Workplace Compliance Considerations for Remote Employees

The Coronavirus pandemic has reached to the point where it is not only disrupting businesses and commercial activities but also is threatening employees’ health at home. As such, now is the time to process an extensive remote workplace plan by companies and organizations and see that workplace compliances laws are met. As Coronavirus cases are rising day by day, the employers are obligated to allow employees to work from home and extend services as well as to oversee legal requirements protecting workers and employees.

Until a few weeks back, the concept and practice of remote work were growing but still was a limited part of the workforce. Within the past three weeks with Coronavirus creating havoc around the globe, companies have switched to restructuring workplaces, with their emphasis on remote work. And each day, more and more firms are joining the remote working bandwagon. However, it is too early to conclude whether the current situation will lead to an increase in remote work regularly. Though many new remote workers state they miss the humdrum, social connections, and collaboration of the congregate workplace, many are also celebrating the absence of a hectic commute and travel-required meetings outside the office.

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Remote Teams and Workplace Compliance Issues 

With the growing work from home situations, employers and organizations should be aware of the efficient practices of remote work, operational as well as legal. Working from home does not exempt employers or the employees from the safety, wage and hour, and other employment requirements of a regular workplace. Some of the workplace compliances to follow effectively during the work from home situation include –

Payment

In a proper firm, as per employment laws, the main distinction is seen in payment obligations between regular and contracted workers. A similar difference applies to remote workers. The daily workers should be paid in full for any week in which they conduct tasks remotely. Contracted employees are to be paid only for the time they took to cover the duties, be it a full or a partial day. Employers should implement a remote work plan where they can set a schedule to track working hours. This will help them to avoid any overtime claims which might arise from unstructured remote work. Tracking of hours can be done through different means, like a log-in and log-out process. However, monitoring of working hours, when it comes to employment relations, rests solely on trust.

Safe and Secure Work Environment

Under federal and state safety laws, employers and organizations are bound to provide a safe and secure work environment for workers. This applies to remote work too. It is just an extension to the regular workforce for safety requirements. As it is not feasible for each organization to visit the homes of the employees and inspect the environment, they can address safety in their remote work plan. This will make the employees aware of safety requirements. The employers also need to mention clearly to the employees to report any injuries during work-time to the company so that it can file a claim with the workers’ compensation carrier.

Additional Costs during Remote Work

Employers should also avoid unexpected claims from workers at home who purchase other equipment (related to work) to carry out office work from home. For that, employers should make it clear initially that any additional equipment or services charges required by the employee need to be approved by a supervisor.

Maintaining Information Security

Work from home can lead to a breach of information security with its use. As such, employers and organizations need to take specific actions to avoid infringement. Like, they can make it necessary for employees to log in and out when they are not using their system to prevent any misuse by any family member of the employee while the computer is on.

There is no fool-proof method to prevent misuse of time, be it in the regular workplace or remote working situations. An employer should stress and implement the workplace compliances mentioned above to their workers, but not in a tone of suspicion or anger. In the time of crisis, when the world is switching to the work from home situation, employers should focus on employees who do the right thing and give time as well as perspective to look forward to a bigger-picture continuation of the business.

Priyansha Mistry
Priyansha Mistry
Currently editor at The HR Digest Magazine. She helps HR professionals identify issues with their talent management and employment law. | Priyansha tweets at @PriyanshaMistry

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