Position Classification Guidance

Brown has developed guidance for division leaders and department heads responsible for determining hybrid and remote position classifications for staff.

As Brown prepares to return to significant on-site operations, the University is providing guidance to department heads for employees who have portions of jobs that may be performed remotely if those arrangements benefit their office or department and the University. This page reflects the guidance communicated to division leaders to support the implementation of new policies for assigning the three new position classifications — “on-site,” “hybrid eligible,” and “remote eligible” — to all union and non-union staff positions of grades 13 and below.

Ensuring Equity

Equity is essential in assigning position classifications. Position classifications should be equitable and consistent across departments and divisions, and the expectation is that they do not frequently change. The classifications should be determined based on the job function and the operational needs of the University and department. Position classifications inform the nature of requests from staff eligible for an Alternative Work Assignment (AWA) for remote or hybrid work purposes, but do not guarantee one of these work arrangements.

University senior leaders are expected to work with their leadership teams and department heads to assign position classifications to all staff positions in their areas. Senior leaders were instructed to review all position classification recommendations and submit them to University Human Resources by June 25, 2021. Department heads and managers will be responsible for informing staff of their position’s classification after University Human Resources (UHR) conveys approval of the classifications to senior leaders.

The information below provides definitions for all three classifications, as well as considerations for assigning the hybrid eligible and remote eligible classifications. As indicated below, on-site classifications are subject to few considerations (the positions require on-site physical engagement with individuals, equipment, materials, etc.).

Position Classification Definitions

The classification process involves an assessment of job positions and the job duties of the position. Departments are not assessing whether the individual in the position can or should work on-site, remotely or on a hybrid-remote schedule, but instead whether the job duties of the position can effectively be performed under the conditions of the classification.

Definitions of the three position classifications are as follows:

  • On-site: The job duties cannot physically be performed remotely and are required to be performed on-site. Staff in positions with this classification will not be eligible for remote or hybrid work assignments. With supervisor’s approval and based on the operational needs of the University, employees in these jobs may request flexible/compressed work week arrangements provided such arrangements do not lead to overtime pay.
  • Hybrid eligible: While most job duties are required to be performed on-site, a portion can be performed remotely. Generally, work can be done off-site without loss of productivity, but some work requires on-site presence and/or in-person collaboration with other team members.
  • Remote eligible: All job duties of the position can be performed remotely in a non-Brown University work location (e.g., employee’s residence) without disruption to other staff and work productivity levels. It is expected that remote eligible work may be available in cases where such arrangements meet the operational needs of the University.

Considerations for Hybrid- and Remote-Eligible Classification

We recognize that making decisions about classifications can have implications, not only for operations, but also for workplace dynamics and how individual staff members view their day-to-day relationships with their colleagues (e.g., the extent to which engagement and collaboration is expected in the work they do).

The list below offers standard considerations for making determinations about the hybrid-eligible and remote-eligible position classifications, though department heads may develop others, depending on the work functions of their department. On-site classifications are subject to few considerations; the positions require on-site physical engagement with individuals, equipment, materials, etc.

The essential priority is that all classifications be handled equitably when developing classifications under the following considerations, which are aligned with the Alternative Work Assignments Policy:

  • The position has job functions that can be performed at a remote site without diminishing the quality of the work or disrupting the productivity of a unit and the University.
  • Performance can be measured by quantitative or qualitative results-oriented standards (for the purpose of assessing effective performance under an AWA).
  • The position can be effectively supervised remotely.
  • The position has a minimal or flexible need for specialized materials or equipment available only at the regularly assigned Brown University work location (this includes interaction with colleagues, supervisors, clients, and external parties, such as vendors).
  • The position either does not have job functions that require in-person interaction, or these interactions can be scheduled for specific days.
  • Collaboration and teamwork in the same office locations are not necessary to maintain the same levels of efficiency, productivity and overall functioning of the work unit.
  • The confidentiality and privacy of the work being performed is not at risk of being compromised if performed in a non-Brown University work location (whether electronically, physically or otherwise). Additional assessment will be conducted when the employee is working with personally identifiable information (“PII”) or personal health information (“PHI”).

In addition, managers have been offered this further guidance to consider:

  • As you think about your operations, is collaboration and teamwork in the same office location necessary to maintain the same levels of efficiency, productivity and overall effectiveness of the work unit or department?
  • What is the nature of the position and work performed, the essential functions of the position, operational needs of the unit, and what would be the effects of a remote or hybrid schedule on team members and on other departments (such as collaboration, mentoring and workflow distribution and coordination)?
  • Can the job duties be efficiently and effectively performed remotely?
  • Do you have the appropriate technology/computing support to accommodate a remote or hybrid schedule for the position?
  • What resources can the department contribute to ensure an effective remote or hybrid assignment?

Determining Work Schedules

Individuals approved through the AWA process to have a hybrid work schedule will work directly with managers to establish a regular consistent schedule of the same days they will be on-site each week vs. remote based on other employees’ schedules in the office. This is particularly important for employees residing outside of Rhode Island for accurate tax and other withholdings, and scheduling must be in full-day increments (if exempt) in order to avoid time tracking issues.

In addition, employees with approved hybrid arrangements must work from a Brown location at least two days per week, though the operational needs of the department may require additional days. Departments may choose to test alternative approaches as a pilot during this time of transition. Flexible work arrangements will continue to be subject to review every year, including the new categories of Alternative Work Assignments.

Vaccination Requirement

It is important to note, this position classification process is separate and distinct from the process for employees seeking exemptions to the University’s vaccination requirement on medical or religious grounds (as applicable under law).

While altered work arrangements might be considered among possible accommodations for medical or religious exemptions, that is a separate process from the determination of whether job duties can be performed remotely for position classification. Absence of or refusal to get a vaccination is not a valid criterion in and of itself for a position to be considered eligible for an AWA.

Training and Resources

As noted on the Hybrid and Remote Work page of this website, after the position classifications have been approved, UHR will offer mandatory training to supervisors for reviewing requests for AWAs from eligible employees, as well as training to eligible employees to provide instruction in writing a request for an AWA.

University Human Resources is available to assist with determining position classifications and answering other questions: Please email [email protected].

Last updated Aug. 3, 2021. Information on this page may be updated as the University’s planning evolves and/or public health guidance prompts a shift in Brown’s operations and protocols.