’s centrally located worksite. Routine maintenance and repairs for county provided equipment that can not be returned in a cost effective manner to the centrally located worksite may be conducted at an employee’s home if it is approved in advance by the employee’s immediate supervisor and is agreeable with the applicable technology support staff person.

6.3.6 Telecommuting employees may use their own personal computer equipment. Employees may consult with their department’s IT support person or the Help Desk for work related assistance for their computer at their own risk. The county will not be able to provide technical support for computer or telecommunications equipment that is not compatible with equipment that is currently supported by the county. Employees will be responsible for the maintenance and repair of their own equipment.

6.3.7 Office furniture will not be provided to employees who telecommute.

6.3.8 SOFTWARE: Employees must conform to the county’s software standards. Departments will consult with their IT support staff to ensure that the software needed conforms to the county’s software policies.

6.3.9 Remote access to the county’s network may be provided to the employee at the discretion of the employee’s immediate supervisor. Remote access may also be updated periodically to the employee at the discretion of the employee’s immediate supervisor. If the county’s remote access system includes internet access or other dial-in services, the employee may only use the county provided internet access or other dial-in services in a manner consistent with that of employees at the centrally located worksite. Employees who telecommute from home are subject to the same internal county policies regarding the use of county provided equipment and services as that of employees at the centrally located worksite.

6.3.10 The county will not purchase or reimburse employees for the cost of an internet service provider or internet use. If the county’s remote access system includes internet access or other dial-in services, the employee may only use the county provided internet access or other dial-in services in a manner consistent with that of employees at the centrally located worksite. Employees who telecommute from home are subject to the same internal county policies regarding the use of county provided equipment and services as that of employees at the centrally located worksite.

6.3.11 The county will not provide or reimburse employees for software that is commercially available for installment on an employee’s personal computer.

6.3.12 The county may purchase or reimburse employees for software that is installed on county provided equipment if approved in advance by the employee’s immediate supervisor and division manager. Telecommuting expenses beyond the minimum spending limit set up by department director will also require advance approval by the department director.

6.3.13 County information stored on an employee’s personal computer may be subject to public disclosure requirements.

6.4 Telephones:

6.4.1 Telephone equipment (such as a fax machine) and service may be provided on an as-needed basis to employees by the county if approved in advance by the employee’s immediate supervisor and division manager. Telecommuting expenses beyond the minimum spending limit set up by department director will also require advance approval by the department director. All equipment must be returned to the county as soon as the telecommuting arrangement is no longer valid or if the equipment will no longer be needed by the employee to do their work. The county will provide for routine maintenance and repairs for county equipment if the equipment is returned to the employee’s centrally located worksite. Routine maintenance and repairs for county provided equipment that can not be returned to the centrally located worksite in a cost effective manner may be conducted at an employee’s home if it is approved in advance by the employee’s immediate supervisor and is agreeable with the applicable technology support staff person.

6.4.2 The county may reimburse an employee on a case-by-case basis for business related long-distance telephone expenses incurred at the employee’s home on telecommuting days if approved in advance by the employee’s immediate supervisor and division manager. Telecommuting expenses beyond the minimum spending limit set up by department director will also require advance approval by the department director. Long distance charges for remote access to the county’s network are permissible if approved in advance by the employee’s immediate supervisor and division manager. Telecommuting expenses beyond the minimum standard set up by department director will also require advance approval by the department director. Reimbursement will require an itemized copy of the employee’s telephone bill.

6.4.3 The county will not reimburse the employee for local telephone calls or service.

6.5 Confidential Information:

6.5.1 The employee will maintain the confidentiality of county information and documents, prevent unauthorized access to any county system or information, and dispose of work related documents in a manner that will not jeopardize the interests of the county.

7.0 PROCEDURES:

Action By Action
Employee 7.1 Makes a written request and submits it to immediate supervisor.
Immediate Supervisor 7.2 Reviews request.
 
7.2.1 May request a written analysis of work tasks from employee.
 
7.2.2 May deny agreement or any equipment or service expenses requested.
 
7.2.3 If agreement is acceptable, forwards agreement for approval to division manager.
Division Manager 7.3 Reviews request.
 
7.3.1 May deny agreement or any equipment or service expenses requested. If denies, provides reason for denial to employee's immediate supervisor.
 
7.3.2 If agreement is acceptable and expenses are under the minimum spending limit set up by the department director, signs agreement and returns to immediate supervisor.
 
7.3.3 If agreement is acceptable but expenses are over the minimum spending limit set up by the department director, forwards to department director for approval.
Department Director 7.4 Denies or grants equipment or service expenses. If denied, provides the immediate supervisor written explanation of why the expenses are not approved.
Department Director 7.5 Informs employee in writing of denial or granting of request for telecommuting arrangement and equipment and service expenses if applicable, including date the arrangement will be implemented and date it will end. If denied, provides the employee with a written explanation of why the request has been denied.

8.0 RESPONSIBILITIES:

8.1 Employees who telecommute or plan to telecommute are responsible for:

8.1.1 Ensuring that a high level of public service is maintained, and that abuses of this policy do not occur.

8.1.2 Initiating a written request if they are interested in entering into a telecommuting agreement.

8.1.3 Reporting to their immediate supervisor as early as possible if they are unable to work on a telecommuting day.

8.1.4 Establishing and maintaining an adequate, safe and ergonomic work space in their home.

8.1.5 Maintaining appropriate care and security of any county equipment used at the employee’s home. Employees who telecommute from home are subject to the same internal county policies regarding the use of county provided equipment (hardware and software) and services as that of employees at the centrally located worksite. Employees shall return all county provided equipment promptly upon completion of their telecommuting agreement. Employees are responsible for maintenance and repair of their own equipment.

8.1.6 Maintaining the confidentiality of county information and documents, preventing unauthorized access to any county system or information, and disposing of work related documents in a manner that will not jeopardize the interests of the county.

8.1.7 Any injuries to third parties and/or members of the employee’s family on the employee’s premises during the employee’s telecommuting work period.

8.1.8 Abiding by all of the terms of King County’s telecommuting policy.

8.2 Immediate Supervisors are responsible for:

8.2.1 Ensuring that a high level of public service is maintained, and that abuses of this policy do not occur.

8.2.2 Reviewing employee requests for telecommuting, denying requests or forwarding eligible requests to division manager for approval.

8.2.3 Providing written notice granting or denying requests and written notice for termination of agreements to employees.

8.2.4 Communicating to the employee performance expectations and monitoring accomplishment of those expectations.

8.2.5 Abiding by all of the terms of King County’s telecommuting policy.

8.3 Division managers are responsible for:

8.3.1 Ensuring that a high level of public service is maintained, and that abuses of this policy do not occur.

8.3.2 Reviewing employee requests for telecommuting, granting or denying employee requests and forwarding equipment and service expenses that exceed the minimum standards set up by the department director for approval to the department director. If they deny an employee’s request, a reason must be provided to the employee’s supervisor, so the supervisor may forward the reason to the employee.

8.3.3 Monitoring policy use by immediate supervisors to insure that the policy is being applied consistently.

8.3.4 Abiding by all of the terms of King County’s telecommuting policy.

8.4 Department Directors are responsible for:

8.4.1 Ensuring that a high level of public service is maintained, and that abuses of this policy do not occur.

8.4.2 Allowing division, section or unit managers to approve minimal telecommuting expenses based on specific dollar limit per employee per year.

8.4.3 Granting or denying employee requests for equipment and service expenses that exceed the minimum standards set up by the department director. If they deny an employee’s request, a reason must be provided to the employee’s supervisor, so the supervisor may forward the reason to the employee.

8.4.4 Monitoring policy use by division managers to insure that the policy is being applied consistently.

8.4.5 Setting up additional procedures for division managers should the director choose to review or track telecommuting agreements with their employees.

8.4.6 Abiding by all of the terms of King County’s telecommuting policy.

9.0 APPENDICES: None.