University Work Rules

Work Rules IconManagers are responsible for informing employees of university policies and procedures and for developing departmental policies and procedures. In addition, managers are to inform employees when they violate a department work rule to ensure that the action is not repeated.

Work rules cover employee conduct, dress code, and use of university equipment and supplies. Every employee is expected to maintain established work hours and to avoid being absent or tardy. Employees are also expected to respect the university's substance abuse and smoking policies. Managers should communicate these policies and procedures and take steps to ensure that their employees are aware of what constitutes proper behavior. In addition, managers should make sure that their employees exhibit the professional standards of conduct described below.

Necessity of Following Work Rules and Communicating Violations

Managers should be familiar with information on Conduct and Work Rules in the Employee Handbook. If a manager learns that an employee under his or her supervision has violated a work rule, the manager should take action necessary to correct the violation and prevent its recurrence. This may include formal or informal communication or written documentation of the offense. Employees who are not informed of a violation may not be aware that they have violated a work rule and are more likely to repeat the offense.

 

Conduct and Work Behavior

Managers' conduct and work behavior often serve as the standard to which others adhere. Managers are to treat everyone with civility and respect in a dignified manner consistent with university values. Verbal abuse should not be tolerated by any employee. Employees should be encouraged to report verbal abuse to their managers or to the Equal Employment Opportunity and Employee Relations office (EEO/ER). All employees should be familiar with information on work behavior found in the Employee Handbook.

University Dress Code

All employees should dress in a manner that is consistent with a professional business environment. Individual departments should define specific guidelines only with the approval of the Office of Equal Employment Opportunity (EEO), which can provide examples of such guidelines. Departments with specific needs based on certain job functions (i.e., construction) or employee safety (i.e., medical research labs) should make requirements known to prospective employees prior to their start of employment. For more information, contact the Office of Equal Employment Opportunity at 202-994-9656.

Use of University Equipment and Supplies

Managers should exhibit proper respect and adhere to university conventions for all university equipment and supplies. Furthermore, managers should require the same behavior from their staffs. There are specific university guidelines provided in the Policy Center regarding use of technology, equipment, and supplies. All employees have a responsibility to take proper care of their equipment including securing it against theft, damage, or destruction. Information regarding proper use of equipment and supplies can also be found in:

  • Code of Conduct for Computing Systems and Services: Use of Computing Systems and Services. A sample guideline provided in the code of conduct prohibits employees from downloading copyrighted mp3 files.

  • Information Security Policy (PDF): This policy addresses the need to incorporate the information security components of confidentiality, integrity, security and availability into the daily usage of information technology systems and applications by employees.

  • Employee Handbook, Policies and Practices.

Absenteeism and Tardiness

Employee absenteeism and tardiness have a detrimental impact on the workflow of a department or work unit. Employee morale may be damaged when employees in a unit are frequently absent or tardy because it places additional burdens on the other members of the unit. Frequent tardiness and absenteeism can become a performance issue and may lead to disciplinary action, up to and including termination.

Managers are responsible for communicating to their employees the specific department guidelines and procedures governing hours of work, requests for time off, and notification requirements when employees will be late or unable to come to work. When an employee violates the notice requirements or is repeatedly tardy or absent, the manager should clearly communicate these concerns to the employee. If there is no improvement, continuing concerns should be documented through the disciplinary process.

Substance Abuse

In accordance with the Drug-Free Workplace Act of 1988 and the Drug-Free Schools and Communities Act of 1989, the university is committed to maintaining a drug-free workplace and promoting high standards of employee health and safety. University standards of conduct prohibit the illegal manufacture, possession, distribution, or use of alcohol and drugs. University manuals, codes of conduct, and publications specify penalties for violations of these policies, including suspension or dismissal from the university.

Employees may be dismissed for drug-related offenses, including unauthorized use or possession of alcoholic beverages or illegal or nonprescription controlled substances, or for reporting to or being at work while under their influence. The misuse of prescription drugs by employees during working hours, while on university business, or while using university-owned property is strictly prohibited. Managers who believe that an employee may be using or possessing controlled substances, alcohol, or prescription drugs should consult with the EEO/ER office.

Federal law requires that an employee notify the EEO/ER office within five days if convicted under a criminal drug statute of offenses committed on university property or while on university business. If convicted of such offenses, the employee must notify the university of the circumstances.

Violations of the GW substance abuse policy will result in disciplinary action up to and including termination. In addition to any disciplinary action other than termination, the employee may be referred to the university's Faculty/Employee Assistance Program (F/EAP) and, through that program, to a treatment and counseling program for alcohol or drug abuse.

The university cooperates fully with law enforcement authorities. Violations of the substance abuse policy that are also violations of federal or local law will be referred to the appropriate agency. In such situations, action to address the infraction may proceed concurrently in the university and in the criminal justice system.

An employee who is governed by a collective bargaining agreement or is working under U.S. Department of Defense grants or contracts may also be subject under those documents to additional drug-free workplace compliance requirements.

Smoking

It is the policy of the university to promote a smoke-free environment in all university owned and managed buildings and in all owned and leased vehicles. It is also the policy of the university to promote a smoke-free environment at its Foggy Bottom, Mount Vernon, and Virginia Science and Technology campuses generally, including in and on university owned outdoor spaces as well as on public space that abuts buildings in the Foggy Bottom campus that are used by the university for academic, athletic, recreational, residential, and administrative purposes.

Review the university's Smoke-Free policy (PDF).

Staff members having questions regarding the policy should consult with their HR representative.

Hours of Work

Workweek and Work Schedule

  • The university has established and maintains a 40-hour workweek.

  • The workweek begins on Sunday and ends on Saturday.

  • Daily work schedules are set by individual departments to address the service needs of the university within the workweek. Department heads establish hours of operation for their respective departments and determine the daily work schedules of their staffs, including daily arrival times, meal periods, and departure times.

  • Hours worked in a workweek include the time an employee is required to be on duty, on the premises, or at another place of work.

  • Employees in nonexempt positions are subject to the overtime pay provisions of the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) when the hours worked in a workweek exceed 40.

Meal Periods

  • Meal periods are not time worked and therefore are not paid. For nonexempt employees, a meal period must meet the Fair Labor Standards Act criteria of a bona fide meal period to be considered time not worked and therefore time not paid. A bona fide meal period is defined as an authorized period of time, during the workday, when an employee is completely free from duties.

  • Managers are responsible for ensuring that nonexempt employees are provided a bona fide meal period of 30 minutes or more. If a nonexempt employee is not provided a meal period in which they are completely free from duties, then the time must be considered time worked. For example, if a secretary is scheduled for a 30-minute meal period but is asked by his or her manager to answer the phones while he or she eats lunch at his or her desk, the secretary is not completely free from work duties. The result is that the employee has not been provided a bona fide meal under the criteria of the Fair Labor Standards Act and therefore must be paid for the time worked.

  • If a nonexempt employee decides on his or her own to eat and continue to work during his or her scheduled bona fide meal period, even though the manager did not authorize a waiver of the scheduled bona fide meal period, the university is legally obligated to pay the nonexempt employee for the time worked.

  • If a nonexempt employee works during only part of his or her meal period, the employee need be paid only for the time worked. However, if the partial bona fide meal period is less than 30 minutes, under the Fair Labor Standards Act this must be considered time worked and therefore time paid.

  • Meal periods at the university are scheduled from 30 minutes to 60 minutes.

  • Typically the workday spans 8½, 8¾, or 9 hours, with a related 30-, 45-, or 60-minute allowance for a meal-resulting in an 8-hour work commitment.

  • It is important that managers clearly communicate to nonexempt employees that they are not to deviate from their scheduled meal periods without their manager's advance approval. Failure to adhere to these directives is considered a disciplinary issue and the Equal Employment Opportunity and Employee Relations Office (EEO/ER) should be consulted on the appropriate course of action.

Breaks

  • The Fair Labor Standards Act, the District of Columbia, Maryland, and Virginia do not mandate the provision of breaks, except in certain cases when minors are working. Contact EEO/ER or your HR representative for more information.

  • Bargaining agreements may include mandated breaks, and they must be adhered to in order to ensure compliance with the agreement.

  • While the Fair Labor Standards Act does not mandate the provision of breaks, it does address breaks in terms of time worked and time paid for nonexempt employees. Breaks that are 20 minutes or less are considered time worked under the Fair Labor Standards Act and therefore time that must be paid.

  • The use of structured breaks within a department is at the discretion of the department head based on operational requirements.

Flexible Work Arrangements -Alternative Work Schedules

The University confirms its commitment to assisting employees in developing a work-life balance by supporting the use of Alternative Work Schedules, when it is reasonable and practical to do so and where operational needs will not be adversely affected.

Alternative Work Schedules can benefit the department/university by responding to the department’s needs to provide effective and efficient service. By offering flexibility to employees, Alternative Work Schedules can:

Alternative Work Schedules are not an entitlement, are not a university benefit, and do not change the at-will nature of employment with the university. The arrangement can be altered or terminated by the university at any time pursuant to business needs.

At the university, options for Alternative Work Schedules are comprised of

Within any of the Alternative Work Schedules, non-exempt employees are still subject to all requirements of the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), and employees who are exempt from FLSA are expected to work the number of hours required to fulfill their responsibilities.

Managers remain responsible for verifying and overseeing performance of employees with Alternative Work Schedules. Effective communication between the manager and employee is essential. Managers and employees can consult with EEO/ER for assistance in managing employees on Alternative Work Schedules.

Flexible Work Arrangements: Telecommuting

The university confirms its commitment to assisting employees in developing a work-life balance by supporting the use of telecommuting, when it is reasonable and practical to do so and when operational needs will not be adversely affected.

Telecommuting can also benefit the department/university by responding to the department’s needs to provide effective and efficient service and may be a requirement of a position. By offering flexibility to employees, Telecommuting can:

Telecommuting allows an employee to work from home all, or part of, his or her regular workweek. It is an arrangement that may be appropriate for some employees in some positions when job, employee, and manager characteristics are best suited to such an arrangement. Telecommuting is not intended to permit employees to have time to work at other jobs or to run their own business. It is not an entitlement; it is not a university-wide benefit; and it does not change the at-will or other conditions of employment with the university. The arrangement can be altered or terminated by the university at any time with or without notice, pursuant to business needs.

  • Improve employee retention and control staff costs due to reduced turnover
  • Enhance recruitment
  • Reduce absenteeism and increase productivity
  • Improve morale
  • Provide opportunities for expanded service hours
    • Flex Time, Adjusted Meal Period,
    • Compressed Work Weeks, and
    • Compressed Two Week Work Periods (exempt employees only).
    • Improve employee retention and control staff costs due to reduced turnover
    • Enhance recruitment
    • Reduce absenteeism and increase productivity
    • Improve morale
    • Address restricted workspace