The University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign is dedicated to maximizing the safety of the on-campus experience for students, faculty and staff. Part of that includes reducing the overall number of individuals on campus. In that spirit, the university strongly supports efforts by units across campus to create flexibility for remote work and telecommuting for university employees.
The university considers telecommuting to be a viable alternative work arrangement in cases where individual, job and supervisor characteristics are suited to such an arrangement. Telecommuting allows an employee to work at home, or other approved remote location, for all or a part of their regular workweek.
Telecommuting employees remain obligated to comply with all University rules, policies, practices and procedures. Violation of such rules, practices and procedures may result in immediate termination of the arrangement and possible disciplinary action.
The decision to offer a telecommuting arrangement is dependent upon the judgment and discretion of the managing supervisor in consultation with Unit/College Human Resources. Either an employee or a managing supervisor can suggest telecommuting as a possible work arrangement.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, the university has adjusted some of its Telecommuting Guidelines to provide more flexibility to units to accommodate remote work requests.
Considerations for remote work arrangements
There are a few considerations for units, supervisors and employees when evaluating remote work options:
General support for remote work
- The university generally encourages units and supervisors to support remote work and telecommuting arrangements if the job in question is appropriate for a telecommuting arrangement. Not every job at the university will be able to be done remotely, but generally, the fewer individuals present in university facilities at any point in time helps social distancing efforts.
Health concerns and at-risk staff
- Staff who self-identify as having health or age concerns that put them in a COVID-19 risk category should discuss with their managing supervisor if their position allows for telecommuting as a possible work arrangement. Employees with health conditions or disabilities are encouraged to contact the ADA Division of the Office for Access and Equity (email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 217-333-0885) to discuss reasonable accommodations.
Dependent care responsibilities
- Telecommuting is not ordinarily designed as an alternative for satisfying an employee’s dependent care responsibilities. However, during the COVID-19 pandemic or similar emergencies, approval of telecommuting agreements due to an employee’s childcare obligations is appropriate due to the unprecedented lack of childcare options and various remote learning models school districts employ for school age children. Units are encouraged to approve telecommuting in these situations as long as the work can be completed remotely. Prospective telecommuters are expected to discuss expectations of telecommuting with family members prior to entering into an agreement, and to establish dependent care arrangements to facilitate work completion.
If you are unable to reach an agreement with your supervisor regarding your remote-work arrangement, please contact your unit HR representative or the Labor and Employee Relations area within Illinois Human Resources at IHR-LER@illinois.edu or 217-333-3105
In addition to any services and support provided by a unit’s local IT team, Technology Services has created a resource for relevant campus technologies during the pandemic.
Visit the remote work essentials page for more technology support and resources.
Unit Plans and COVID Coordinators
The university asked colleges, institutes and major units to create localized unit plans for returning to in-person operations. Additionally, each unit has been asked to identify at least one COVID Coordinator to be the point person for COVID-related efforts for their unit.
Remote workers should review their unit’s plans for the Fall 2020 semester as well as contact their unit’s COVID Coordinator if they have any questions.
The College and Unit Information page has the unit plans and contact info for COVID Coordniators.
Frequently Asked Questions
What about people whose jobs can’t be done remotely but who are in one of the categories for flexibility?
Employees who cannot work remotely but who have childcare obligations or are in the higher risk population can access the benefits under the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA), which provides paid leave for situations related to COVID-19.
What about people who feel unsafe but who don’t meet flexibility criteria such as childcare obligations or health concerns for themselves or a family member and are unable to continue to remote work?
Employees can utilize personal vacation leave benefits, if approved by their unit.
Should all student workers stay remote?
There is no reason for students to be required to work remotely if they have returned to campus and are following on-campus guidelines and requirements. However, student positions whose work can be completed remotely can request to work remotely. Additionally, supervisors may ask student workers who do not comply with on-campus requirements, including on-campus testing, to work remotely until they are in compliance with on-campus requirements.