Flexible Work Arrangements (FWA) Program for Staff - Effective May 2, 2022
Flexible work arrangements can support the mental health and wellbeing of employees, improve how work gets done, the services students receive, and how teams collaborate. Adopting new ways of working can also enhance job satisfaction and encourage engagement and innovation.
Supervisors are encouraged to:
- Attend a Supervisor Information Session
- Review the Flexible Work Arrangements Program Guidelines
- Determine the best implementation approach/type of flexibility that will be available to staff-based operational needs, student/client expectations, size of the department, etc.
- Meet with their teams to discuss the Flexible Work Arrangements Program Guidelines and the departmental implementation approach
- Provide staff with a deadline for submitting requests and a timeline for review/notification and start.
Staff are encouraged to
- Become familiar with the Flexible Work Arrangements Guidelines.
- Reach out to their supervisor to learn about the FWA implementation approach for their area.
- Discuss with their supervisor their interest in applying for a FWA and together explore potential options for addressing any emerging concerns.
- Complete the required forms for consideration by the supervisor. (starting May 2, 2022)
View/download Resources for Supervisors & Staff
Overview of the Flexible Work Arrangements Program Guidelines
The Flexible Work Arrangements program hopes to achieve the following:
A flexible work environment that supports the overall wellbeing of employees, is aligned with the University’s mission, and contributes to its success.
Guiding principles provide a consistent framework for decision-making. These principles underpin the development and implementation of a Flexible Work Arrangements program.
Student success and the quality of their experience, teaching, and research will be at the center of all flexible work decisions. Decisions will be grounded on the University’s mission, operational requirements, and the potential impact on the internal and external stakeholders.
Service and Position Driven
In making decisions managers will consider a variety of factors such as the operational and service needs of a department/unit at a specific period of time, the work staff do and the impact on co-workers/stakeholders. Flexible work arrangements may not be suitable for all positions and departments.
Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion
The principles of equity, diversity, and inclusion are an important part of the program implementation and decision-making process. The Flexible Work Arrangements program will be evaluated regularly to ensure processes are applied consistently and equitably across campus.
Many factors affect student and mission success such as coming together as a university community to foster respect, collegiality, trust, and the student experience. Regular on-campus presence, in-person collaboration, and community building will continue to be a central part of working at UWindsor.
Voluntary Participation and Transparent Decision-making
Flexible work arrangements should be viewed as possibilities, not a right or guarantee. Participation will be voluntary for staff and contingent on the approval of the immediate manager. Open communication to all parties involved and transparent and objective decision-making will guide the evaluation of requests.
Non-academic staff (permanent full-time or part-time) who have successfully completed their probationary period and whose position would be able to be carried out with the same parameters in a flexible work arrangement are eligible to participate in the FWA program.
While all eligible employees may request a flexible work arrangement, participation in the program is contingent on the approval of the immediate supervisor and the executive leader the unit/department reports to such as the Vice-President, Associate Vice-President, Dean, or Executive Director.
Approval will be grounded on a variety of factors such as the operational and service needs of a department/unit, the essential duties of the position, and the potential impact on the student experience.
Options to be sought by employees who are governed by the terms and conditions of a Collective Agreement must be consistent with the provisions of the applicable Collective Agreement.
Eligible employees may be able to request any of the following flexible work arrangement options:
Flexible Schedule – An employee may request to work a different daily work schedule other than the University’s/department’s regular standard schedule while maintaining the normal regularly scheduled number of hours each day. For instance, starting work later/earlier, having a longer lunch break, etc. The daily schedule may be the same for each day of the week or specific days of the week. For employees governed by the terms and conditions of a Collective Agreement, union approval is required for modifying working hours and working shifts.
Remote Work Arrangement – An employee may request to work at home to perform their duties and responsibilities for an agreed percentage of time not to exceed 40%. The employee must maintain their regular work schedule and reside in a location in the Province of Ontario that would allow them to attend the University in-person as required.
Ad-hoc Flexible Schedule – An employee may request an alternate schedule on a one-off or occasional basis, based on a short-term circumstance.
Ad-hoc Remote Work Arrangement – An employee may request to work remotely on an occasional basis, for a specific incidental reason.
Eligible employees are required to complete the Flexible Work Arrangements Request Form and submit it to their immediate supervisor by e-mail as per the schedule outlined below:
Flexible Work Arrangement to start anytime during:
Fall semester - submit request by July 1
Winter semester - submit request by November 1
Summer semester - submit request by April 1 (for 2022 employees can start submitting requests on May 2, 2022)
Should a request be brought forward outside the above-stated dates, a minimum of a 30-day notice will be required.
Employees are strongly encouraged to discuss their intent to request a flexible work arrangement with their immediate supervisor before completing the request form. These conversations could facilitate alignment and enhance mutual understanding. They are an opportunity to discuss the type of flexible work arrangement sought, the proposed duration, and address any emerging concerns.
The decision to approve or deny a request rests with both the employee’s immediate supervisor and the executive leader the unit/department reports to such as the Vice-President, Associate Vice-President, Dean, or Executive Director. A response to the employee must be given no later than 30 days after the request was submitted.
Supervisors are encouraged to seek guidance from Human Resources with any questions or concerns. Approved requests must be sent to Human Resources to be placed in the employee’s Human Resources File. In those instances where union approval is required as outlined in the Flexible Work Options section, supervisors are asked to contact Human Resources. Human Resources will then contact the union to discuss the request and obtain approval.
Should a request be denied, the supervisor will meet with the employee to discuss the reason(s) for the decision. Should the employee disagree with the decision, they should meet with their supervisor to explore the possibility of alternate arrangements/changes to the initial request based on the reasons associated with the decision. Should the matter not be resolved, the employee can make a request in writing to have the alternate arrangements/changes reviewed by the executive leader the unit/department reports to such as Vice-President, Associate Vice-President, Dean, or Executive Director.
For Ad-hoc Flexible Work Arrangements Requests
The process outlined above doesn’t apply to ad-hoc requests. Employees may request an ad-hoc flexible work arrangement by making a request in writing to their immediate supervisor. Given that these requests are occasional in nature there is no need to complete a request form or obtain approval from the executive leader the unit/department reports to. Supervisors are asked to contact HR should they have any questions regarding the ad-hoc request aligning with provisions of a Collective Agreement.
The decision to approve or decline a request must be fair and equitable. Supervisors must ensure that all requests are assessed fairly, free from biases and that the decisions are grounded on the Guiding Principles of the Flexible Work Arrangements Program.
The following are some key considerations:
- The employee has successfully completed their probationary period.
- The employee will be able to meet the performance requirements and service standards including but not limited to the quality and quantity of their work. To ensure success any outstanding performance concerns or workplace issues have been resolved/addressed.
- The flexible work arrangement is operationally feasible. It should be noted that during peak or critical periods flexible scheduling or remote work arrangements may not be suitable in certain departments/positions.
- The flexible work arrangement will not have a negative impact on the work of other employees or result in added responsibilities for other employees.
- The essential duties of the position are conducive to the type of flexible arrangement requested. For example, remote work arrangements may not be suitable in circumstances such as positions where:
- most or all of the work must be done on campus including but not limited to front-line positions where “in person” interaction is required, maintenance roles, lab monitoring, etc.
- work is required to be performed onsite during peak operational periods.
- the employee requires access to equipment and/or information that is only available on campus.
- The degree to which the position is enabled by remote access/availability of required software, systems, tools, files, and/or processes and degree of dependence on on-campus resources.
- The work can be performed successfully by the employee with a degree of independence from their supervisor and colleagues.
- The employee has a suitable remote workspace (as outlined in the Health & Safety and Ergonomics checklist) and reliable internet access to allow for needed connectivity.
- The flexible work arrangement is consistent with the requirements of the relevant Collective Agreement and/or University policies.
- The employee is able to meet the Terms and Conditions outlined in the Flexible Work Arrangements Program Guidelines.
- Employees continue to be subject to the terms and conditions of employment with the University and continue to be governed by the applicable Collective Agreement, University policies, and/or legislative requirements.
- The employee’s duties, responsibilities, and standards of performance and service delivery must remain the same.
- The Flexible Work Arrangement request must be made in writing using the Flexible Work Arrangements Request Form. The form must also outline the details of the approved arrangement.
- Approved flexible work arrangements must be reviewed at least quarterly by the supervisor. Any emerging issues/concerns must be documented by the supervisor and addressed in a timely manner.
- Flexible work arrangements are expected to have a specific start and end date with a review date not to exceed 12 months, except for positions in academic units, where such arrangements will be revisited every semester. After the specified period, the arrangement must be reviewed and may be extended based on the outcome of the review.
- Employees working remotely must be available to be physically present on campus on those days where they may be otherwise working remotely, as may be necessary due to unforeseen circumstances and/or for in-person meetings, training sessions, or other activities pre-arranged by the supervisor.
- Employees working remotely, cannot conduct any in-person business in their place of residence and are required to be available by phone, chat, and/or videoconference during scheduled work hours, exclusive of breaks and lunch periods.
- Due to tax and other legislative implications, employees approved for a remote work arrangement must remain permanent residents of and perform their work in the Province of Ontario.
- The flexible work arrangement must be consistent with the employee’s regular weekly scheduled hours.
- The days of the week that an employee is scheduled to work remotely, or the flexible work schedule may be structured or fluctuate from week to week with the pre-approval of the supervisor. As outlined in the Flexible Work Arrangements Options section of this guide, union approval is required for modifying working hours and working shifts of employees should the flexible work arrangement not be in keeping with the provisions of the Collective Agreement.
- Flexible scheduling can’t include the accumulation of break times or lunch to reduce the number of hours worked. Breaks or lunch cannot be taken at the beginning or end of the daily work schedule.
- The employee must follow departmental processes for absence reporting and requesting time off.
- Flexible work arrangements are not a substitute for workplace accommodation. Workplace accommodation refers to the University’s obligation under the Ontario Human Rights Code to prevent and remove barriers and provide reasonable accommodation to the point of undue hardship. The principle of accommodation applies to all grounds of the Code but within the context of employment most accommodation needs relate to disability, religion, and family status.
- Where an employee has a pre-existing flexible work arrangement and accommodation needs arise, such arrangement will be reviewed and assessed as part of the Workplace Accommodation process.
- Flexible work arrangements are not a substitute to address periods of leaves that may be required by an employee due to various circumstances such as illness. In these circumstances, employees must follow the processes outlined in the applicable Collective Agreement and/or University policies.
- The University reserves the right to terminate or alter a flexible work arrangement with a one-month written notice. Less notice may be provided in the event of exceptional/unforeseen circumstances and/or due to performance/safety concerns.
- The employee may request to terminate or alter their flexible work arrangement by providing a one-month written notice to their supervisor. Less notice may be provided in the event of exceptional/unforeseen circumstances.
- The flexible work arrangement will be automatically terminated when an employee changes positions at the University. Should the employee wish to continue their flexible work arrangement, a new request must be submitted.
The Employee’s remote workspace is considered an extension of the University’s workplace and therefore will be subject to and governed by the Ontario Occupational Health & Safety Act and applicable regulations.
Employees are responsible for ensuring compliance with health and safety standards and regulations while working remotely including ensuring that their workspace set-up is safe and ergonomically sound. Employees are required to complete the Remote Office Health & Safety and Ergonomics Checklist as part of the Flexible Work Arrangement request process.
In the event of a work-related injury or accident at the remote work location, the employee is expected to notify their immediate supervisor as soon as reasonably possible. More details can be found on the Human Resources website.
For safety reasons employees cannot have in-person meetings at their remote workspace.
The University will not be responsible for injuries incurred by others in the employee’s remote work location. It is the employee’s responsibility to become familiar with and comply with all applicable laws and insurance requirements.
- Employees must take all reasonable steps to protect the confidentiality and privacy of university documents and information while working remotely.
- Employees working remotely must use university-owned computing devices with the proper updates and security to connect to university systems and information. Such devices will continue to remain the property of the university and must be used solely to conduct university work.
- Employees must follow proper computing safety protocols when working remotely including but not limited to the devices being password-protected, using Multi-Factor Authentication, having up-to-date anti-virus software, and connecting through VPN. Employees should familiarize themselves with the working remotely information found on the ITS website.
- University records, personal and/or confidential information must be protected in accordance with university policies and processes to prevent unauthorized access, disclosure, or destruction during transit to and from the remote work location and at the remote work location. This includes ensuring university computers, equipment, and documents are stored in a safe and secure location with safeguards put in place to ensure privacy, confidentiality, and data security.
- Confidential information must not be removed (whether physically or electronically) from the university property without the approval of the immediate supervisor.
- When working remotely, employees must ensure the safe disposal/destruction of any confidential or personal information. It is recommended that the employee disposes of such documents at the university as per departmental processes.
- Employees must immediately report any breach of privacy or confidentiality to their supervisor.
- Guidelines and policies regarding acceptable use and information technology continue to apply while the employee works remotely. These can be found on the Information Technology section of the University’s policy site.
- Employees will be required to complete any mandatory information security and privacy training offered by the university.
- Employees with an approved flexible work arrangement will be provided with access to a university-owned computing device to use when performing remote work. The University will maintain property insurance on university-provided equipment.
- Any additional technology or equipment required to support the flexible work arrangement will be the responsibility of the employee.
- Requests for additional equipment or supplies to facilitate remote work must be made to the direct supervisor and will be assessed on a case-by-case basis based on the availability of surplus equipment or access to funds to cover such expenses.
- Employees are responsible for covering the costs related to the flexible work arrangement and their remote workspace, including costs for home internet access, telephone access, property/liability insurance, or optional technology or equipment not provided by the University.
- The University will not be responsible for damage to individual property or space associated with remote work.
- Employees are expected to notify their supervisor as soon as possible in the event of equipment or connectivity concerns.
- Upon termination of employment or at the conclusion of an approved remote work arrangement, the employee must return all university property (information and equipment) to the immediate supervisor.
- The University will not be issuing the Canada Revenue Agency Form T2200 “Declaration of Conditions of Employment” to employees under any of the FWA options outlined in this document given that none of the options meet the following requirement “The workspace in the home is the place where an employee principally performs the employment duties”.
The Taskforce is currently developing the FWA evaluation plan. Over the next 12 months, the Taskforce will be gathering data to evaluate the program and identify any emerging recommendations.
General questions - e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org
Supervisors, please contact the Staff Labour & Employee Relations team for guidance or questions related to Collective Agreement/University policy implications.