Key considerations for a remote workforce
Compliance | Feb 25, 2021
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Since the beginning of the Covid-19 pandemic, working from home has become many employee’s “new normal.” While this was originally a temporary arrangement, many employers and employees are seeing the benefits of remote work.
Because of this, many companies are looking to make remote workers a permanent fixture for their staff in the post-pandemic world. Despite the benefits, permitting your employees to work from home also introduces some risk and added complexity.
Here are six things you should be aware of:
It is critical that you keep accurate records regarding the time your employees work, including those at home.
By utilizing an electronic timekeeping solution, you gain a vital tool that can help your company remain compliant with wage and hour laws. With a simple solution that enables your employees to clock in/out from their desktop or mobile device, you can keep more accurate records of the hours worked.
In event that the employer/employee relationship sours, having accurate timekeeping records can help if the employee makes a complaint regarding unpaid wages.
It is possible that by having your employees working from home, you become obligated to comply with different payroll-related regulations.
For example, when it comes to minimum wage, the employee should be paid based on where they physically work, whether that be their home or another office. Different states and localities may have varying minimum wages. Typically, when there are conflicting laws or regulations, you should follow the one most favorable to the employee.
Much like the minimum wage, taxes are paid based on the employee’s physical location where the work is being performed.
If an employee lives in a neighboring state, you may be required to withhold taxes based on that state’s regulations. However, be aware that certain states have reciprocity agreements in place for situations where an employee lives in one state but works in the other.
Due to the complexities involved, you should consult with your financial advisor given your specific circumstances.
Several federal, state, and local laws require employers to post notices and other workplace posters in a public space.
Yes, these still apply even if an employee is working from home.
While this may seem absurd, keep in mind that many of these laws were passed before the internet. Sending electronic copies to your employees may satisfy some of these posting requirements. However, you should check your applicable laws to see if this is sufficient. If not, mail the relevant posters to your employees.
Keep in mind that you must send the applicable state posters based on where the employee is physically working from. If an employee is working from home and lives in another state than where your office is based, then you must send the posters relevant to the employee’s home state.
Once an employee receives the posters, they can choose what to do with them in their home.
Some states require employers to offer meals or breaks throughout the workday. These laws still apply, even if an employee is working from their couch.
The Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) does not explicitly require breaks. However, the FLSA does stipulate that a rest break of 20 minutes or less must be paid. In addition, for a meal period to be unpaid, it must be at least 30 minutes. Be aware that states may have different regulations regarding breaks.
By taking advantage of an electronic timekeeping solution, you can better keep track of when remote employees are taking their breaks and for how long.
As with most laws on this list, having remote workers does not disqualify an employer from the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).
A remote worker can make a request under the ADA for a reasonable accommodation so that the employee can perform an essential part of their job. You would consider this request just as any other; the fact the employee is working from home does not change the employer’s obligation.
Always consult with your financial and/or legal advisors about your own circumstances.
Many state and federal laws were written before the internet and the work-from-home trend. While adhering to some of these regulations may seem strange, that does not change the employer’s obligation.
Before allowing any employee to work remotely, you should communicate with your staff to let them know what the company’s official policies and expectations are when it comes to remote work.
Disclaimer: This post is merely informational. It does not constitute financial or legal advice. Always check with your own financial and/or legal advisors regarding the circumstances surrounding your business.