Resources

Frequently Asked Questions

These frequently asked questions have been developed to provide employees with further information to support the understanding of the interpretation and implementation of the interim Remote Work Policy, procedures and supporting tools.  

Throughout the interim period, the policy, procedures and supporting tools will be regularly reviewed and updated.

If you have any questions that are not answered here or suggestions to improve the policy, procedures and supporting tools, please contact Human Resources at humanresources@rrc.ca.

Topics:

General Information

What is remote work?

Remote work is a voluntary, temporary, and flexible work arrangement whereby an employee receives approval from management to perform some or all their assigned duties from home or an approved alternate location. 

Why has RRC Polytech established a Remote Work Policy?

RRC Polytech is committed to fostering a safe, highly productive, engaged, and inclusive workforce and recognizes that flexible work arrangements, such as the ability to work remotely, where operationally feasible and effectively managed can be mutually beneficial to employees and the College. However, not all situations or  positions are suitable for remote work, and in-person engagement and service delivery will continue to be an essential part of creating an exceptional student and employee experience.

The Remote Work Policy, and its accompanying procedures, tools and resources have been developed to 

  • introduce employees to the policy and the types of remote work arrangements available within the College; 
  • guide employees and managers as they consider suitability for remote work–in a fair, objective and transparent manner, based upon operational needs and employee interests; and,
  • where suitable, support managers and their employees to establish clear roles and expectations to support the effective and successful implementation and evaluation of remote work arrangements.  

Why is the policy being implemented on an interim basis?

The Remote Work Policy is being implemented on an interim basis to allow for an opportunity to further evaluate the impact of remote work arrangements on safety, productivity, engagement, and inclusion within the College. All remote work arrangements will be established on a temporary basis during the interim period. 

What are the benefits of remote work?

Where applied in suitable situations, and effectively managed, remote work has been shown to increase productivity and performance; improve work/life balance; improve employee engagement and retention; foster an inclusive, safe and health work environment and contribute to sustainability. However, not all situations or positions are suitable for remote work, the interim Remote Work Policy, and its accompanying procedures and tools, are intended to guide the assessment of suitability for remote work and support the implementation of successful remote work arrangements, where suitable.

What tools are available to assist employees and their managers support the implementation of the Remote Work Policy?

A variety of tools and resources have been developed to support the implementation of the Remote Work Policy and to ensure that remote work arrangements are assessed an implemented in a fair, objective and transparent manner.  These tools and resources include: 

  • Remote Work – Procedures Guideline
  • Departmental Assessment Tool
  • Employee Request Form & Managers Assessment Tool
  • Remote Workplace Safety Checklist
  • Remote Work Arrangement Agreement Template
  • Frequently Asked Questions
  • Additional Training Supports

Please visit the Remote Work site for further information. 

How will decisions about suitability for remote work be made?

The Remote Work Policy recognizes that remote work may not be suitable in all situations or for all positions. To foster consistency across the College, the following principles have been established to guide decisions related to suitability for remote work: 

  • Decisions related to suitability for remote work are voluntary, temporary, and flexible.
  • Decisions related to suitability for remote work are made fairly, objectively, and transparently.
  • Decisions related to suitability for remote work consider operational requirements and strategic priorities; and,
  • Decisions related to suitability for remote work consider employee health, safety, and well-being.

What type of remote work arrangements are available?

The Remote Work Policy identifies four (4) types of remote work arrangements: 

  1. Periodic Remote Work: a remote work arrangement where an employee primarily works on-campus; with flexibility to occasionally (i.e., 1-2 day per month; or 1-2 days per week) work remotely. 
  2. Blended Remote Work: a remote work arrangement where an employee works remotely 60-80% of the time; and on-campus for the remaining balance of their assigned work schedule. 
  3. Primary Remote Work: a remote work arrangement where an employee primarily works remotely; and rarely, if ever, works on-campus.
  4. Critical Situation Remote Work: a remote work arrangement in response to an unexpected, undefined, and evolving critical situation where most, if not all employees would be required to work remotely under the specific direction of management. 

Under the Remote Work Policy, requests for Periodic, Blended and Primary Remote Work will be considered, however, Primary Remote Work arrangements are anticipated to only be applied in rare and exceptional situations where the remote work arrangement has been established as part of the terms and condition of employment, upon hire, or in response to a specific operational need.

Is a remote work arrangement necessary for ad hoc remote work requests?

No, the Remote Work Policy is intended to consider those situations where a remote work arrangement is established on a regular and recurring or reoccurring basis. Situations where an employee may request to work remotely on an ad hoc basis (i.e., to respond to a personal need such as needing to be home for scheduled home maintenance/services; when an employee may be experiencing mild symptoms of illness that prevent attendance on campus but don’t interfere with work; or, for operational reasons such as focusing on a specific task without interruptions) can be considered case-by-case as situations arise.  Prior management approval is a requirement for any remote work; ad hoc or regular and recurring/reoccurring.

Does remote work change an employee’s hours of work?

No, the scope of the Remote Work Policy is limited to flexible work arrangements that would change an employee’s work location. The Remote Work Policy does not consider flexible work options that would change an employee’s hours of work (i.e., flextime, compressed workweeks, job sharing etc.). Employees requiring flexibility in hours of work for personal or work-life balance reasons are encouraged to discuss their requirements with their manager to determine what options might be available. 

Does a remote work arrangement change any of the terms and conditions of the employment relationship between the employee and the College?

No, all remote work arrangements must be established in accordance with the Remote Work Policy and procedures; and, any applicable legislation, regulation, and Collective Bargaining agreement. The employment relationship, the terms, and conditions of employment (i.e., hours of work, salary, benefits, leave entitlements, overtime pay etc.) and expectations of the employee remain the same whether the employee is working remotely or not.

We have been working remotely since March 2020, why do we need an interim policy now?

At RRC Polytech we have experienced working remotely with limited on-campus activities as part of our overall response to the pandemic. With public health orders supporting the return of staff, faculty, and students to campus for January 2022, our programs and services requirements are changing and require more on-campus presence. While the College recognizes that flexible work arrangements, such as the ability to work remotely, where operationally feasible and effectively managed can be mutually beneficial to employees and the College; not all situations will continue to be suitable for remote work. The Remote Work Policy will guide the consideration of suitability for remote work based on operational requirements and employee interests; and, support the fair, objective and transparent implementation of remote work arrangements, where suitable. 

When can an employee submit a request for remote work?

Employees can submit a request for remote work at any time using the Employee Request Form. Employees are encouraged to discuss their remote work requests with their Managers prior to submitting a request form. Any requests submitted throughout the interim period will be assessed and evaluated in accordance with the established policies and procedures. 

Are remote work arrangements mandatory?

Remote work arrangements are voluntary, employees are not required to work remotely, and managers are not required to approve requests for remote work.

Roles and Responsibilities

What is the role and responsibilities of an employee in accordance with the Remote Work Policy?

The Remote Work Policy establishes that employees are responsible for: 

  • Requesting remote work arrangements in accordance with the policy and procedures.
  • Where approved, adhering to the terms and conditions of their remote work agreement including:
    • performing their full regular work duties or assigned projects and tasks while working remotely;
    • maintaining contact and communicating regularly with their manager, colleagues and clients;
    • keeping equipment and information safe and secure;
    • ensuring their remote workplace continually adheres to the Remote Workplace Safety Checklist and reporting any workplace injuries occurring in the remote work location during working hours to their Manager and Safety and Health Services.

What is the role and responsibilities of a manager in accordance with the Remote Work Policy?

The Remote Work Policy establishes that managers are responsible for: 

  • Assessing department and position suitability for remote work, and requests from employees in a fair, objective, and transparent manner, in accordance with the policy and procedures, and in consideration of operational requirements, strategic priorities and employee safety, health and well-being.
  • Ensuring that employees are notified of the outcome of their requests for remote work.; and,
  • Where approved, supporting the successful implementation, management, and evaluation of remote work arrangements. 

What other departments are involved in supporting the implementation of the Remote Work Policy?

The implementation of the Remote Work Policy is supported by several departmental areas within the College who have developed procedures, tools, and training; and, who are available to provide further consultation, where required, including:

  • Human Resources
  • Safety and Health Services
  • IT Solutions
  • Legal and Compliance
  • Campus Planning and Sustainability

Eligibility

Who can request a remote work arrangement?

Any employee, including faculty, instructors, and non-academic staff, may request a 

remote work arrangement by completing the Employee Request Form and submitting the completed form to their manager for review. All remote work requests will be assessed in a fair, objective, transparent and consistent manner in accordance with the policy and procedures. However, not all situations or positions will be suitable for remote work.

Can the Remote Work Policy be used to consider requests for out-of-province or out-of-country remote work arrangements?

Generally, no. The Remote Work Policy is intended to consider remote work requests within the Province of Manitoba. Any request to work out-of-province or out-of-country would need a supporting operational rationale and require further considerations and additional authorization outside the regular approval process for remote work requests.

Assessments and Approvals

How will remote work request be assessed?

Managers are responsible for assessing remote work requests in a fair, objective, and transparent manner in accordance with the established policies and procedures; supported by the accompanying assessment tools and checklists; and, in consideration of operational requirements and employee health, safety and well-being.

Who approves an employee’s request to work remotely?

The approval of an employee’s request to work remotely is at the sole discretion of management. 

Will all remote work requests be approved?

No, not all positions or situations are suitable for remote work.  For example, those positions or situations that require access to equipment, technology or other materials and supplies that are only available at a College worksite; or require in-person contact or collaboration with students, managers, other employees, the public; or deal with confidential and/or sensitive information; and/or require regular supervision and management direction may not be suitable for remote work. 

The Remote Work Policy, procedures and accompanying tools are intended to guide employees and managers in considering what positions or situations are suitable for remote work in a fair, objective, and transparent manner. All remote work arrangements require management’s prior approval.

Will suitability for remote work consider employee seniority?

No, seniority is not a determining factor in determining suitability for remote work.

How will employees be notified of the outcome of their remote work request?

Employees will receive written notification to advise of the outcome of their remote work request. Where a remote work arrangement is approved, the arrangement will be formalized in a remote work agreement. Where a remote work request is denied, the employee will receive a notification letter and be provided with a rationale for the decision. Remote work agreements and notification letters will be provided to Human Resources and a copy will be placed upon an employee’s file.

What if an employee disagrees with their managers assessment of their request for a remote work?

Decisions related to remote work will be at the discretion of the manager and made in a manner that is not arbitrary, discriminatory or in bad faith. If an employee disagrees with the decision that has been made, they are encouraged to discuss further with their manager.

Employee Safety and Health

How can an employee ensure that their remote workplace adheres to safety and health requirements?

Safety and Health Services has developed a Remote Workplace Safety Checklist. All employees are required to complete and attach the checklist to their remote work request. Where a remote work arrangement is established, employees and their managers will be required to regularly review the checklist as part of the evaluation of the remote work arrangement. 

Can the Remote Work Policy be used to consider employee accommodation requests?

No, although remote work may be an accommodation option, any employee request for accommodation due to medical leave, family responsibilities or another human rights characteristic, should be considered through the College’s existing reasonable accommodation procedures and in consultation with Human Resources.

Can an employee work remotely when they are sick?

Generally, no, remote work should not be used as a substitute for sick leave or other medical-related leaves. Where an employee is unable to work due to illness or injury, the College’s regular sick leave or medical accommodation procedures will apply. When experiencing a mild illness that would otherwise prevent them from attending Campus but does not interfere with their ability to do their work, employees may continue to work remotely.

What if an employee gets injured while working remotely?

If an employee suffers an injury while in their designated remote workspace, they should immediately seek assistance, report the incident to their manager as soon as possible.

How can risks related to working alone be addressed when working remotely?

Where employees working remotely will be working alone, the employee and their manager are required to review the College’s Working Alone or in Isolation policy (E12) and establish a plan to identify and minimize risks and, for regular check-ins. Employees are required to ensure their emergency contact information is up to date.

Can an employee request an ergonomic assessment of their remote workplace?

Yes, ergonomic assessments of remote workplaces can be requested by emailing safety@rrc.ca. An employee is required to obtain their manager’s approval prior to submitting a request for an assessment. Further information related to remote work ergonomic consideration is also available through these guidelines

Equipment and Supplies

Who is responsible for the equipment and supplies required to work remotely?

Generally, the College will supply employees with one (1) set of essential equipment and supplies to fulfill their duties. Where an employee’s request to work remotely is approved, it is the employee’s responsibility to transfer any essential equipment or supplies required to fulfill their duties between their remote workplace and the College worksite. It is management’s discretion what essential equipment or supplies an employee needs to perform their duties. Essential equipment and supplies do not include printers, ink and toner cartridges. Printing services for remote employees are available at a College worksite or through the College’s digital print shops. Visit the Printing Services website for further information.

Will employees be reimbursed for equipment and supply costs?

Generally no, an employee who is approved to work remotely will be supplied with the necessary equipment and supplies to fulfill their duties. Employees are expected to acquire all essential equipment and supplies through College/departmental procurement processes and retrieve all essential equipment and supplies from a College worksite. Only in extremely limited and unique circumstances will an employee be reimbursed for an equipment or supply purchases made outside of the College, and the employee must have manager pre-approval before the purchase is made. The use of a college credit card does not override this provision.

Who is responsible for tracking College equipment in remote work arrangements?

Employees are required to provide their managers with a list of any College assets they plan on using in their remote workplace A Remote Work Equipment Tracking tool is being developed.

Where can I find more information about Information Technology Solutions to support remote work (i.e., accessing your voicemail remotely, requesting a laptop, VPN services, etc.)?

RRC Polytech’s Information Technology Solutions (ITS) has established its own FAQ related to remote work IT needs. 

Who is responsible for remote work location furnishings and utilities?

Generally, the employee will be responsible for the furnishings (i.e., desk, chair, file storage etc.) and utilities (i.e., internet, gas, electricity, water etc.) required for their remote work location. The employee is responsible for establishing an appropriate, professional, and ergonomically optimized workspace with proper furnishings and adequate space that supports working efficiently and safely and satisfies the requirements outlined within the Remote Workplace Safety Checklist. Under the COVID-19 Working from Home arrangements, employees were able to access their work task chairs for home use, under the Remote Work Policy, these chairs will need to be returned to the College.

Are employees eligible to claim home office expenses through their personal income tax returns?

For further information on eligibility and the process for claiming home office expenses on your personal income tax return, please refer to the Government of Canada, Canada Revenue Agency, Home Office Expenses for Employees website

Can parking and mileage be expensed for days in the office?

Parking and mileage for coming onto campus on non-remote work days is not eligible for reimbursement. RRC Polytech will continue to offer scramble parking option for those employees working periodic or blended remote working arrangements.

Remote Work Arrangements

Can an employee hold in-person meetings at their remote work location?

No, employees working remotely are not to hold meetings at their remote work location. Any in-person meetings must be conducted at a College worksite.

Once established, can a remote work agreement be changed or terminated?

Yes. All remote work arrangements are temporary and can be modified or terminated, with reasonable notice, by either the employee or management. Employees and their managers are encouraged to remain in regular contact when working remotely and establish regular schedules for checking-in and evaluating the remote work arrangements.

Once established, can an employee be asked to come into the office on a day in which they are scheduled to work remotely?

Yes. In order to maintain services, respond to an urgent situation, participate in employee development events or for other operational reasons management may
require an employee who is working remotely to report to a College worksite. In such situations, management will provide as much notice as possible. Employees will be expected to ensure they have arrangements in place to report to a College worksite where required. Where an employee is required to report to work – the employee will be responsible to travel to work on their own time; and any costs associated with travel or parking will not be reimbursable. 

How will teams communicate effectively with some members working remotely?

Each team will need to establish team norms and methods of communication to support effective remote work arrangements. Examples might include one day a week where everyone is in the office or agreed upon communication norms around when to use email, MS Teams, telephone or in-person communication.

Will office space be reassigned for those working remotely?

One of the benefits of remote work is the opportunity to review campus space planning. Campus Planning and Sustainability will lead any space planning considerations.

Does a remote work arrangement need to have a recurring schedule?

No. Management will be responsible for approving remote work arrangement schedules. Some departments may implement set schedules to meet operational requirements and to share workload among staff. Other departments may be able to approve a more flexible approach to scheduling remote work days. Operational effectiveness, client support and team communication are some considerations that may impact remote work schedules.