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Division of Human Resources

Flextime and Telecommuting

The University of South Carolina allows employees to be flexible with their work schedules and locations, when possible, in order to respond to work-life needs.

Telecommuting Policy Approved

Updates to university policy HR 1.22 Telecommuting were approved on August 6, 2021. Each campus, college, and division will select the telecommuting plan that is best for their organization. Supervisors should reach out to their senior leadership before implementing any formal Telecommuting Agreements. 

 

Flexible work schedules and telecommuting arrangements offer a variety of benefits to employees and departments. They promote productivity, enhance creativity, and reduce costs for the employee and the department.

The university's core business hours are 8:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., Monday through Friday. Departments may choose to allow certain employees to work alternate schedules as long as appropriate coverage for all regular departmental functions is provided during these core business hours. 

Employees have the option to request two different types of schedules:

  1. A compressed workweek schedule allows you to work four working days instead of five, but you must still work at least 37.5 or 40 hours per week.
  2. A variable workweek allows you to work five working days, but with work hours other than 8:30 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.

How To Apply
Full-time, part-time and temporary employees are eligible to apply. Complete the Flexible Work Schedule Request [pdf] and submit it to your supervisor for approval. Your supervisor will send all recommendations of approval to the department head or director for final approval. 

Regardless if the request is approved or not, all requests must be sent to the HR Contact for your division, department or campus and kept in departmental files.

For more detailed information regarding flexible work schedules, please review the guidelines provided on the request form [pdf].   

Telecommuting is a work arrangement where supervisors direct or allow employees to perform some of their usual job duties away from their primary workplace, in accordance with a work agreement.

South Carolina law permits agencies to implement telecommuting when it results in greater efficiency and cost savings. Therefore, to be compliant with the law, the decision to allow telecommuting should be based on clearly defined and measurable benefits for the university and taxpayers.

Refer to university policy HR 1.22 Telecommuting for more information. 


Eligibility 

Telecommuting is a management option and not a universal employee benefit. Telecommuting may not be suitable for all employees and/or positions. The decision to allow an employee to telecommute is solely at the discretion of the campus, college, or division. The university may revoke the approval of any employee to telecommute at any time, with or without notice.

To be eligible to apply for telecommuting, an employee should have completed one year of satisfactory employment with the agency. Employees in a warning notice of substandard performance period are not eligible for telecommuting. In addition, employees with recent disciplinary actions should generally be prohibited from telecommuting.

 

Evaluating Eligibility

Requests for telecommuting should be considered based on the telecommuting approach/plan approved by the campus, college, or division. Campuses, colleges, and divisions should evaluate requests on a case-by-case basis to determine if the employee has the necessary skills and abilities to be a telecommuter and if the duties, or a portion of the duties, of the employee's position can be adequately performed while telecommuting.

Employees and supervisors may use this Assessment Tool [PDF] to help evaluate and discuss an employee’s individual skills and work environment to determine if they are a good candidate to telecommute.


Alternate Work Locations

Generally, the alternate work location should be in South Carolina. If the campus, college, or division deems it necessary to allow an employee to designate an alternate work location outside of South Carolina, the campus, college, or division should coordinate with the Payroll Office to research tax, workers compensation, and other implications of having employees perform work in another state. Telecommuting from locations outside of the United States is strictly prohibited.


Types of Telecommuting 

There are two types of telecommuting:

1. Regular or Recurring (Formal)

Formal telecommuting agreements are for periods greater than 90 days and conform to the Telecommuting policy and procedures outlined below. Campus, college or division plans must be selected and/or approved before employees can request formal telecommuting agreements. 

2. Periodic or Intermittent (Informal) 

Informal telecommuting arrangements may be approved at the department level for short-term projects of less than 3 months and to approve temporary remote work for brief illnesses and emergency situations in accordance with current university policy. These arrangements do not require a formal telecommuting agreement, but supervisors must document approval in writing. 


Formal Telecommuting Plans 

Campuses, colleges, and divisions must choose which approach/plan they want to implement for their organization before employees can request formal telecommuting.

Choose one of the following approaches to implement for your organization: 

  • Individual Plan

This approach allows campuses, colleges and divisions to authorize employees to apply for telecommuting on an individual basis. The employee's position must be evaluated to determine if it is appropriate for telecommuting, the employee must have the required characteristics to be a successful telecommuter, and the employee must have a suitable alternate workplace.

  • Campus/College/Division Plan

This approach allows you to develop telecommuting plans on a campus/college/division basis. Organizations must review all positions and evaluate and identify those that are eligible to participate in telecommuting based on specific guidelines.   

  • Hybrid Plan

This approach allows you to combine the Individual Plan and the Campus/College/Division Plan. Campuses, colleges and divisions must proactively evaluate and identify groups of potential telecommuting employees, while still allowing employees to submit individual requests to telecommute.

  • No Telecommuting 

Campuses, colleges and divisions also have the option to not permit any telecommuting for employees.

Once senior leadership selects the approach for their organization, they will need to:

  • notify their campus/college/division HR Contact (please note that only ONE HR Contact should be designated as the official Telecommuting Contact for each area); and
  • establish a plan to communicate their decision with staff and administrators.

If the Campus/College/Division Plan is selected, the Telecommuting Contact will need to work with senior leadership to develop a plan using the Telecommuting Plan Form [pdf].

Completed plan forms must be signed by senior leadership (i.e., Chancellor, VP, Dean, etc.) or their designee and submitted to the Employee Relations Office at uscer@mailbox.sc.edu to coordinate final approval with the Division of State Human Resources. The Telecommuting Contact will receive an email from Employee Relations once it has been approved by State HR. 

If the individual or no telecommuting plans are selected, no plan forms are required to be submitted for approval.  If the hybrid plan is selected, no plans need to be submitted to start the individual telecommuting requests, but you will still be required to submit plan(s) for approval for the departmental requests.

All Campus/College/Division Plans must include the following:

  • Define which position(s) will be eligible to telecommute and why the position(s) were selected.
  • Provide a cost/savings analysis which demonstrates a positive Return on Investment with documentation of how this return will be measured.
  • Describe how efficiency will be improved by allowing an employee to telecommute. This description must include measurable metrics that can be demonstrated.
  • Outline how productivity and performance will be measured while employees are telecommuting.
  • If an employee in a campus/college/division that allows telecommuting denies an employee's request to telecommute, the justification for the exclusion should be based on non-discriminatory, job-related criteria, and should be documented.
  • Designate whether the telecommuting arrangements will be 100% remote work, or if they will be working a combination of remote and in the office.
  • Plans must be reviewed with updated numbers on an annual basis to ensure telecommuting plans are still in the best interest of the university and tax payers.


Requesting Formal Telecommuting 

Once the type of plan has been selected by the campus, college or division (and approved by State HR, if applicable), eligible employees may work with their supervisors to begin completing the necessary forms to request formal telecommuting.

Employees who are eligible to telecommute should complete the following forms with their supervisor:

Telecommuters who have provided medical certification prohibiting them from working are prohibited from working remotely.

By signing these documents, the employee and supervisor understand and agree to all telecommuting guidelines, requirements, and policies.

Possible Telecommuting Arrangements

There are very few jobs where it would be practical to telecommute every workday. As a result, most employees who telecommute do not work at the alternate workplace during all work hours. Below are examples of possible telecommuting arrangements. It is important to remember that any arrangement should benefit the university and support business needs.

  • The employee may telecommute on pre-determined days (for example Monday, Wednesday and Friday) and work in the office the rest of the week (Tuesday and Thursday). This arrangement allows for many of the benefits of telecommuting while also providing the opportunity for employees to complete tasks that require a presence in the office or to meet in person with other employees or customers. Savings for space can be realized if employees are placed on different schedules so that all employees are not in the office at the same time.
  • The employee may telecommute for parts of the workday and work in the office for the remainder of the day. For example, an employee may work in the alternate workplace for 8:30 a.m.–noon, and then in the primary workplace from 1–5 p.m. This arrangement allows the employee to avoid peak commute time, reducing the time spent in traffic. This arrangement may also be beneficial for an employee who, due to a disability, is unable to report to the primary work location for part of the day.
  • The employee may telecommute full time but be expected to report to the office in person for pre-scheduled meetings, such as quarterly staff meetings, and as needed.

The Telecommuting Agreement Form [pdf] must be submitted to senior leadership (i.e., Chancellor, VP, Dean, etc.) or their designee for signature. 

By signing, senior leadership is acknowledging approval and compliance with the established campus/college/division telecommuting plan.

Submit the signed Telecommuting Request Form [pdf] and Telecommuting Agreement Form [pdf] to your designated Telecommuting Contact for final review. The Telecommuting Contact will email the forms to the Employee Relations Office at uscer@mailbox.sc.edu.

The designated Telecommuting Contact will serve as the point of contact between the Employee Relations Office and the campus, college, or division to address any questions, edits, returns and/or approvals of the required forms.

Employee Relations will send an email to the Telecommuting Contact once the review is complete.

Employee Relations will scan telecommuting documents into the employee’s personnel file and will maintain required tracking to meet state reporting requirements.

All telecommuting agreements must be reviewed on at least an annual basis. The Employee Relations Office is establishing procedures to track this review process and will provide updates as soon as they are established. 


Frequently Asked Questions

Regular or Recurring (Formal) – A long-term telecommuting arrangement which requires a formal agreement between the employee and the university that is approved by the supervisor and campus/college/division's senior leadership. The arrangement must comply with the policy and the campus/college/division's approach to telecommuting.

Periodic or Intermittent (Informal) – A short-term telecommuting arrangement which does not require a formal agreement or request process. This arrangement is normally approved for a special assignment with a short time frame of less than 90 days. Supervisors must document approval in writing. 

Temporary or Emergency – Used during short-term illness, transportation emergency due to weather, a natural disaster, pandemic health crises, or other similar unplanned emergent events. This level of telecommuting does not require a formal agreement or request process. These arrangements require a verbal agreement between the employee and the university. These arrangements should be limited to the duration of the short-term illness, transportation emergency due to weather, natural disaster, pandemic health crisis, or other similar unplanned emergency event.

Individual Plan – With this approach, campuses, colleges, and divisions may allow any employee to apply for telecommuting. The employee’s position is evaluated individually to determine if it is appropriate for telecommuting. The employee’s application is then evaluated to determine if the employee has the characteristics to be a successful telecommuter. An employee should only be permitted to telecommute if, based on this review, the position is appropriate for telecommuting, the employee exhibits the needed characteristics to telecommute successfully, and a suitable alternate workplace is identified.

Campus/College/Division Plan – With this approach, campuses, colleges, and divisions may decide to review positions in their organization and identify those that may be appropriate for telecommuting. These eligible positions can be identified by classification, department/division, location, or any other attribute that differentiates positions. Once these positions have been identified, only employees in the applicable positions are allowed to apply to take part in telecommuting. The employee applications are then evaluated to determine if each employee has the characteristics to be a successful telecommuter. An employee should only be permitted to telecommute if, based on this review, the employee exhibits the needed characteristics to telecommute successfully and a suitable alternate workplace is identified.

Hybrid Plan – This approach allows campuses, colleges and divisions to combine the individual and the campus/college/division approaches. Campuses, colleges and divisions must proactively evaluate and identify groups of potential telecommuting employees, while still allowing employees to submit individual requests to telecommute.

No Telecommuting – Campuses, colleges and divisions also have the option to not permit any form of telecommuting.

A Campus/College/Division plan is submitted to the Employee Relations Office for approval from State HR. The plan requires information on cost savings, efficiencies and measuring productivity. Divisions review all positions and evaluate and identify those that are eligible to participate in telecommuting based on specific guidelines.   

The following two forms must be submitted to the Telecommuting Contact for your campus, college or division:

No, this policy does not apply to faculty. Faculty should follow their change in modality request process. If a faculty member is requesting telecommuting due to an ADA accommodation, they will need to contact the Employee Relations Office at uscer@mailbox.sc.edu.

An employee unable to work at the alternate workplace is required to take leave, make up the time missed, or they may be required to report to the primary workplace.

The alternate workplace is considered an extension of the employee's usual work location; therefore, workers' compensation will continue to exist for the employee when performing official work duties in the defined workspace during approved telecommuting hours. Any work-related injuries must be reported to the employee's supervisor immediately.

The employee is liable for injuries and damages to third parties in these circumstances. Injuries to the employee may be covered by workers’ compensation insurance. 

The alternate workplace is considered an extension of the employee's usual work location; therefore, workers' compensation will continue to exist for the employee when performing official work duties in the defined workspace during approved telecommuting hours. Any work-related injuries must be reported to the employee's supervisor immediately.

The tax implications of telecommuting beyond normal payroll deductions are the sole responsibility of the telecommuter. Telecommuters are encouraged to seek professional advice regarding these issues, particularly concerning any tax implications of working from home. For additional information, contact the South Carolina Comptroller General’s Office and the Internal Revenue Service.

Yes. Requests to use sick, annual, or any other leave must be approved by the supervisor in the same manner as when the employee is working at the university’s primary workplace. Telecommuting hours are regular work hours and, therefore, employees may not perform personal activities during these hours. Telecommuters are expected to follow the university’s  leave policies and procedures to request time off from telecommuting to engage in non-work activities.

Before purchasing any supplies, the telecommuters will need to notify their supervisor to determine if the supplies will be provided by the university or if the expense will be reimbursed.

Yes. If an employee has entered into a telecommuting agreement and their primary workplace is closed due to hazardous weather or other reason, the employee will be required to work by telecommuting even if they were scheduled to work from the primary workplace during the time the office is closed.

If the employee has not been released to work by a physician, they should not be working from home.

Please remember that all work hours must be reported through the university’s Time and Absence System. For more information about entering time, please visit the Policies and Procedures section of this site.


Contact Us

If you have specific questions or concerns that our team can help you address, please contact the Employee Relations Office by emailing uscer@mailbox.sc.edu or calling 803-777-3821.


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