Flexible workplace policies, such as allowing employees to work from home are becoming increasingly popular. Work from home arrangements can create efficiencies by eliminating commute time and reduce overhead cost by reducing the amount of physical office space needed. Employees also usually prefer the arrangement. Here are a few traps and tips for employers to consider when implementing a telecommuting policy:
- For non-exempt workers telecommuting can be especially risky. When employees are working from home it can be difficult to track hours and meal and rest break compliance. Make sure that you have good policies and practices for ensuring compliance with all wage and hour laws for remote non-exempt employees.
- For all workers, the employer could be responsible for safety hazards even though it doesn't have the ability to control the work area. Injuries that arise out of the job and in the course of the job are compensable under the workers' compensation system, regardless of location. It's impossible to entirely control a remote worker's work area, but you can have policies aimed at minimizing the likelihood of workplace injuries.
- Employers also need to consider how home office expenses will be managed. Employers are required to pay for expenses that are necessary to do the job, which will likely include most home office expenses.
- If the employer is concerned about the security of its information, it should ensure that the technology used by the remote employee is protected by robust security.
Finally, allowing an employee to temporarily telecommute may be a reasonable accommodation for a disability, so employers should not deny requests to telecommute simply as a matter of policy. Remember, engage in an interactive process whenever an employee requests an accommodation for a disability.