3.1 Job Flexibility

This policy was last updated July 24, 2018. See the update history page for more information.

MIT generally permits Job Flexibility for individual employees or groups when, in the judgment of the department, lab or center (DLC), such arrangements meet the business needs and do not negatively impact the DLC. Job Flexibility refers to any work schedule or location that differs from the DLC’s standard work schedule or work location. Job Flexibility may include flex time, compressed workweek, job sharing, and off-site work; it may apply to one, a few, or all members of a group.

Supervisors should ensure that any Job Flexibility arrangement allows the DLC to:

Maintain

  • The DLC’s basic office hours during which services are provided
  • The unit's effectiveness in carrying out its research, teaching, service, or administrative functions
  • The usual performance standards for work
  • Sufficient communication, including in-person communication, among all members of the group
  • The employee’s availability for colleagues, customers, and others; and

Avoid

  • Undue burdens on other individuals in the DLC (including supervisors)
  • Overtime costs
  • Problems of safety, security, or supervision

In addition, any schedule (whether alternative or not) that involves employees working alone at an MIT facility under potentially hazardous conditions must comply with MIT's policy on Working Alone.

Job Flexibility arrangements are not an entitlement, and should be reviewed periodically, for example, every six to twelve months. If, in the judgment of the DLC, any previously approved arrangement for Job Flexibility proves incompatible with operational needs at any time, or if performance problems arise, the arrangement may be unilaterally terminated by the DLC in consultation with its Human Resources Officer. Supervisors are expected to give reasonable notice to the employee, to the extent feasible, of the termination or change of a Job Flexibility arrangement.

Supervisors must oversee an employee’s performance sufficiently to be confident that the quality and quantity of work is comparable to what would be done if the employee worked a regular schedule at MIT. (See Section 5.1, Responsibilities of Supervisors and Individual Employees in Payroll Matters.) Supervisors may not ask or suggest that hourly paid employees report less time than was in fact worked. 

Employees working pursuant to a Job Flexibility arrangement are expected to be as productive as if they were working on-site and during regularly scheduled working hours. Hourly paid staff are required to account accurately for all time worked, wherever that work is performed; over-reporting or under-reporting hours worked may result in discipline up to and including termination. As with work on-site, any overtime work performed away from MIT must be authorized in advance by a departmental supervisor. See Sec. 5.4.2, Notice and Assignment of Overtime.

Employees who seek a flexible working arrangement due to a disability should consult with Disability Services in the  Human Resources Office to discuss possible accommodations.

More information on Job Flexibility, such as eligibility, sample request forms, methods of ensuring accountability, and best practices for performing and supervising work away from MIT can be found in the MIT Job Flexibility guidelines. When planning to begin or end a Flexible Job arrangement, the DLC should discuss those plans with their Human Resources Officer; flexibility for a service staff member also requires approval from Labor Relations. Individual employees considering requesting a Flexible Job arrangement may also consult with their HRO for guidance on requesting Job Flexibility.

3.1.1 Alternative Schedules

Supervisors are generally responsible for establishing the working hours for the employees who report to them, consistent with the practices of their DLC. In addition to approving a schedule change at the request of an employee, supervisors may need to change an employee’s schedule due to operational needs (that is, not at the employee’s request). As noted above, in cases of unilateral change by the supervisor, the supervisor is expected to give reasonable notice of such a change to the employee, to the extent feasible.

If a paid absence such as vacation or sick leave falls on a day that an employee on a flexible schedule would ordinarily be scheduled to work, the employee will be paid, through the normal process, for the number of hours he or she would have been paid had he or she not been absent, assuming he or she has sufficient vacation or sick leave time, and appropriate deductions will be made from those balances. Similarly, if a holiday or a special holiday falls on a day that an employee with a flexible schedule would ordinarily be scheduled to work, that day is generally paid as a holiday or special holiday; see Section 4.1.3, Computation of Holiday Pay (for support staff); Section 5.9, Special Holiday Closing.

3.1.2 Off-site Work

In off-site work arrangements, some, or occasionally all, of the work is done away from the usual office or other MIT facility.  The off-site location may be the employee’s home or other suitable location that is sufficiently free from distraction that the employee can work effectively.

Off-site work may not be regularly performed while caring for a child or dependent adult or while undertaking other significant responsibilities. 

Not all jobs lend themselves to off-site work, and in some cases, only some but not all members of a group may work off-site. In most cases, employees who regularly work off-site also regularly do some work on-site, for example, working on-site for part of the work week.

If MIT is closed for an emergency, employees scheduled to work off-site in the geographic area affected by the emergency may be eligible for closing pay in accordance with Section 5.8, Emergency Closing or Early Release. Employees working off-site who are unable to work due to an emergency in their local area that does not affect the Institute (that is, when the Institute is open) are not eligible for emergency closing pay; such employees may choose to use any available vacation or personal time in order to be paid for that time.