Administering the Work From Home Program


The Work from Home (WFH) Program provides employees the flexibility to work from home while maintaining the necessary level of productivity, engagement and performance required by the university. Through the program, employees can apply for a Work from Home Agreement.

Managers and Supervisors can use the Work From Home Toolkit in conjunction with the Work From Home Program to assist in assessing employee requests, communicating decisions and expectations to employees and managing remotely.


Managers are encouraged to access support and advice from their Human Resources Service Partner (HRSP) as required.

Frequently Asked Questions

WFH Agreement

Who initiates the WFH Agreement?

The Employee initiates a WFH Agreement request.

An Employee interested in a WFH Agreement reviews the program materials and assesses whether their position is eligible to apply.

For additional information on the application process, see the Work from Home Guide.

What if I have existing employees already working from home?

During the pandemic, many employees were required to work from home due to public health restrictions. The university is working to fully transition back to on-campus work by January 2022.

An Employee who wishes to continue working from home as of January 2022, will have to apply through the WFH program and have their application considered. If the request is approved, a signed WFH Agreement will be required

Does the University Vaccine Directive apply to Employees on a WFH Agreement?

Yes. Employees will still be required to follow the University Vaccine Directive.

A WFH Agreement does not override the requirements under the vaccine directive.

As part of the WFH Agreement, the Employee must be able to attend designated in-person hours on campus as determined by the Manager/Supervisor and as such, will be required to comply with the University’s vaccine directive.

Can an employee apply for a WFH agreement in lieu of being vaccinated?

No. Vaccine requirements are laid out in the University Vaccine Directive.

As part of the WFH Agreement, the Employee must be able to attend designated in-person hours on campus as determined by the Manager/Supervisor and as such, will be required to comply with the University’s vaccine directive.

Can I require the Employee to work from home using the WFH program?

No. The intent of the WFH Program is to provide employees the option to request a WFH Agreement if they are seeking more flexibility in their work locations to improve work-life balance.

Use of the program is voluntary and is initiated by the employee, not the university.

What if I don’t want employees to work from home?

If there are valid operational or performance concerns, these issues should be addressed during the approval process and the Employee’s application should be denied.

Considerations:

  • Administrative burden is not a rationale for denying an application.
  • Working from home conditions during the pandemic have demonstrated that many employees can effectively work from home.
  • Now that we are returning to work on campus, some employees may be seeking more flexibility in their work location to improve work-life balance.
  • Managers/Supervisors are encouraged to spend the time up front planning and developing alternate methods of communication and performance evaluation to support this option if it is operationally feasible.
Can my Employee who has been approved and working in a WFH Agreement return to working in the office full-time?

Yes. WFH Agreements are voluntary and entered into with the mutual agreement of the Employee and Manager/Supervisor.

The Agreement may be terminated at any time by either party with 30 calendar days written notice.

The notice period can be shortened by mutual agreement, however, considerations should be given to space allocation.

WFH Program Approvals

What if I receive multiple requests that cannot all be accommodated, what is the criteria used to determine which requests should be approved?

With the introduction of the program, it is anticipated there may be many employees who will apply.

The intent of having the initial application period in Fall 2021 is for all employees who want to work from home under the new program to apply and the Manager/Supervisors will be able to assess all the applications together.

Although there may be several employees performing the same role, each employee must apply for the program and the WFH applications will be reviewed and approved on an individual basis.

When considering multiple requests, explore options that allow you to treat employees fairly and equitably. For example, instead of one employee working from home five days per week, perhaps five employees could each work from home one day per week.

To assist with the number of applications expected, the program will be phased in by eligible employee groups.

How should I handle a situation where it may be appropriate to approve one person's request for a WFH and deny the request of another?

All decisions should focus on objective criteria related to work performance, job demands and operational requirements.

A consistent approach should be applied to reviewing each application objectively and ensure the principles of fairness and equity are upheld at all stages of the process.

It is important to communicate to each employee the decision and the rationale for the decision.

It is recommended that you consult your HR Service Partner (HRSP) for guidance to help develop messaging for communicating these decisions in a supportive manner.

How are requests for a WFH Agreement being handled for those who have an existing accommodation?

It may be possible for an employee to be approved for a WFH Agreement who has an existing medical or non-medical accommodation.

Contact Return to Work Services at org.recovery@ualberta.ca to determine any impacts in approving a WFH Agreement for those already on medical accommodation.

Contact your HRSP to determine any impacts in approving a WFH Agreement for those already in non-medical accommodations.

Can our Faculty/Department implement a “standard” minimum number of in-person hours for those applying for a WFH Agreement?

Yes. As noted in the program guide, Managers/Supervisors have the ability to establish the minimum required number of in-person hours per month. This may include a minimum standard number of hours for a particular Faculty/Department based on operational requirements.

Health and Safety

Should the Employee undertake a hazard assessment associated with their workstation at home?

Yes. A specific Home Office Hazard Assessment template has been developed for use.

The assessment must be completed including the implementation of the appropriate controls.

You must maintain a record of the hazard assessment.

Does the Employee have to purchase their own first aid kit?

No. It is the responsibility of the employer to provide the necessary first aid kit for employees on WFH Agreements.

For information on how to obtain the kits and the associated costs, please refer to the Manager’s Toolkit.

The cost associated with the First Aid kit is the responsibility of the Faculty/Department.

The university has sourced basic first aid kits that meet occupational, health and safety requirements. The cost of the kits are approximately $17.00 and can be obtained through Supply Management Services.

If an employee injures themselves while working from home and while undertaking work related duties are they covered under WCB and do they need to complete an incident report?

Yes. Their home office is considered a worksite when the Employee is undertaking university related work duties.

As the supervisor, you have the same WCB reporting responsibilities as if the Employee is working on campus.

The Employee must notify you of an incident, complete an incident report using the HSE ARISE online incident reporting system and as the supervisor you must follow up on the incident report accordingly.

Home Work Location

Can an Employee refuse to have the security software installed on their home personal computer or cell phone?

No. Employees will not be permitted to use personal computers or cell phones to conduct university business if they refuse to install the required technology applications.

The WFH Agreement outlines the requirements to adhere to the installation of security applications on any university-issued computer (or personal computer if being used to conduct U of A work) and will be required to sign-up for Multi-Factor Authentication and Endpoint Security applications.

Employees using their personal cell phones for university business will be required to install applications such as Mobile Device Management.

Can employees borrow university computer equipment and/or office furniture so they have a proper workstation at home?

As part of the normal employment process, the university will assign one desktop computer or laptop including a technology accessory kit (mouse, keyboard, monitor, docking station) if required.

Employees who apply for a WFH Agreement are responsible for the cost of office furniture that meets ergonomic standards and associated costs with working from home.

All equipment and furnishings purchased directly by the University (or through respective spending accounts) remain the property of the University and will be returned at the end of the WFH Agreement, or earlier if requested by the University.

All equipment must be tagged and updated by the Faculty/Department Unit Equipment Coordinator as necessary per the Equipment and Furnishings Asset Management Policy.

How do I address employees who have moved out of the geographical area* during the pandemic?

During the pandemic, some employees may have chosen to temporarily relocate (i.e. to be closer to family or to provide care for someone) or have moved outside of Alberta to relocate on a permanent basis.

Approval Sought: When employees discussed their plans to move with their Manager/Supervisor, they should have been advised that their request to work outside of the geographical area was approved on a temporary basis and they would be expected to return to work on campus once the public health restrictions were lifted.

Approval Not Sought: If Managers/Supervisors were not made aware employees had moved outside of the geographical area and an employee is now advising their Manager/Supervisor that they no longer live in the geographical area it is best you consult with your Human Resource Service Partner.

A WFH Agreement is not intended to facilitate the employment of individuals who wish to reside outside of the geographical area.

Employing individuals who reside outside of the province of Alberta poses many risks and issues related to pay, benefits, employment standards, collective agreement application and legislative compliance.

If you have employees who have moved away, you will need to review their individual circumstances on a case by case basis.

*Geographical area - for the purposes of this Program, geographical area is defined as the Greater Edmonton Area (Beaumont, Devon, Edmonton, Fort Saskatchewan, Greater Parkland Regional, Leduc Regional, Morinville, St. Albert and Sherwood Park), Sturgeon County and Camrose regions. If you were working outside of the geographical regions noted above prior to February 1, 2020, please consult your Manager/Supervisor.

Managing WFH Agreements

What resources are available in helping me effectively manage in a hybrid environment?
There are a number of university resources to support you during the transition to hybrid work teams such as Strategies and Practices for Leading Hybrid Work Teams, the Workplace Advice Line and your Human Resource Service Partner.
What if I determine that the WFH Agreement isn’t working?

Managers/Supervisors should be discussing concerns identified with the Employee and provide appropriate feedback and the opportunity to improve.

The WFH Agreement may be terminated at any time by either party based with 30 calendar days written notice.

This notice period can be shortened by mutual agreement.

Additional detail about the review processes can be found in the Manager/Supervisor Toolkit.

Where do I go if I have a question not covered in the FAQs?
Consult with your HR Service Partner. If you are not sure who your HRSP is, you can use the Find Your HR Contact application.