3.1 Conditions of Work and Personal Conduct

3.1 Conditions of Work and Personal Conduct

The guiding policy relating to conditions of work and personal conduct is that the quality of work and the atmosphere in which it is done be consistent with the reputation of MIT as a leading educational and research institution. An employee's conduct when working for or representing the Institute, or when on Institute premises, should meet acceptable standards of the community and show respect for the law and the rights of others.

When not on Institute premises or representing the Institute, an employee's personal conduct is his or her own to regulate. However, if an employee engages in behavior that discredits the Institute or shows a serious lack of dependability or good judgment, it may be appropriate to review that employee's responsibilities at the Institute. Any such review will be conducted by Human Resources at the request of a department head or manager.

It is MIT's policy to have as few rules and regulations as are consistent with efficient administration and general welfare. Some departments and laboratories may have specific rules which reflect their own situations and which must be consistent with any generally applicable rules and regulations. Exceptions to specific rules may create more problems than they resolve. Exceptions should therefore be made only for important and clearly understood reasons. Managers and supervisors should consult with their Human Resources Officer before making significant exceptions.

3.1.1 Job Flexibility

MIT generally permits Job Flexibility for individual employees or groups when, in the judgment of the department, lab or center (DLC), such arrangements meet the business needs and do not negatively impact the DLC. Job Flexibility refers to any work schedule or location that differs from the DLC’s standard work schedule or work location. Job Flexibility may include flex time, compressed workweek, job sharing, and off-site work; it may apply to one, a few, or all members of a group.

Supervisors should ensure that any Job Flexibility arrangement allows the DLC to:


  • The DLC’s basic office hours during which services are provided
  • The unit's effectiveness in carrying out its research, teaching, service, or administrative functions
  • The usual performance standards for work
  • Sufficient communication, including in-person communication, among all members of the group
  • The employee’s availability for colleagues, customers, and others; and


  • Undue burdens on other individuals in the DLC (including supervisors)
  • Overtime costs
  • Problems of safety, security, or supervision

In addition, any schedule (whether alternative or not) that involves employees working alone at an MIT facility under potentially hazardous conditions must comply with MIT's policy on Working Alone.

Job Flexibility arrangements are not an entitlement, and should be reviewed periodically, for example, every six to twelve months. If, in the judgment of the DLC, any previously approved arrangement for Job Flexibility proves incompatible with operational needs at any time, or if performance problems arise, the arrangement may be unilaterally terminated by the DLC in consultation with its Human Resources Officer. Supervisors are expected to give reasonable notice to the employee, to the extent feasible, of the termination or change of a Job Flexibility arrangement.

Supervisors must oversee an employee’s performance sufficiently to be confident that the quality and quantity of work is comparable to what would be done if the employee worked a regular schedule at MIT. (See Section 5.1, Responsibilities of Supervisors and Individual Employees in Payroll Matters.) Supervisors may not ask or suggest that hourly paid employees report less time than was in fact worked. 

Employees working pursuant to a Job Flexibility arrangement are expected to be as productive as if they were working on-site and during regularly scheduled working hours. Hourly paid staff are required to account accurately for all time worked, wherever that work is performed; over-reporting or under-reporting hours worked may result in discipline up to and including termination. As with work on-site, any overtime work performed away from MIT must be authorized in advance by a departmental supervisor. See Sec. 5.4.2, Notice and Assignment of Overtime.

Employees who seek a flexible working arrangement due to a disability should consult with Disability Services in the  Human Resources Office to discuss possible accommodations.

More information on Job Flexibility, such as eligibility, sample request forms, methods of ensuring accountability, and best practices for performing and supervising work away from MIT can be found in the MIT Job Flexibility guidelines. When planning to begin or end a Flexible Job arrangement, the DLC should discuss those plans with their Human Resources Officer; flexibility for a service staff member also requires approval from Labor Relations. Individual employees considering requesting a Flexible Job arrangement may also consult with their HRO for guidance on requesting Job Flexibility. Alternative Schedules

Supervisors are generally responsible for establishing the working hours for the employees who report to them, consistent with the practices of their DLC. In addition to approving a schedule change at the request of an employee, supervisors may need to change an employee’s schedule due to operational needs (that is, not at the employee’s request). As noted above, in cases of unilateral change by the supervisor, the supervisor is expected to give reasonable notice of such a change to the employee, to the extent feasible.

If a paid absence such as vacation or sick leave falls on a day that an employee on a flexible schedule would ordinarily be scheduled to work, the employee will be paid, through the normal process, for the number of hours he or she would have been paid had he or she not been absent, assuming he or she has sufficient vacation or sick leave time, and appropriate deductions will be made from those balances. Similarly, if a holiday or a special holiday falls on a day that an employee with a flexible schedule would ordinarily be scheduled to work, that day is generally paid as a holiday or special holiday; see Section 4.1.3, Computation of Holiday Pay (for support staff); Section 5.9, Special Holiday Closing. Off-site Work

In off-site work arrangements, some, or occasionally all, of the work is done away from the usual office or other MIT facility.  The off-site location may be the employee’s home or other suitable location that is sufficiently free from distraction that the employee can work effectively.

Off-site work may not be regularly performed while caring for a child or dependent adult or while undertaking other significant responsibilities. 

Not all jobs lend themselves to off-site work, and in some cases, only some but not all members of a group may work off-site. In most cases, employees who regularly work off-site also regularly do some work on-site, for example, working on-site for part of the work week.

If MIT is closed for an emergency, employees scheduled to work off-site in the geographic area affected by the emergency may be eligible for closing pay in accordance with Section 5.8, Emergency Closing or Early Release. Employees working off-site who are unable to work due to an emergency in their local area that does not affect the Institute (that is, when the Institute is open) are not eligible for emergency closing pay; such employees may choose to use any available vacation or personal time in order to be paid for that time.

3.1.2 Attendance and Punctuality

Dependable attendance and punctuality are expected of all employees. If problems arise relating to an employee's attendance or punctuality, the supervisor or manager should not delay in taking corrective action. (See Section 3.2, Responsibility of Supervisors and Section 3.3.3, Corrective Action.)

3.1.3 Policy Regarding the Use of Alcohol

MIT observes all laws and regulations governing the sale, purchase, and serving of alcoholic beverages by all members of its community and expects that these laws will be adhered to at all events associated with the Institute. This includes activities on the MIT campus, in MIT independent living groups, and at off-campus functions sponsored and supported by MIT or any of its affiliated groups.

The Institute does not intend through its guidelines or policies to restrict the responsible use of alcohol by members of the MIT community who are at or above the legal drinking age. Efforts, however, to observe existing laws and regulations in an environment in which the majority of the undergraduate student body is not of drinking age will almost certainly impose some constraints on those who are of age.

No alcoholic beverages may be served or consumed in any work area of the Institute at any time, except in Institute dining areas or at official Institute functions when expressly authorized by a member of the Faculty Council or the Administrative Council. All student events with alcohol must be registered through the Residence and Campus Activities Office. All non-student events with alcohol must be registered through the Conference Services Office.

Violations of this policy may be grounds for serious disciplinary action, up to and including discharge. (See Section 3.3.3 Corrective Action and Section 6.4 Discharge; see also Section 3.8, Personal Assistance Benefit.) 

3.1.4 Policy Regarding A Drug-Free Workplace at MIT

The unlawful use, manufacture, distribution, dispensation, sale, or possession of any illegal drug is prohibited in any work area of the Institute at any time. Violations of this policy may be grounds for serious disciplinary action, up to and including discharge. (See Section 3.3.3 Corrective Action and Section 6.4 Discharge.)

The use of illegal drugs in the workplace can obviously affect the work of the drug user and it can also affect those who work or study with the drug user. Problems arising from drug abuse can be successfully handled in a majority of cases, provided they are recognized in the early stages and referral is made to the appropriate resource. The Institute's Personal Assistance Benefit can provide specialized counseling and referral services to individuals who abuse drugs or alcohol. A policy statement can be found in Section 3.8 of this Manual. Individuals who are suffering from drug abuse are encouraged to seek assistance from this program. All referrals and treatment records are strictly confidential. In instances where it is necessary, sick leave will be granted for inpatient treatment or rehabilitation on the same basis as it is for other health concerns.

The federal government requires that each employee directly engaged in the performance of work under a federal grant or contract must (a) be provided with a copy of a statement describing the employer's policy; and (b) be notified that, as a condition of employment on that grant or contract, the employee will abide by the terms of the policy and will notify the employer if he or she is convicted of any criminal drug statute violation in the workplace, no later than five days after such a conviction. All individuals subject to the federal requirements should report to their employer any conviction, and the employer, in turn, is required to notify the awarding federal agencies of any convictions. Department Heads and other supervisors, in consultation with Human Resources, will have the responsibility for any disciplinary action, or for requiring offenders to participate satisfactorily in an approved drug abuse treatment program, or both.

3.1.5 Smoking Policy

Smoking is generally prohibited in all spaces of all MIT buildings. The only exceptions are private residences (e.g., housemasters' apartments and private apartments), student dormitory rooms where all occupants are smokers who have requested in writing that smoking be permitted in their room, designated rooms at Endicott House, and enclosed outdoor areas. This policy is intended to be self-enforcing, and the cooperation of all members of the MIT community is expected. Violators of this policy may be subject to serious sanctions. (See Section 3.3.3 Corrective Action and Section 6.4 Discharge.)

3.1.6 Gambling

Conducting lotteries, playing cards for money, booking bets, or any other form of gambling by employees or outsiders on Institute time or premises is not permitted. A manager or supervisor should stop any gambling he or she observes and warn the employees involved that disciplinary action may follow. The facts of any incident of gambling should be reported to the appropriate Human Resources Officer for the department. Serious offenses or repetitions of offenses are grounds for serious disciplinary action, up to and including discharge. (See Section 3.3.3 Corrective Action and Section 6.4 Discharge.)

3.1.7 Dishonesty

Dishonesty cannot be condoned and will be dealt with promptly in the following or related circumstances: stealing; lying about matters connected with work; falsifying time records; unauthorized personal use of Institute or government property; doing unauthorized private work on Institute time; and giving or receiving a bribe in any form. Dishonesty is grounds for serious disciplinary action, up to and including discharge. (See Section 3.3.3 Corrective Action and Section 6.4 Discharge.)

3.1.8 Safeguarding Cash and Personal Property

The Institute is an open community and most buildings are accessible to the public. All employees should take steps to safeguard their cash and property.

Managers or supervisors should make sure that any Institute funds are kept in a secure place on the premises.

3.1.9 Refreshments on the Job

There is no established "coffee break" policy at the Institute. Supervisors in each office or laboratory determine whether a short break in the daily routine for purposes of refreshment is appropriate. Such periods of refreshment should not interfere with or take precedence over any work of an office or laboratory.