How Telecommuting Affects Employment Law
Telecommuting increased close to 80 percent just between 2005 and 2012.
An estimated 30 million people now report working from home at least once per week. Recently, App Developer Magazine featured an interesting article on how dynamics in the workplace change. There are more people telecommuting, which changes employment law. Including how it relates to employer-employee relationships and established legal policies. In fact, there are legal benefits to having some salaried employees telecommuting instead of working out of the office. However, it’s important to realize that telecommuting does change certain legal policies for employers.
As more and more employees are working remotely; many of them are going to be accessing work networks from home computers. It is very important that if a telecommuting employee does access the network remotely that there is an established security system, This step ensures protection of company’s files and sensitive information. Including the appropriate passwords, encryption, and network firewalls. As of 2014, the average cost of a data breach reached close to $6 million.
It is also important that all telecommuting employees sign a confidentiality and/or non-disclosure agreement. This is beneficial in ensuring the maintenance of company’s privacy. And if not, there is a legal recourse to bring action against the employee and any other offending parties. In addition, many companies ensure that they establish network access for the telecommuting employee. In turn, they can retrieve files from the telecommuting employee in case anything should happen. Make sure that you are able to do this. One way is to have a policy requiring that the employee save all work to the same network device. Such as the company server. Instead of the individual computer hard drive of the personal computer they are working on.
What about Non-Exempt Employees?
While most telecommuting employees work on salary and receive exemptions from overtime, this is not always the case. If you do have non-exempt employees work from home, ensure there is a reliable way to keep track of worked hours. Also, have a policy in place beforehand that restricts the number of hours they can work in general.
Liability and Workers’ Compensation
While there are always policies pertaining to injuries in the workplace; ensure that there is a similar policy for any work-related injuries.
Interestingly, having employees work from remote locations decreases the potential for discrimination. Arguably because the employee judgment is based on work product rather than potentially discriminatory factors. However, employers need to ensure that having an employee work remotely cannot be legally interpreted as being discriminatory in and of itself. For example, the potential that the employer is specifically only having that employee telecommute because they do not want them in the office.
There have been instances where an employee claimed that failure to allow them to telecommute, at least part-time, constituted failure to provide disabled accommodation under the Americans with Disabilities Act.
Contact Experienced Employment Law Attorneys
Drummond Law, PLLC has a reputation for providing excellent legal representation to Pawnee, Osage, and Tulsa county employers.