55% of US office workers say they would prefer to work remotely at least three days a week going forward. For companies looking to offer work-from-home (WFH) arrangements beyond the pandemic, more permanent policies and processes will need to be implemented to effectively and legally cater to a (partially) remote workforce.
Here are three things you should consider if you’re looking to offer WFH arrangements after the pandemic restrictions ease:
You Need to Update Your Work-From-Home Policy
Whether or not you currently have a telecommuting policy in place, your policies likely need updating for more permanent WFH arrangements. A telecommuting policy should detail:
- Who is eligible to work from home.
- How often employees can work from home.
- When they may work from home.
- The process for requesting work-from-home privileges.
- How employees should communicate effectively while working from home.
- Tracking of all hours for non-exempt employees including meal periods and overtime. This obligation is particularly laborious, especially where the employees live in California. You should confer with an employment attorney in this regard.
- Reimbursement for expenses (including which expenses will be covered).
- Expectations regarding the quantity and quality of work.
- Expected Work hours.
- Company has the right to inspect your home office for workers’ compensation purposes.
- Cybersecurity and data privacy protocols.
You Need Technology Infrastructure Designed for WFH
While many companies implemented ‘good enough’ solutions to span the duration of the pandemic, you’ll need to integrate permanent WFH into your technology planning if you want to be future-ready. (Here’s where to start).
Working Out Workers’ Compensation
Unfortunately, workers’ compensation laws do not reflect the realities of work-from-home arrangements. Your employees are eligible for workers’ compensation whenever they’re on the clock, even if injuries occur in their own home. It is difficult for employers to routinely inspect home offices despite a requirement to maintain a safe workplace. At a minimum, you should implement a health and safety policy that:
- Sets a minimum standard for home offices (including desk height, etc.)
- Mandates employee safety training.
- Details employee reporting obligations.
- Includes a health and safety checklist providing details of recognized hazards that your employees need to complete and keep up to date.
You should also reach out to your worker’s compensation insurer for guidance in navigating health and safety issues associated with WFH arrangements.
If you need assistance creating or updating your WFH policies, get in touch. We’re here to help!
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