Legal Risks to Weigh Before Making Telework Permanent

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With workplaces across the nation reopening for business, many employers are evaluating whether temporary telecommuting policies can work in the long term for some employees. There are many reasons why telecommuting may be a desired option at this time, such as enabling busy workplaces to enact social distancing rules by keeping a portion of the workforce home, helping working parents meet childcare obligations, and providing an accommodation to employees who still cannot return to the workplace because of health concerns.

For employers that offered telework as a temporary option in the earlier phases of the COVID-19 pandemic, now is the time to evaluate whether a formal remote working policy is a good fit going forward. While offering telecommuting options may have business advantages such as being a recruiting tool, lowering facility and travel expenses, and boosting morale, there are also legal risks to consider.

Wage and Hour Issues

You must keep minimum wage and overtime issues in mind, and if you offer telecommuting as an option to nonexempt workers, you must consider how to track their working time. As a general rule, you must pay employees for all hours worked under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA)—even work that wasn’t requested.

Telecommuting employees who are assigned specific work schedules and advised not to work in excess of the scheduled hours are still entitled to payment for work performed if the employer “knows or has reason to believe that the work is being performed.” To mitigate this risk, you must require nonexempt employees to contemporaneously track and record their hours worked and submit them on a regular basis, such as daily or hourly.

This risk doesn’t apply to exempt employees because they are paid the same weekly salary regardless of hours worked. You will generally want to ensure, however, that exempt employees are staying productive while away from the office and may want to track hours worked for this purpose.

On the other hand, employees who work from home report increased productivity working away from the office—devoid of distractions such as inefficient meetings, office gossip, or loud office spaces.

You may decide that challenges with productivity and time tracking mean some positions are suitable for working from home and others are not. Read more here…

The post Legal Risks to Weigh Before Making Telework Permanent appeared first on HR Daily Advisor.

Source: HR Daily Advisor

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