BYU recently announced a new policy barring employees, including those who work remotely, from working outside of Utah.
The decision, which applies to both student and non-student employees, comes despite an increase in remote work and online class offerings during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Although we do not have specific numbers, we do know that the occurrence of BYU employees working from locations out of state increased during the COVID-19 pandemic when many employees were asked to work remotely,” BYU spokeswoman Carri Jenkins said.
Jenkins said the impetus for the policy was the fact that employees who work outside Utah may prompt various requirements and penalties under laws — such as those related to taxes or insurance — in other states and countries that the university may not be able or prepared to comply with.
The policy states that “living in Utah is a condition of employment, and university work must be primarily performed in Utah. Remote work outside of Utah is permitted only during isolated, short-term travel.” BYU’s Human Resources website suggests that trips longer than one month would be inconsistent with the definition of “isolated, short-term travel.”
The only exceptions to the policy are listed below:
- University-approved assignment or program (such as a study abroad or academic conference).
- Professional development leave as defined by BYU’s Faculty Leaves Policy.
- Work by an employee filling a non-benefited position and employed by a BYU-owned subsidiary formally registered in the state to do business.
- Temporary remote work by a student employee during a break between consecutive semesters (such as over the summer break).
In order for students to qualify for that last exception, they must have supervisor approval and meet credit hour requirements for student employment.
Examples of situations that would and wouldn’t be exceptions to the policy are posted on BYU’s Human Resources website. One example says a professor who unexpectedly moves outside of Utah during the semester wouldn’t be allowed to finish the semester remotely. Another example states that a student living outside of Utah at a parent’s home while attending online classes would not qualify as an exception.
Jenkins said these examples are meant to outline the policy going forward and don’t account for the temporary flexibility BYU is allowing student employees during Winter Semester. Jenkins said some decisions will be left up to individual supervisors, who have “some flexibility to authorize or allow out-of-state work based on need or circumstance.”
“However, full compliance with the policy is expected as soon as possible,” she said. “There are no specific exceptions for students living in countries with travel restrictions. Questions about individual situations can be directed to the manager of student employment.”