Brown University considers telecommuting to be a viable alternative work arrangement in cases where it is mutually beneficial for Brown and the employee. Telecommuting is routinely working one or more days per week at a location other than an employee's regularly assigned place of employment under an agreement approved pursuant to this policy. This policy covers off-campus work arrangements for all or part of a work week on a regular basis. It is not intended to cover temporary, irregular situations.

Telecommuting is available at the University's discretion only. The existence of a telecommuting agreement in no way alters an individual staff member's employment relationship with Brown or the employee's obligation to observe all applicable University rules, policies and procedures. All existing terms and conditions of employment, including but not limited to the job description, salary, benefits, vacation, leave and overtime remain the same as they would be if the staff member worked only at his or her regularly assigned location on or off campus where the employee usually and customarily reports for work. The regularly assigned place of employment is considered the employee's workstation for all pay, leave and travel purposes.


The decision to allow telecommuting will be made on a case-by-case basis for each employee with the understanding that approval can be rescinded at any time should circumstances change. Telecommuting is appropriate only when both the abilities of the employee and the nature of the work to be done meet the minimum feasibility criteria set out below. Supervisors may apply more rigorous criteria when determining whether an employee and a position are appropriate for telecommuting.

General criteria for considering a telecommuting arrangement:

  • The employee must not be in a probationary period of employment.
  • The employee has demonstrated sustained high performance, and the abilities to successfully organize and manage time and work independently and productively with minimal supervision have been documented in Performance Appraisal Forms.
  • The employee has a thorough knowledge and understanding of their job functions and the equipment required to telecommute.
  • The manager believes that the employee can maintain the expected quantity and quality of work while telecommuting.
  • All or significant components of the work can be done at the off-campus work site. The employee's position has an emphasis on the electronic production and/or exchange of information.
  • The employee's position involves measurable or quantifiable work product.
  • Operational needs of the department are met.The employee is able to provide the security necessary to protect any University equipment used at the site.

General criteria for when telecommuting should not be considered:

  • The nature of the job requires the employee's physical presence (for example, where the employee must supervise the work of other employees).
  • The employee requires close or frequent supervision, direction or input from or to others who are on-site.
  • The employee requires access to information or materials that are available only at the regularly assigned place of employment.
  • The employee's performance evaluations do not indicate sustained high performance, or do indicate a record of disciplinary action or a demonstrated attendance concern.

Telecommuting is not intended to permit employee to have time to work at other jobs, run their own businesses, or to provide child care or elder care during their scheduled work hours. Failure to fulfill normal work requirements, both qualitative and quantitative, may be cause for disciplinarily action or termination of the telecommuting arrangement and/or the employment relationship.


All telecommuting arrangements are granted on a temporary and revocable basis, and may be discontinued by the University at any time and for any reason. In addition, an employee may discontinue participation in telecommuting at any time.

A new Telecommuting Agreement must be submitted each fiscal year.

Guidelines and Requirements for Telecommuting Agreements

Employees wishing to telecommute must complete and sign a Telecommuting Agreement each fiscal year. The Telecommuting Agreement also must be signed by the employee's direct supervisor and the supervisor's department head. Signed Agreements should be forwarded to the Human Resources Department for approval. Approved Telecommuting Agreements will be included in the employee's personnel folder. Telecommuting cannot begin before the signed Agreement has been received in Human Resources and approved.

Telecommuting employees are expected to follow established Brown University policies, procedures and guidelines. To ensure adherence to best practices for securing computer hardware and software, telecommuting employees and their supervisors should inform the Chief Information Security Officer of the telecommuting arrangement.

A specific work schedule, including work days and hours, must be established in writing. Telecommuting employees must maintain a normal workload, and when they are unable to work due to illness report their absence to their supervisor according to normal established departmental and University procedure. Employees who wish to be relieved of responsibility for work for all or part of a scheduled work day or days must follow departmental procedure for requesting time off, and must use vacation or unpaid time and/or a leave of absence as appropriate. Telecommuters are required to maintain accurate time records to support and substantiate their work hours and work products. Overtime work must be approved in advance by the supervisor in accordance with Brown policy and the requirements of the Fair Labor Standards Act. Failure to comply with this requirement can result in the immediate cessation of the telecommuting agreement.

Employees must be on-site as necessary to attend meetings, training sessions or similar events or occurrences as agreed upon with the supervisor, which in most cases should be no less than one time per week. The operational needs of the University take precedence over telecommuting arrangements. A telecommuting employee, after being provided as much advance notice as possible, must report to work at the regular assigned place of employment on a scheduled telecommuting day when required by the supervisor. There shall be no additional pay for telecommuting, nor shall mileage by paid or reimbursed for transportation between an employee's telecommuting site and Brown University.

University equipment such as computers, printers, fax machines and other equipment located at the remote work site is subject to all policies and restrictions related to use of University-owned property. Telecommuting employees are responsible for any euqip0ment and software that is used at the remote worksite and accept financial responsibility for any equipment that is lost, stolen or damaged because of the employee's negligence, misuse or abuse.

Taxes and Insurance

Income taxes will be withheld based on employment at Brown University in Rhode Island, not on the location from which the employee telecommutes. Telecommuting employees are responsible for tax consequences and other legal implications that may occur, including local zoning restrictions.

The University assumes no liability for injuries occurring in the employee's home workspace outside of work hours. Telecommuting employees are responsible for notifying the Office of Insurance & Risk if they are injured while at the off-campus work site and in conjunction with their regular work duties. The employee is liable for any injuries sustained by visitors to the remote work site.


Consistent with Brown University's expectations of information access security for employees working on-site, telecommuting employees will be expected to ensure the protection of University equipment and information accessible from their homes or other remote workspaces. Under no circumstances shall Brown University data be stored or downloaded on an employee's personal computer.