REG0 05.55.10 Flexible Work Arrangements

Authority: Chancellor

First Issued: August 31, 2021. Effective: October 1, 2021. 

Related Policies:
UNC Policy Manual 300.8.6[R]
NCSU POL 04.25.05 (Equal Opportunity, Non-Discrimination, and Affirmative Action Policy)
NCSU POL 08.00.01 (Computer Use Policy)
NCSU REG 01.25.12 (University Records Retention and Disposition)
NCSU REG 04.00.04 (University Standard Business Hours)
NCSU REG 04.20.04 (Workers’ Compensation)
NCSU REG 05.00.02 (Reasonable Accommodations in Employment)

NCSU REG 07.30.14 (Home Use of Equipment)
NCSU REG 08.00.2 (Computer Use Regulation)

Additional References:
State Human Resources Manual – Teleworking Program
University Human Resources – Fair Labor Standards Act
Ergonomics and Safety Working Remotely

Contact: Associate Vice Chancellor for Human Resources, (919-515-3443)


1.  Purpose

1.1 North Carolina State University (NC State) recognizes that flexible work arrangements can benefit both the university and its employees by enhancing productivity while providing for workplace flexibility. Flexible work arrangements are working options that involve adjustments to an employee’s work schedule, hours, and/or work site to effectively accomplish the duties and responsibilities in the employee’s position. Flexible work arrangements serve to recruit and retain a diverse and talented workforce, increase employee commitment to the institution, reduce turnover and absenteeism, provide an employee incentive, address campus space constraints or budgetary challenges.

1.2 As a public employer, NC State has a special obligation to ensure that its resources are being used in an efficient and productive manner. Accordingly, flexible work arrangements must be designed to meet operational needs and to maintain expected levels of service. While departments are encouraged to consider flexible work arrangements for their employees, flexible work arrangements are always within the department or unit’s discretion, and any such arrangement must be accompanied by appropriate measures for employee accountability.

1.3 This regulation establishes the types of flexible work arrangements available at NC State, the eligibility for participation in such arrangements, and the procedures for approval, implementation, and oversight of flexible work arrangements. This regulation does not create a universal guarantee, right, or entitlement to a flexible work arrangement. Moreover, not every position lends itself to flexible work arrangements, nor may every proposed flexible work arrangement be approved. Any flexible work arrangement is subject to change at the discretion of the college/division and/or unit’s management and the university.

1.4 This regulation is not intended to apply to positions that have been assigned a permanent duty station that is off-site (i.e., not located on a university owned or operated property). This regulation applies to positions with a designated on-site university duty station.

2.    Eligibility/Participation in Flexible Work Arrangements

2.1 Covered Employee Categories

2.1.1 The following employee categories are covered by this regulation, however, not all employee categories or positions may be eligible for flexible work arrangements:

  1. SAAO Tier I and Tier II employees;
  2. EHRA non-faculty employees;
  3. EHRA professional faculty in the Libraries;
  4. SHRA employees;
  5. Post-doctoral scholars and House Officers;
  6. Temporary employees; and
  7. Graduate and undergraduate student workers

2.1.2 The following employees are not covered by this regulation:

  1. EHRA faculty;
  2. County-based NC Cooperative Extension employees; and
  3. Employees with a special temporary off-site assignment

2.1.3 The university may implement and utilize flexible work arrangements in extraordinary situations (e.g., catastrophic weather event; pandemic disease; physical damage, destruction or unavailability of a worksite; etc.) regardless of whether the employee is covered by this regulation. In such cases, temporary flexible work arrangements will be structured around operational needs of the university and subject to university and/or UNC System issued guidance and are not subject to this regulation.

2.2 General Considerations for Flexible Work Arrangements

2.2.1 Flexible work arrangements may not be available in all organizational units or for all positions. Specific flexible work arrangements are determined by Management (for purposes of this regulation, management includes immediate supervisor and/or next level manager(s)), and may be affected by the nature of the work performed, employee productivity, task interdependence, operational constraints (including but not limited to budgetary availability to provide for basic office equipment and supplies), or state and federal law. In addition, the nature of the employee’s duties and responsibilities must be conducive to a flexible work arrangement without causing disruption to performance and/or delivery of services, as determined by management. Newly hired employees are eligible for flexible work arrangements. Positions (existing and newly created) may be designated as eligible for flexible work arrangements.

2.2.2 To be eligible for consideration and continued participation in a flexible work arrangement, an employee must have a satisfactory attendance record, must meet all performance expectations (e.g., overall “meets expectations”) and conduct requirements of their current role, and consistently demonstrate the ability to complete tasks and assignments on a timely basis.

2.2.3 The employee’s immediate supervisor must be able to effectively monitor and assess the work and performance of an employee with a flexible work arrangement, including ensuring compliance with federal wage and hour regulations.

2.3 Management Discretion and Revocation of Flexible Work Arrangements

Participation in a flexible work arrangement is not an entitlement or right of the employee. Once established, a flexible work arrangement may be altered or revoked at any time at the discretion of management. Reasons for changing or revoking flexible work arrangements can include, but are not limited to, changing business or operational needs, or unsatisfactory employee performance or conduct. The decision to approve participation in or revoke a flexible work arrangement at management’s discretion is not subject to a grievance under any applicable University grievance procedure or the State Human Resources Act. Where possible, Managers should provide at least thirty (30) calendar days’ notice to an employee prior to altering or revoking the employee’s established flexible work arrangement. Exceptions to this minimum notice may be made, in consultation with University Human Resources, due to employee misconduct, safety issues, an immediate change in the business and/or operational needs of the unit or department, and/or significant or sustained performance deficiencies, which may require a shorter notice period.

2.4 Equity

Eligibility and participation in a flexible work arrangement shall be based on applicable objective factors and administered in compliance with NCSU POL 04.25.05, Equal Opportunity, Non- Discrimination, and Affirmative Action Policy. In addition, when determining flexible work arrangements for employees, management should strive to ensure that duties continue to be divided equitably among employees.

2.5 Review and Assessment

Continuation of an ongoing, established flexible work arrangement will be reviewed annually by the manager and employee (e.g., in the employee’s performance management planning meeting, at the end of the fiscal year, etc.) to assess the effectiveness of the flexible work arrangement. Managers also have the discretion to establish a trial or pilot period (i.e., 1-3 month increments not to exceed six months) for a flexible work arrangement prior to approving the flexible work arrangement on an ongoing basis.

2.6 On-site Work Space and Hoteling

Employees whose work schedule and duties and responsibilities make it conducive for the sharing of space may be assigned shared on-site work space or hoteling space (co-working space utilized by remote/teleworking employees) based on management’s assessment of operational needs and necessary on-site workspace. The amount of time spent on-site shall be a key determinant in management’s decision.

3.    General Terms and Conditions of Flexible Work Arrangements

3.1 An employee’s duties and responsibilities should not substantially change due to a flexible work arrangement.

3.2 The total number of hours that an employee is expected to work during their established work cycle (i.e., 40 hours/one week, 80 hours/two weeks, etc.) will not change when approved for a flexible work An employee’s compensation and benefits will not change due to a flexible work arrangement, with the exception of a decrease to an employee’s full-time equivalency (FTE) or reduction in work hours, should these changes in circumstance apply.

3.3 The policies, rules, and regulations that apply to an employee’s position shall remain applicable to the employee when participating in a flexible work arrangement, and all employees are expected to comply with all applicable policies, regulations, and rules of the UNC System and NC State, as well as with state and federal law.

3.4 Flexible work arrangements are not to be used as a substitute for a reasonable accommodation in employment (however, a flexible work arrangement might be a reasonable accommodation in employment if granted through the university’s reasonable accommodation processes). Flexible work arrangements shall be reviewed and approved separately from a request for a reasonable accommodation in employment. Flexible work arrangements as reasonable accommodations in employment under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) or Title VII should be directed to the Office for Institutional Equity and Diversity (OIED).

3.5 Employees with a flexible work arrangement must be able to balance their duties with other external obligations and must perform their duties and responsibilities free of external interruptions to the greatest extent practicable.

4.    Types of Flexible Work Arrangements

The following types of flexible workplace arrangements available to employees may include:

  1. Flexible Work Hours;
  2. Flexible Scheduling;
  3. Job Sharing; and
  4. Alternate Work Locations

4.1 Flexible Work Hours

4.1.1 Core Work Hours

The regular business hours for the university are 8:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m. Each administrative unit should establish core work hours, which are the primary operating hours for the unit. Most units’ core hours align with the university’s regular business hours, however, some units may have different core hours based on essential work activities (e.g., NC State Veterinary Hospital, Animal Care Units, Facilities). Units that have core hours that extend beyond 8:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m. may have alternating shift schedules with greater flexibility around their extended core hours.

4.1.2 Ongoing Flexible Work Hours

Employees may request and managers may, in their discretion, approve ongoing, non-temporary flexible work hours for their employees. Employees may be allowed to shift their scheduled work hours so long as the flexible work arrangement meets operational needs and are consistent with building access and security protocols. By way of an example, a unit with core hours of 8:00 a.m. –  5:00 p.m. may allow some employees to work 7:00 a.m. –  4:00 p.m. or 9:00 – 6:00 p.m. Managers must ensure that the unit’s operational needs are covered during core work hours and that adequate supervision is provided for situations in which flexible work hours fall outside of the unit’s core operating hours.

Note: Employees may request and managers may, in their discretion, grant a temporary change in an employee’s regular work schedule that is not permanent or is in order to adjust for an unplanned, short-notice, or sporadic event. Such a change may include a temporary modification in start and end times or allowing work hours missed on one day to be made up on another.

4.2 Flexible Schedules

Employees may request and managers may, in their discretion, approve compressed work week schedules for their employees. Compressed work week schedules allow covered employees to work 40 hours within one week by working fewer than five regular work days, or 80 hours within two weeks by working fewer than ten regular work days. Regular schedules for employees who are subject to the Fair Labor Standards Act (“FLSA non-exempt”) must not exceed 40 hours per work week on a recurring basis.

4.2.1 Part-time Hours Adjustment

Part-time employees may request and managers may, in their discretion, approve a change in the number of hours worked per week to meet personal obligations. Changes to part-time hours may result in changes to FTE, pay, and benefits eligibility.

4.3 Job Sharing

Job sharing is a flexible work arrangement where two employees perform the work of one full- time equivalent (FTE) position. Each employee occupies the same position, with work hours reduced to meet the position’s FTE. For example, two part-time employees may work in the same position for 20 hours per week, each rotating their work schedules if working on-site, or working simultaneously if one or more is working remotely. The planned schedule for the position should not exceed 40 hours per week.

4.4 Alternate Work Location

An alternate work location is an adjustment to the employee’s designated on-site university work location. Not all positions are suitable for an alternate work location. Some positions have job duties and responsibilities, unique functions, or schedules that do not lend themselves to remote work (e.g., front desk receptionist, building and grounds maintenance staff, service-oriented staff members, etc.).

4.4.1 Duty Station

An employee’s on-site NC State work location is considered to be the employee’s duty station regardless of any approved flexible work arrangement. An alternate work location typically involves an employee regularly working from an alternate work location such as the employee’s home (or identifying another off-site/satellite location) as part of a “hybrid” (combination of on-site and remote work), or fully remote flexible work arrangement (temporary periods only).

4.4.2 Reasonable Commuting Distance

Employees approved for flexible work locations are expected to work within a reasonable commuting distance to be able to report to their on‐site duty station when directed due to operational needs and/or due to changes to, or revocation of, their flexible work arrangements. Long-term flexible work arrangements for employees who reside outside of a reasonable commuting distance (and, in particular, out-of-state alternate work locations) should be avoided. Out-of-state work locations for employees raise additional compliance issues including but not limited to taxes, workers’ compensation, and benefits. Limited exceptions to the reasonable commuting distance requirement may be approved based on operational needs, including but not limited to, recruitment of those with unique or scarce skills, specialized position responsibilities that necessitate frequent out of state work, or arrival/departure of employees during a transition period of relocation. Exceptions to the reasonable commuting distance requirement must be processed through NC State’s University Human Resources Department and approved by the Associate Vice Chancellor for Human Resources (or designee).

4.4.3 Permanent Off-Site Work Locations/Off-Campus Duty Station

Note: This regulation does not address the process for requesting a permanent off-site work location for an employee (off campus duty station, including out-of-state work locations). That process requires a special and separate approval through NC State’s University Human Resources Department and approved by the Associate Vice Chancellor for Human Resources (for staff) and the Executive Vice Chancellor and Provost (for faculty) or designee(s).

4.4.4 Flexible work location arrangements require a review of additional considerations prior to being approved and implemented. Both the manager and the employee must acknowledge their respective responsibilities for the alternate work location. Other special provisions for alternate work location arrangements are included below.

4.5 Safe and Secure Work Environment

4.5.1 Alternate Work Location

Employees and managers should work together to make safety an integral part of a Remote Work or Telework arrangement. The employee is responsible for maintaining an alternate work location that is free from health and safety hazards. The employee is responsible for completing all relevant safety training and for reviewing the information in Ergonomics and Safety When Working Remotely which should achieve a safety review of the designated alternative work location. Managers are responsible for ensuring the employee has reviewed this information, completed relevant safety training, and knows to resolve or report any unsafe conditions or injury to the appropriate campus unit.

4.5.2 Workers’ Compensation

Employees working under a flexible work arrangement, including at an alternate work site, are covered by workers’ compensation for job-related injuries that occur in the course and scope of employment during the employee’s approved work hours. In cases where the home and alternate work location are the same, workers’ compensation will not apply to non-job related injuries that might occur at the off-site alternate work location. Employees must immediately report any job-related injury occurring at an alternate work location to their supervisor. Failure to comply with workplace safety standards may impact workers compensation eligibility.

4.5.3 Information and Data Security

Employees using an alternate work location must protect the security, confidentiality, and integrity of university records and information at all times. Employees must comply with all information security requirements that would apply at their on-site work location. Sensitive information/data must not be processed or stored on a personal computer or device, but must be processed or stored on university-owned devices or systems and stored in approved, secure remote storage, accessed via secure network technologies. The details of appropriate use, storage and access for University data are listed on the OIT Security & Compliance website.

4.5.4 In addition, employees utilizing an alternate work location must ensure that, while working, their work area is configured to minimize distraction and is able to be secured or isolated during virtual meetings or work that requires confidentiality or is otherwise sensitive in nature.

4.6 Equipment and Materials

NC State may provide an employee using an alternate work location with necessary office supplies and equipment, if the individual unit deems appropriate and necessary to perform the essential functions of the job. An inventory of all university-owned equipment used by an employee at their alternate work location must be maintained. All university-owned resources provided to the employee must be used primarily for university business and in accordance with applicable NC State policies, regulations, and rules, including but not limited to all requirements around data security and IT regulations. The employee will take reasonable steps to protect all university- owned equipment from theft, damage, or misuse. University-owned equipment used for work at an alternate work location remains the property of NC State and must be returned within five (5) business days of termination of any alternate work location arrangement (unless management, in its discretion, determines the employee still requires use of certain equipment to complete their job duties and responsibilities).

4.7 Travel Expenses

An employee’s designated on-site NC State work location is considered   their   duty station. Employees who are working from an alternate work location are not eligible to receive mileage or other expense reimbursements for travel between their alternate work location and their assigned duty station. Employees with an alternate work location may be eligible for travel reimbursement in accordance with NC State travel policies, for business-related meetings and events that take place off-campus.

4.8 Work Hours and Leave

Employees who have an alternate work location are expected to perform their work during their designated work hours, and, with the exception of normal breaks, must not engage in activities that are not work-related. NC State’s policies, regulations, and rules covering overtime work, annual, and other leave requests continue to apply to employees using an alternate work location.

4.9 Sick Leave/Family and Medical Leave

Flexible Work Arrangements should not be used as a substitute for taking sick leave or for Family and Medical Leave (FML). Employees may not be compelled to work when ill and/or taking FML.

4.10 Tax Considerations

Employees are individually responsible for addressing and resolving any questions regarding income tax questions and their ability to take tax deductions related to an alternate work location.