We recognize that there are limitations to our ability to replicate at home the equipment and services employees would otherwise have access to while working at university work locations. We want to remind employees of both the policies that govern and the resources that are available to help employees reasonably provide for work to be undertaken at home.
The following guidelines for working from home are in place to ensure USask employees have access to the necessary equipment and supplies they need while adhering to the existing reimbursement and eligible expense polices.
Use of university equipment at home
Individual home workspaces will present logistical challenges and other limitations that may restrict what items can be retrieved from university workspaces.
One-Time Access Requests to Retrieve Technology, Equipment or Office Furniture
For university equipment (computer equipment or transportable furniture) that is available from the employee’s university workspace and is required to work at home, employees are advised to complete the Declaration of Property Used Off-Campus form. Once the items have been approved for removal, the supervisor and employee can complete the online Campus Access Request Form to arrange access to campus and the retrieval of the necessary items to their remote work location.
- The equipment requested must be critical to performing work duties safely and effectively at their remote work location.
- The employee must be able to safely move and/or install the equipment within their remote work location, without the direct assistance of university personnel who may have delivered the equipment.
- If employees experience difficulty setting up a computer in their home, they can refer to Working Remotely or contact the IT Support Services through a General IT Request in PAWS or by calling (306) 966-2222.
- All university equipment brought into their home must be returned to the university at such time the university resumes normal onsite operations.
Reimbursement and eligible expenses
Purchase of IT equipment and furniture through approved procurement channels
Guidelines for purchasing items for working from home:
- Contact IT Acquisitions for all technology and accessories.
- If new software is required on a USask-managed Windows device, download through Software Centre.
- If new software is required on a home computer, employees should contact IT Support Services prior to purchasing or installing the software. The university retains licensing agreements for a wide range of vendors and individual software products, already fully paid for or with preferred pricing.
Microsoft Office 365 is available for eligible USask employees to download to personal home computers for free, details including instructions can be found here. Software purchased independently, without ICT authorization, will not be reimbursed and is not authorized to be purchased on a PCard.
- Information and resources relating to ergonomic equipment for working remotely is available.
- Employees requiring equipment that is not retrievable from their university workspace are advised to contact Safety Resources to identify what their needs are. A trained ergonomic advisor will consult with them on what physical arrangements are optimal and reasonably obtained for their needs. Supervisor/Departmental approval will be required for ergonomic equipment purchases. Some colleges/units may have surplus ergonomic equipment available for use.
- For day-to-day office supplies (e.g. paper, pens, printer toner), employees can contact Supreme Office Products. The university has established contracts that provide meaningful discounts and/or rebates to the university. In most cases, office supplies can be delivered directly to the employees’ homes. To arrange home delivery, Supreme Basics has advised to simply add contact and address details in the notes section of each order. Charges are billed to their CFOAPAL via a PCard. If they require supplies and do not have access to a PCard or departmental supports, they can contact ConnectionPoint for assistance.
- Employees needing any other furniture are advised to contact Facilities Support Services.
Amended IT Eligible Items
Information Technology has expanded the list of eligible items to include laptops, computers and printers as long as they are a deemed eligible item on the requested CFOAPAL and has supervisory approval.
Please note these items are to be utilized in a home office setting solely and not returned to campus until they reach the end of their useful life or the purchaser leaves USask. With the exception of computer devices (laptops, desktops) which can be used on campus as required during the life of the device.
For additional information regarding reimbursement eligibility and process:
There could potentially be other items, that employees may need to work from home but are either not critical to their day-to-day work or would bring substantial personal benefit in addition to being used for work. These kinds of expenditures are not eligible for reimbursement from the university, but some financial relief may still be able to be realized for those purchases.
The university has amended the eligibility criteria for the Accountable Professional Expense Fund (APEF), Accountable Professional Development Account (ADPA) and Dean’s and Senior Administrator’s Expense (DSAE) funds to allow eligible employees (ASPA, Exempt, Senior Administration), on a one-time basis, to request up to the equivalent of one year’s allocation from their APEF or DSAE fund to help subsidize costs associated with establishing a remote workspace.
The Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) has simplified the process for claiming work from home expenses due to the COVID-19 pandemic. CRA is offering a temporary flat rate method that simplifies the process for claiming expenses (see CRA infographic). With this method, you do not have to determine expenses incurred and do not require any supporting documentation from the university.
The new temporary flat rate method simplifies your claim for home office expenses. You are eligible to use this new method if you worked more than 50% of the time from home for a period of at least four consecutive weeks in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic. You can claim $2 for each day you worked from home during that period plus any additional days you worked at home in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The maximum you can claim using the new temporary flat rate method is $400 (200 working days) per individual.
If you wish to track and claim work-space-in-the-home expenses, you will need to follow the detailed method and will also require a Form T2200S from the university to support that claim. T2200S forms will be issued to most employees, based on requirement for employees to work from home starting in March 2020. These forms will be available for self-service in PAWS.
CRA has provided a helpful guide on home office expenses including the claim methods, eligible expenses, expense calculators, and the claim process. Since every individual’s tax situation is different, you should consult the CRA guidance or a tax professional to assist with your situation.
We encourage you to explore options while preparing your 2020 Income Tax return. Information can be found on the Government of Canada website, including changes to taxes and benefits specific to Covid-19.