Teleworking, including distance teaching, allows Smithfield teachers and staff to work at home or another location for a temporary or extended period. Teleworking may be appropriate for some jobs but not for others and may be appropriate for a period of time, rather than as a permanent arrangement. Teleworking is not a right; although teleworking may be possible, this does not mean that it will be approved by the district. It is the responsibility of the Superintendent to determine if and when telework is employed. All teleworking arrangements are made on a case-by-case basis, focusing first on the needs of the district and its students.
Temporary teleworking arrangements may be approved for circumstances, such as inclement weather, special projects or business travel. These arrangements are approved on an as-needed basis only, with no expectation of ongoing continuance.
Other informal, short-term arrangements may be made for employees on family or medical leave to the extent practical for the employee and the district and with the consent of the employee’s health care provider, if appropriate.
Teleworking is not designed to be a replacement for appropriate child or elder care. Although an individual employee’s schedule may be modified to accommodate child or elder care needs, the focus of the arrangement must remain on job performance and meeting work responsibilities. Prospective teleworkers are encouraged to discuss expectations of teleworking with family members prior to the start of teleworking.
For all teleworking arrangements, the following basic requirements must be met:
• Employees must be able to carry out the same duties and work obligations at their offsite location as they do when working in district facilities.
• The workweek may be modified, however, expectations for time worked and for duties performed must be comparable to the job requirements delineated in the job description.
• Employees must be available to their supervisors, co‐workers, parents and students during core work hours.
Procedures for Approval of Telework Arrangements
Either an employee or a supervisor can suggest teleworking as a possible work arrangement. For safety considerations, the administration may temporarily allow teleworking in accordance with distance learning plans.
Teleworking arrangements may be made on a trial basis and may be discontinued at any time at the request of either the teleworker or the District. Every effort will be made to provide sufficient notice of such change to accommodate child care and other issues that may arise from the termination of a teleworking arrangement. There may be instances, however, when no notice is possible.
Upon approval, a written notice, which may include specific guidance and conditions, will be provided to the employee or group of employees.
Equipment and Work Environment
Smithfield Public Schools will determine the appropriate equipment needs for each teleworking arrangement. While equipment supplied by the district will be maintained by the district, the maintenance of equipment supplied by the employee is the responsibility of the employee. Smithfield Public Schools accepts no responsibility for damage or repairs to employee-owned equipment nor is responsible for the cost of Internet services to enable telework. Equipment supplied by the district is to be used for district work only and must be used in accordance with the Acceptable Use Policy for Staff and Students and with all other policies of the Smithfield School Committee. No other resident, family member, or cohabitant of the worker’s household may use the issued equipment for any reason. The teleworker must agree to take appropriate action to protect district-owned items from damage, illegitimate use or theft. Upon termination of employment and/or at the end of the teleworking period, all district property will be returned to the Smithfield Public Schools.
The employee is responsible for establishing an appropriate work environment and for all costs associated with the establishment of this work environment. If other family members are present in this home work environment, their presence cannot interfere with the job duties or contribute to privacy issues.
Consistent with the district’s expectations of data security for employees working at the office or school, teleworking employees will be expected to ensure the protection of student and district information accessible from their home office. Steps to ensure data security include the use of locked file cabinets and desks, regular password maintenance, and any other such measures.
Employees are expected to maintain their offsite workspace in a safe manner, free from safety hazards and with adequate lighting and ventilation. The District reserves the right to inspect the offsite work location. Injuries sustained by the employee in a home office location and in conjunction with his or her regular work duties are normally covered by the district’s workers’ compensation policy. Teleworking employees are responsible for notifying the district of such injuries as soon as practicable. Additionally, workers’ compensation does not apply to injuries which occur in the home that are non-job related. Smithfield Public Schools does not assume responsibility for injuries occurring outside of the designated work hours, outside the agreed upon designated work office, or activities that are non-work related. The employee is liable for any injuries sustained by family members or by visitors to his or her offsite work location.
Teleworking employees who are not exempt from the overtime requirements of the Fair Labor Standards Act will be required to accurately record all hours worked using Smithfield Public School’s time-keeping system. Hours worked in excess of those scheduled per day and per workweek require the advance approval of the employee’s supervisor. Failure to comply with this requirement may result in the immediate termination of the teleworking agreement.
The teleworker is required to use applicable sick, vacation, or other leave accruals if unable to work any portion of the scheduled work day. The employee must obtain supervisory approval prior to taking leave, in accordance with SPS policy.
Tax and Other Legal Implications
The employee must determine any tax or legal implications under IRS, state and local government laws, and/or restrictions of working out of an offsite location. Responsibility for fulfilling all obligations in this area rests solely with the employee.
ADOPTED: October 19, 2020