How to (legally) adapt to work-from-home arrangements

February 12, 2021

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).

 

Young woman in overalls on work from home arrangements, wearing glasses looking at a laptop computer. She has a cup of coffee.

 

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!

Disclaimer

The materials available at this website are for informational purposes only and not for the purpose of providing legal advice. You should contact your attorney to obtain advice with respect to any particular issue or problem. Use of and access to this website or any of the e-mail links contained within the site do not create an attorney-client relationship between CGL and the user or browser. The opinions expressed at or through this site are the opinions of the individual author and may not reflect the opinions of the firm or any individual attorney.

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