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Alternative Work Arrangements

Through June 20, all schools and units should continue to provide the maximum reasonable flexibility to individuals who request individualized remote or alternative work arrangements (which include scheduling and density arrangements described in a school’s or unit’s Return to Campus plan) due to the negative impact of COVID-19. Through June 20, flexible work options could include, but are not limited to:

  • Allowing any faculty or staff member to work remotely
  • Allowing a faculty member to:
    • take a scheduled leave early;
    • team teach for the term;
    • reschedule teaching responsibilities to a later quarter;
  • Allowing temporary job-sharing arrangements for staff
  • Allowing non-exempt employees to fulfill their scheduled hours through a non-standard work schedule
  • Reducing service obligations for faculty during the 2020-21 academic year

Phase Out of Policy

The COVID-19 Alternative Work Arrangements Policy will be phased out after June 20 with an end-date between July 31 and September 3. Schools and units will determine the date on which the AWA will be sunset, based on their operational needs. Between June 20 and the policy end date, schools and units should provide reasonable flexibility to individuals, but ensure that business needs can be met. The qualifying criteria for an AWA (listed below) will narrow after June 20, in alignment with improving public health conditions.

Employees who require the AWA beyond June 20 should speak with their managers about their needs. Existing AWA arrangements will not automatically extend beyond June 20.

Northwestern is currently developing a workforce strategy, including guidelines and expectations for in-person work and opportunities for remote flexibility. More information about this will be shared throughout the spring and summer.

Policy on COVID-19 Alternative Work Arrangements

Northwestern established a temporary provision for faculty and staff required to return to in-person campus work activities, or who support ongoing academic research, who request alternative work arrangements due to:

  • Own or household risk of exposure,
  • Required care of minor and/or adult dependents,
  • Limited access to reasonably safe public transportation options (through June 20 only), and/or
  • Inability to secure child or elder care.

A school or unit's Return to Campus Plan may adequately address employee scheduling or flexibility needs. In these cases, the provisions of this policy need not apply. This policy is intended to address situations in which an employee requires additional flexibility. Employees will need to complete an Alternative Work Arrangements Request Form (VPN required). Faculty can complete this Alternative Work Arrangement Proposal Form to share with your department chair or supervisor.

Visit the Office for Human Resources for more information about this policy.