Policy Details Page
The District believes that in-person work is necessary to build and maintain positive working relationships that continue to foster inclusive teams oriented environments. The District also recognizes that the majority of its staff positions cannot be performed remotely as our schools provide in-person support to our students. The District sincerely believes in the importance for non-student facing staff members who do not work directly with students, to balance their requests for remote work arrangements with the potential for negative perceptions and possible divisiveness that can be created by such arrangements. With those factors and other optics in mind, the District supports a case-by-case analysis of a non-student facing staff member’s request for a remote work arrangement when it is determined appropriate by their supervisor and Cabinet member.
Regulation 5521R provides guidance regarding the process of receiving and evaluating an employee’s remote work application and establishing a work agreement.
The District will review remote-work eligible positions annually, with an eligibility list kept by the Human Resources department. Generally, positions that are responsible for the supervision, management, direction or leadership of other staff members are not suitable for remote-work because the District expects those positions to be physically accessible to their team's needs. Supervisors with employees in remote-eligible positions must review remote work effectiveness and efficiency for their respective departments on an annual basis. With limited exceptions, eligible employees will have 12 months of service within Tacoma school district and strong performance that speaks to the employee’s ability to perform remote work successfully including a positive performance review. All approved Employee Remote Work Agreements must be renewed annually for continued eligibility, either by the anniversary date of the initial agreement or by the first day of the Employee’s contract year/work calendar year.
If a position is determined as eligible for remote work, an employee can request a remote work schedule arrangement after consultation with their supervisor. With each individual request, the supervisor will:
- Prepare performance expectation data for the department/division and/or individuals that allow the supervisor to monitor work efficiency and effectiveness while remote work is occurring.
- Present this data to be approved by the corresponding Cabinet member prior to application submission and this data will be reviewed by the supervisor every 60 days.
- Prepare a schedule of department/division coverage for approval by the corresponding Cabinet member.
- Maintain and regularly review the schedule to ensure ongoing coverage and as a reference point for future approvals.
- Outline a plan for how coverage will occur, and customers will be served while the remote work occurs (e.g. consider the overlap of remote work within and outside of the department).
With the supervisor’s support, two documents are required for an employee requesting a remote work eligibility review. Both documents are found on the Human Resources HUB site.
1. Position and Employee Remote Work Review Questionnaire, to be completed by the employee’s supervisor and approved by the corresponding Cabinet member.
If the Questionnaire data indicates the position is likely eligible for remote work, then:
2. Remote Work Agreement completed by the Employee with input from the Supervisor and approval by the corresponding Cabinet member.
Remote Work Expectations
In addition to the policy expectations set forth in Policy 5521, the following procedural expectations also apply to a remote work arrangement:
- The Supervisor has the right to suspend a Remote Work Agreement for business necessity with reasonable notice to the staff member or less time in the event of an urgent matter.
- The Employee agrees to secure District-owned equipment, documents, files, etc. in a confidential and safe manner.
- The Employee agrees to participate in studies, inquiries, and evaluations related to remote work.
- Because at most, remote work arrangements are only approved for up to four days per week, the department’s needs, including staff meetings, shall take precedence when determining which days the staff member is physically on-District premises. The district’s ADA accommodation process will address remote work as an accommodation for a medical condition.
- If a holiday or other day that the District is closed falls on the staff member’s regularly scheduled on-District premises day, the District will ask the staff member to be physically present on an alternate day of that week in order to maintain connection, community and positive working relationships.
- Staff members are expected to be available to physically come in to their District-assigned work location with reasonable notice. Staff members should have a method of transportation available. Remote work arrangements are not intended to be provided for out-of-state or vacation destinations unless specifically approved in advance during the remote work approval process or approved in advance by a supervisor and Human Resources based upon an extenuating circumstance.
- Staff members are expected to be relieved of all caregiving responsibilities during their work time (e.g., children, adults with needs, pets).
- Remote working staff are expected to dress for work in a professional manner as if they were reporting in-person at a District location.
- For on-line video meetings, adequate lighting, minimizing background noise and appropriate, professional backgrounds should be considered by the remote work staff.
- Privacy and confidentiality need to be preserved. The remote-work staff member must ensure that they are not working in a public location or one where others can overhear/see their work.
- Responsive customer service is paramount for all remote-working staff. The remote-work staff member must remain accessible during working hours.
- Flexibility is important. If there is a project, matter, meeting, training or other event for which in-person collaboration would enhance the outcome, the remote work staff should be willing to alter regular remote work arrangements.
- All employment laws and District regulations apply to the remote-work staff member, who shall follow meal and rest break regulations and policies for taking and correctly reporting time worked and leaves of absence including sick and vacation time.
- Optics and fairness in remote working arrangements are important. If the remote work staff, their supervisor or other team members become aware of a concern about the fairness or effectiveness of the remote working arrangements, the concerns should be raised and discussed – and Human Resources should be notified for awareness and potential support.
Compensation & Benefits
Employee compensation and benefits, including vacation, sick leave, and other forms of leave shall not be affected by the remote work arrangement.
Employee will seek advanced approval from the supervisor to use sick leave, vacation, or other leave on remote work days. Overtime to be worked must be approved in accordance with the applicable collective bargaining agreement.
In order to maintain close communication and standards of professionalism while working from a remote location, Employee shall:
- Notify their work group of any change in their remote work schedule
- Be accessible by phone to any customer, constituent or stakeholder and provide a workable phone number or email correspondence, forwarding District landline as appropriate
- Be available to their supervisor and coworkers by Teams, telephone, email and other agreed upon means during core hours
- Return calls and emails in a timely manner
Supervisors will clearly outline expectations for how assignments of work will be assigned and returned when an employee is working remotely.
Employee will maintain contact with their work unit and colleagues, including attending meetings on remote work days when requested to do so by their supervisor.
Employee will report to their District worksite as soon as possible upon the reasonable notice and request of their supervisor.
Equipment & Expenses
Employee and supervisor shall determine the minimum equipment and software necessary for Employee to complete assignments from the remote location in a timely, efficient, and professional manner. Employee is required to return any District property upon request.
The District will maintain all equipment owned by the organization. Employee is responsible for all maintenance and repairs of employee-owned equipment.
Only District-owned software may be installed in District-owned equipment. Employee may not install or download any other software without approval.
Employee is responsible for ongoing operating costs, such as telephone service fees, Internet fees, utility costs, and homeowner’s or renter’s insurance.
Employees working from an alternate work location will follow all procedures outlined in District Policies and Regulations:
- 6300/R – Data Security; and
- 6973/R – Acceptable Use Policy for Digital Resources.
In addition, Employee must ensure the following:
- The protection of organization data on disk, hardcopy, or on portable devices from theft, loss, or unauthorized access during transit and at the alternate worksite.
- That approved firewalls and anti-virus software are on all remote site computers and are updated daily with current definitions.
- That flash drives or other portable drives are scanned for viruses before used for uploading or downloading data.
- The employee agrees to follow the District’s guidelines pertaining to Policy and Regulation 4040 – Public Access to District Records
Employee confirms that they have a suitable place to work at the alternate work location and that to the best of their knowledge the worksite is safe from conditions that could pose a hazard to health and safety or danger to equipment.
Employee must report any injury to their supervisor immediately. Any injuries that occur while working at the alternate location will be covered by Worker’s Compensation. Worker’s compensation does not cover accidents to family members or other third parties at the telecommute site.
Employee must observe the following limitations when working from the telecommute site:
- Cannot conduct in-person meetings at the telecommute site.
- Cannot operate a business or work for another employer during work hours.
- Cannot conduct personal business during work hours.
- Cannot use District equipment for personal use.
- Cannot allow others to use District equipment or access the District’s network.
- Must arrange for dependent care during work hours. Note: Contact Human Resources for considerations during emergency conditions.
Annual Maintenance and Consideration
Each year, maintenance of remote work agreements will adhere to the following:
- Annually, the Cabinet member supervising the respective department/division will meet with the committee to discuss what positions would qualify for remote work and articulate why it is beneficial to the District.
- Annually, the Cabinet member will define their department(s)s/division(s) and present an organizational chart articulating membership.
- Remote working will be based on positions and their ability to add value to the strategic plan goals (e.g. Hard to fill positions, identified by HR, space considerations, and productivity constraints).
New requests for remote work will be considered for approval in January and June. Submissions should be submitted in advance of these months for consideration of remote work.
Termination of Remote Work
The Agreement is not a guarantee of employment and can be terminated at any time by either the District or Employee. A remote work arrangement may not be allowed to continue if it is detrimental to work quality, customer service, the work unit, or the organization. In such situations, the supervisor has the responsibility to evaluate the Remote Work Agreement and may terminate the agreement.
In the event of termination of the Remote Work Agreement, Employee will be notified and provided the reason(s) for the termination in writing.
In the event this agreement is terminated, the supervisor will make every attempt to provide sufficient notice, generally 14 days’ notice, to allow the employee to make appropriate arrangements.
District will not be held responsible for costs, damages or losses to Employee resulting from termination of this agreement.
Work Performed While Out-of-State
Work performed in another State may be subject to taxes and deductions applicable to the jurisdiction where the work is performed. In certain circumstances, various taxes and deductions may be required for Washington and the other state, simultaneously. Remote work performed outside of the State of Washington, short or long term, must be reported to the Chief Financial Officer (CFO@tacoma.k12.wa.us) and include the State where the work was performed, the duration of out-of-state work and the hours reported. Where possible, advance notice is advised. If notification of out-of-state remote work is made after the dates were paid, payroll corrections for tax withholdings will be made and could result in a request for the employee to make repayments for overpaid funds. Note: Attendance at a conference is not applicable to these rules.
Approval Date: 1/25/2022
Revised Date: 4/12/2022
- remote work