Work From Home: Important Legal Issues to Consider

Part 2 of 3

Cathy Divodi

Employers are attempting to abruptly navigate a multitude of new financial and logistical challenges associated with the health crisis while doing what they can to maintain their business. For those with limited or no prior experience with their employees working from home, there are a few important legal issues to be aware of to mitigate potential liability.

What should employers do to regulate and track non-exempt employees working from home?

Comply with the law

Non-exempt employees who work from home are legally entitled to the same benefits provided by the CA Labor Code, Wage Orders and FLSA that they would have working at the business location. These benefits include daily and weekly overtime as well as rest and meal periods. In addition, employers are subject to the same legal compliance requirements, including documenting daily and weekly work hours and meal periods, ensuring appropriate meal and rest periods are available at the appropriate times and are not interrupted by the employer and including all the required information on the pay-stubs, such as hours worked, pay rates for regular and overtime hours, piece-meal rates, etc. 

Be crystal clear about policies and procedures

Liability nightmares await for employers that don’t establish clear policies and procedures for their employees working from home in terms of well-defined work schedules, tracking and recording work hours and meal periods and restrictions against unauthorized overt ime. It is highly recommended that employers encourage their non-exempt employees to follow a set w ork schedule, including scheduled meal periods and that the over-time policy is clearly established and communicated. 

Track and document

Employees working from home may be tempted to work some and not work some throughout the day, assuming it doesn’t matter as long as the work gets done. Employers may be tempted to send out work related e-mails outside normal business hours or schedule fun employee lunchtime Zoom meetings with the staff to keep everyone enga ged. Employers can’t ensure work isn’t being done off the clock or that employees are taking their meal breaks while employees are home, nor are they required to. However, they can make sure employees are aware no deviations from the usual procedures that apply at the office are permitted and that any known deviations are addressed as they would be at the business location. It is also critical to ensure there is an effective system in place to track work hours remotely.

Please contact any member of your G2 team with questions you have about your insurance program or regulations that apply to your specific state.

This email was created in collaboration with David Benton Nusz, Partner at Black and Rose Employment and Workers’ Compensation Defense, 18301 Von Karman Ave Ste. 300 Irvine CA 92612 / O: 949-435-4260 C: 714-313-3337

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