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FWA Guidelines

Research shows that flexible work arrangements, where appropriate, can offer viable solutions in achieving work-life balance for employees and have also been shown to be important to employee engagement and retention. Employees today are increasingly looking to their employers to provide some form of flexible work arrangement to make their work and personal lives easier to manage. McGill University is no exception to this trend.

Indeed, flexible work arrangements have emerged as a significant theme of proposed action within the staff-led My Healthy Workplace Learning Communities, launched in May 2019. It also emerged as one way that McGill can step in, beyond remediation measures provided by the government, to support employees affected by current and upcoming mobility complications in Greater Montreal.

In addition to contributing to quality of life, flexible work arrangements can be a factor in sustainability efforts, in line with McGill’s Vision 2020 Climate and Sustainability Action Plan. Reducing or shifting the time of commutes to avoid congestion can play a role in lessening greenhouse gas emissions.

The Flexible Work Arrangements Program will run as a pilot from January 2020 to December 2020. It is intended to enable a flexible working environment when reasonable and possible given the operational needs of the unit and operational requirements of an employee’s position. The success of flexible arrangements depends on effective communication and trust between the employee and the manager.

Eligibility

  • All administrative and support staff are eligible to apply for the pilot program except employees on:
    • probationary/trial periods or
    • performance improvement plans.
  • Participation in the program is voluntary for the employee and contingent on approval of the immediate manager.
  • Each request will be given equal consideration by the applicant’s manager.
  • Flexible Work Arrangements are not suitable for all positions and departments. While all eligible employees may request a flexible work arrangement, the manager’s approval should be based on operational requirements and the employee’s specific role and responsibilities.
  • See the option eligibility table by employee group under the Options tab.

Request Process

  • The initial period for request submission will run from January 16 to January 31, 2020. This period allows managers who are reviewing multiple requests to understand overall team and operational impacts. It does not preclude requests from being submitted outside of these dates.
  • Interested employees are encouraged to discuss their intent to request a Flexible Work Arrangement with their manager. These employee-manager conversations facilitate alignment and mutual understanding during the evaluation and implementation phases.
  • Employees must complete the Request Form (see Form tab) and submit it to their manager by email, copying their local HR representative

Evaluation of Requests

  • Managers will aim to reply to requests received during the initial request period by February 28, 2020.
  • Outside of the initial request period, the manager should provide a response within 10 business days.
  • All requests should be carefully reviewed, considered and evaluated by the manager. The employee’s personal reasons for the request are not required to justify consideration of the request.
  • The decision to approve or decline a request must be fair and equitable. As such, all requests should be examined objectively and devoid of any personal biases. Managers are responsible for considering requests objectively and fairly but are not obligated to grant approval.
  • To evaluate a request, managers should consider employee suitability, position suitability and department/Faculty/unit operational needs.
  • Managers are encouraged to seek guidance from their HR representative with any questions or concerns.
  • If a request is declined, the manager will have a conversation with the employee to explain the decision.
  • Once the manager has made a decision and communicated it to the employee, the manager will send a copy of the completed form to the local HR Advisor.
  • After the HR Advisor signs the form and obtains union agreement as necessary, s/he will send the completed form to flexwork [at] mcgill.ca (subject: Completed%20FWA%20form) (central HR) for statistical purposes.
  • Both the employee and the manager will meet to evaluate the FWA within 3 months of the start date of the FWA to assess its impact and ongoing viability.
  • Flexible Work Arrangements may be terminated at the request of the manager or the employee with a 30-day written notice. This notice can be shortened with agreement from all parties.

Request for Accommodation vs FWA

FWAs are not required when the employee’s request is already covered by the Act Respecting Labour Standards or McGill Policies. For example, an employee does not have to file an FWA request for family obligations as per provisions in the Act Respecting Labour Standards.

FWA Options

For the purposes of the Pilot Program, it is recommended to implement initially one option per employee. This recommendation will make it easier to evaluate and manage the requests. The recommendation is not intended, however, to limit flexibility where it is feasible to allow more than one option.

Options:
  • Flextime 
  • Work from Home
  • Please note that compressed/condensed work weeks are not part of the current pilot program.

Flextime

An employee with a flextime schedule elects to have a daily work schedule other than the regular standard scheduled workday. The employee opts for alternative start and end times but the total daily and weekly hours worked remain in accordance with the standard workweek (e.g. 33.75/35 hours per week).

Such arrangements typically include a fixed core period (i.e., the hours during which all employees must be present each day) established by the manager. The employee chooses the times they arrive at and leave their worksite as long as they are onsite for the fixed core period. The daily schedule may be the same for each day of the week or vary during the days of the week.

Lunchtime must be at least 30 minutes. Breaks cannot be taken at the beginning or end of the daily work schedule. However, with approval, one of the two 15-minute breaks can be taken immediately before or after the lunch period.

Examples:

  1. Employee arrives at a set time each day (for example, 7am) and takes 1h15 for lunch.
  2. Employee arrives at 7am on set days and 9am on the other days and takes 1 hour for lunch.
  3. Employee arrives at 10am on Monday to Wednesday and at 9am Thursday to Friday and takes 30 minutes for lunch.

 

Work from Home (WFH)

This is an arrangement in which work is performed at the employee’s home office for up to 1 day per week. It can be an arrangement for a short period of time (e.g. one month) or for the duration of the FWA PP.

Lunchtime must be at least 30 minutes. Breaks cannot be taken at the beginning or end of the daily work schedule. However, with approval, one of the two 15-minute breaks can be taken immediately before or after the lunch period.

Examples:

  1. Employee works from home every other Monday for the duration of the pilot program.
  2. Employee works from home every Wednesday for a 6-month period.

 

Options by Employee Group

Employee Group

Flextime

Work from Home

MPEX

Possible

Possible

MUNACA

Possible 

Possible

AMUSE Possible Possible

SEU Beige

Need Union approval for modifying working hours and working shifts

Possible

SEU Red

Need Union approval for modifying working hours and working shifts

N/A

SEU Blue

Need Union approval for modifying working hours and working shifts

N/A

SEU Orange

Need Union approval for modifying working hours and working shifts

N/A

SEU Green

Need Union approval for modifying working hours and working shifts

N/A

SEU Yellow

Need Union approval for modifying working hours and working shifts

N/A

Parameters

General

  • Lunchtime must be at least 30 minutes.
  • Breaks cannot be accumulated to reduce the hours worked.
  • Breaks cannot be taken at the beginning or end of the daily work schedule.

Work from Home

  • Any WFH arrangement is at the discretion of the manager and must be operationally feasible.
  • The nature of the work and requirements of the job must allow the employee to work successfully from home on an ongoing basis.
  • WFH is not to be used for the purposes of caring for children or family members.
  • There must not be an impact on the work of others when an employee works from home, e.g., if required to attend department meetings, etc.
  • The employee must be available to come into the office if a business need arises and, remain accessible during the WFH schedule; and be available for teleconferences, scheduled on an as-needed basis.
  • The employee’s duties, obligations, responsibilities, and standards of performance remain the same as when working at the office.
  • The employee must maintain a safe, secure and ergonomic work environment and report work-related injuries to the manager immediately.
  • The employee agrees to hold the University harmless for injury to others at the alternate work site. The off-site workspace is considered an extension of the University’s workplace and therefore will be subject to and governed by applicable health and safety laws and regulations.
  • Employees will be expected to comply with normal reporting requirements for any work-related accident or injury. For safety reasons, employees cannot have meetings at their home office.
  • The employee is responsible for providing computer equipment, space, telephone, printing, networking and/or internet capabilities at his/her WFH location and shall not be reimbursed by the employer for these or related expenses.
  • The employee understands that he/she must properly secure and ensure the privacy of any Employer records and materials while working from the alternate worksite. Products, documents and records developed while working from the alternate worksite are the property of the University and shall be created and maintained on the Unit’s systems or network.
  • All information, data, documents, passwords and other material that the Employee has access to when working from the alternate worksite is considered confidential information and cannot be downloaded, copied or shared in any way without the prior approval of the manager.
  • Confidential information shall not be accessed or removed from the Unit’s Work Location (whether physically or electronically) without the employee’s manager’s prior written consent.
  • The employee undertakes to take all appropriate measures to ensure that no one other than themselves can access the equipment and/or the confidential information (in print or electronic format), including, but not limited to, ensuring that password protection is used, and that the wireless network is secured.
  • The employee understands that all records and materials provided by the University shall remain the property of the University.

Benefits of Flexible Work Arrangements

For the employee

  • May reduce commuting time.
  • May improve work-life balance and well-being.
  • Enables the employee to be involved in community, school and family events that take place during traditional working or commuting time.
  • Increases individual productivity.

For the manager/department/unit

  • Ability to stagger employees’ working hours and extend operations/services accordingly.
  • Units may be able to extend daily operating hours on busier workdays, with less need to resort to overtime.
  • Can reduce lateness and absenteeism and improve employee engagement.
  • Can enhance performance and productivity.
  • Allows employees to cross-train and share responsibilities among employees in the same role.
  • Strategic tool to attract and retain employees.
  • Contributes to sustainability efforts by reducing travel time thereby decreasing McGill’s environmental footprint.

Considerations for Flexible Work Arrangements

For the employee

General

  • Can the responsibilities of the position be accomplished as efficiently under the FWA as on your current schedule?
  • Can your personal schedule and circumstances accommodate a different start time and end time, alternate work schedule or work from home arrangement?
  • Will the FWA have any impact on co-workers and their ability to complete their job functions?

Work from Home

  • Can the responsibilities of the position be accomplished as efficiently from home?
  • For safety reasons, employees cannot have meetings at their home office. Can the responsibilities of the position be accomplished on the designated day without meeting with work clients or coworkers?
  • Is there a suitable space in the home to do the work, including an areas where it can be accomplished free from distractions?
  • Can the employee engage only in McGill work? No other work - such as child/elder care or personal work - may be conducted during agreed-upon work times.
  • Does the employee have the required equipment (computer, high-speed internet and phone connection, utilities)? All costs of setting up the “home office” are paid by the employee.
  • Can the employee adhere to the privacy and confidentiality requirements set by the unit/department and the IT University policies and procedures concerning data protection and records management?
  • Does the workspace meet health and safety requirements?
  • Is the employee self-directed? Does he/she manage his/her time well? Is the employee comfortable working alone?

For the manager/department/unit

  • Flexible work arrangements are not suitable for all positions and situations.
  • Peak or critical periods when employees are required may mean that earlier or later start times are not suitable to the work or for specific times of the year.
  • Positions that require all or most of the work to be done on campus, such as facilities maintenance, frontline client services, and lab monitoring, would not be suitable for WFH arrangements.
  • Some employees require more coaching or direct support to effectively fulfill their responsibilities and therefore would not be suitable for an FWA.
  • Positions that require access to equipment that is only available on campus (e.g. research lab equipment) would also not be suitable for WFH arrangements.
  • Managers must coordinate work schedules while maintaining operational needs, office/department coverage.
  • Managers must establish how communications, teamwork and collaboration will be accomplished.
  • Managers must determine how tasks will be assigned and support provided to employees during times when they will be absent (either due to different work schedule or because manager has also opted for a flexible work arrangement).
  • Managers must establish clear goals, deliverables and deadlines for which the employees are accountable.
  • Managers must establish means and methods for supervision and monitoring of workload and results.

Tools & Request Form

 

 

 

 

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