How To Set Up A Telecommuting Policy and Simultaneously Limit Wage and Overtime Claims
|Prepared By: Melissa C. Marsh, Los Angeles Employment Attorney
Written: March 2009
While most employees travel to their employer's facilities to work, evolving information technologies are enabling more and more people to work effectively from home. Although telecommuting has a number of important benefits to employers, employees, and society in general, there are pitfalls and traps as well. Employers should carefully consider the advantages, disadvantages and risks before implementing a telecommuting policy or program.
Advantages to Implementing a Telecommuting Policy.
A well thought out telecommunting policy can: (1) Increase Productivity; (2) Reduce Overhead; (3) Improve Recruitment and Retention of the best qualified workers; (4) Decrease Absenteeism and (5) Reduce Payroll Costs or the costs associated with Reimbursement of the employee's work related expenses.
Disadvantages to Implementing a Telecommuting Policy.
The two most common problems that employers face with employees who telecommute are: (1) monitoring performance to ensure the employee is actually working and (2) potential liability issues.
Determining if a Telecommuting Policy Will Work For Your Business.
Telecommuting is not appropriate for every industry or employee. Although telecommuting is not appropriate for workers engaged in blue collar work such as construction, it can work for employees whose work can be completed in a home office environment and whose work product can be measured and completed with little or no supervision. Today it is common for many computer professionals, accounting professionals, and even employees with a strong work ethic who perform mundane data processing activities to work from home. As long as the employer can measure the employee's work product, the employer can be relatively certain that the employee is performing his or her duties.
Implementing a Telecommuting Policy.
If an employer is considering implementing a telecommuting policy, the employer must decide: (1) which employees will be allowed to telecommute; (2) how many days a week each selected employee will be allowed to telecommute; and (3) how the employer will monitor the employee and measure the employee's performance.
Once these determinations have been made, the employer would be wise to set forth either an employee telecommuting policy, or a written agreement between the employer and the employee regarding the employee's rights and responsibilities when working from home. The policy and/or agreement should set forth such things as: the number of hours to be worked, how the employee is to record or log his or her hours, that the employee must be logged into company's network and able to respond to email, and/or have the ability to immediately answer the phone except during the employee's required 30 minute meal period, etc…
A large part of our employment law practice consists of counseling employers who seek to comply with new state and federal employment laws, including the prevention of sexual harassment claims, discrimination claims, workers compensation, and general wage, hour and overtime regulations. To schedule a consultation about preparing an employee manual or handbook, revising existing employee policies, or human resource training, call 818-849-5206 or Email Us.
California employment lawyer, Melissa C. Marsh, is based in Sherman Oaks and West Hollywood, and serves individuals and businesses throughout Los Angeles County, including: West Hollywood, Miracle Mile, Beverly Hills, Century City, Santa Monica, Burbank, North Hollywood, Valley Village, Toluca Lake, Studio City, Sherman Oaks, Van Nuys, Encino, and Woodland Hills.
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