Creating a Work-from-Home Policy During the Coronavirus Pandemic
Stay-at-home orders in many states and quarantine measures to curb the spread of the coronavirus disease across the nation have prompted many businesses to switch to remote working.
As health officials and government agencies continue to emphasize the importance of social distancing in the COVID-19 era, an increasing number of employers across Florida create work-from-home policies for their employees.
However, creating a work-from-home policy during the coronavirus pandemic is no easy task if you had no such policy before the pandemic. There are quite a few legal implications to consider when establishing a program that allows your employees to telecommute (work from home).
5 Things to Consider When Creating a Work-from-Home Policy
When creating a work-from-home policy, your goal is to establish specific guidelines to make sure that all employees understand how to work remotely. Thus, your work-from-home policy must include the following basic elements:
- Using the proper technology and device. Depending on your employees’ duties, you need to ensure that your workers have the appropriate technology and devices when working remotely. This includes remote access to your company’s internal networks.
- Using a secure connection. Since working from home poses cybersecurity risks for your company, your employees must have a secured Wi-Fi network and use a trusted virtual private network (VPN) with end-to-end encryption. When using a trusted VPN, any files or data your employee transmits is encrypted to protect it from potential interception to prevent fraud (e.g., online payment fraud).
- Implementing applicable communications programs. You need to be able to manage your workers remotely via communications services such as Skype, Slack, Zoom, Skype, and other programs. It is imperative to keep in contact with your remote employees via messaging, email, and phone to ensure that they do not feel isolated from the company.
- Giving clear guidance. When creating a work-from-home policy during the pandemic, you need to set specific expectations and give your employees clear guidance. In other words, the policy needs to include easy-to-follow instructions for employees’ daily work schedules, risk protection provisions, as well as your company’s payment structure and overtime policy.
- Trusting your employees. Since remote working comes with a lack of supervision, employers need to have trust in their employees to ensure that they stay productive and motivated when telecommuting during the pandemic.
How to Pay Your Work-from-Home Employees During the Coronavirus Pandemic?
“How are remote workers paid when telecommuting?” is the question commonly asked by employers switching to remote working in the coronavirus era. It is critical to consider the payment and salaries of your remote employees when creating a work-from-home policy.
- Employers must consider the following wage and hour requirements under the federal Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA):
- Salaried exempt employees must receive their full salary when working remotely. The only exception is if the employer’s business is temporarily closed and the employee performs no work whatsoever during the workweek.
- Working from home may cause exempt employees to perform duties that are not exempt from overtime under federal law.
- While the law does provide a certain amount of freedom for exempt employees to perform some non-exempt work during emergencies, their employer must limit such non-exempt duties. Otherwise, the employer may risk losing the exemption.
Both the federal and state employment law in Florida requires employers to pay hourly non-exempt employees for hours worked, including any overtime hours. Thus, it is critical to set up accurate methods for tracking how many hours your hourly employees actually work. Contact a West Palm Beach employment law attorney to create a work-from-home policy correctly and consider all potential legal implications. Contact 561-291-8298 to receive a consultation.