The latest research is clear—remote work is on the rise. A full 30% of full-time American workers are also full-time remote workers, eschewing a traditional workplace for alternate arrangements, whether a home office, co-working space or coffeeshop. An additional 32% of full-time employees work remotely, albeit less frequently. According to the research:
- 7% work remotely at least 3x a week.
- 11% work remotely at least once per week.
- 6% work remotely at least once a month.
- 8% work remotely less than once a month.
And these numbers are only expected to surge, as employees and employers realize there are multiple benefits associated with teleworking. Employers can reduce overhead expenses and have access to a broader talent pool. Employees count flexibility and a reduction in commute time among the benefits of working remotely.
But there are also challenges. For example, when an employee works remotely, how do you track overtime? How do you fulfill workplace notice requirements? Are you liable for an at-home safety issue? We turned to Michelle Thompson, XMI’s vice president of human resources, for answers to these and other questions about labor laws for remote workers.
Whose labor laws apply to remote workers?
No matter where your company is located, the labor laws of the state where the employee works apply. That could mean different regulations for payroll, workers’ comp, posting requirements and immigration, to name a few areas that could be impacted. To be certain that your company is following all the right labor laws, Thompson recommends consulting with a trusted HR expert who has experience navigating labor laws for multi-state workforces.
Do you need to send workplace posters to remote workers?
In short, yes. But if you’re picturing a poster tube in the mail, you’ve got the wrong idea. Electronic delivery of required workplace posters and ensuring your remote workers have access to required posters (such as on your company’s intranet) fulfills your obligation as employer. “Hang on to your email receipts, and make sure you provide communication to remote workers when posters are updated,” suggests Thompson.
This applies to any remote worker who works in the office fewer than three times a month.
What workplace policies apply to remote workers?
Ideally, all of them. Review your employee handbook with an eye toward remote workers and clarify anything that could be misunderstood. Thompson also recommends establishing remote work-specific policies and adding those to the handbook.
“While you think it would be common knowledge that remote workers would be available during their regularly scheduled work hours and meeting performance expectations, you also don’t want to be in a situation as an employer where someone has assumed otherwise,” she says.
Likewise, a remote work policy should also detail minimum requirements, such as forwarding your office phone to another phone and having secure internet access.
“If they don’t have those in place or even if someone is having trouble logging in to the company server remotely, it’s best to spell out that they need to come into the office,” she says.
What about non-exempt workers who work remotely?
While Thompson says employers are generally tuned into the various labor laws for remote workers, there is one area of improvement—wage and hour requirements for non-exempt workers who work remotely. Because they’re non-exempt, these employees must keep track of hours worked and take required breaks. This is where a robust, cloud-based HRIS can come in handy, since the remote worker can easily clock in and out from their own web-based portal.
Make it a company policy that non-exempt workers have to clock in whenever they do work remotely—even if it’s just to check email on a Sunday to get a head start on Monday.
In addition to labor laws for remote workers, there are many other HR considerations for this new and growing workforce. Be on the lookout for a future post on cultivating culture and engagement among remote workers.