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  • Going Remote: Considerations Employers Should Make When Transitioning to a New Work Model

    In our new world created by the COVID pandemic, many small businesses are considering whether to continue to allow at least some employees to work full-time remote, or adopt a hybrid version. Under the hybrid version, employees may be allowed to work from home either a fixed number of days per week, or certain days designated by the company. Most companies are identifying days that all employees need to be in the office, for company meetings and other in person discussions. If you are evaluating implementing this, there are some important things to consider.

    California’s labor code requires that employers reimburse employees for all expenses incurred in the performance of their work. That means for employees who work remote, you need to be sure you are either providing the necessary equipment and materials or reimbursing for those. This can include:

     
    • Computers, printers and other equipment
    • Internet usage
    • Cell phone usage
    • Paper, pencils, and other usual desk items
    ​When you have a hybrid remote policy, your obligation for reimbursement may change since you are not obligated to duplicate expenses by providing a computer and other equipment when an employee elects to work from home. However, you do need to reimburse for internet and cell phone use and desk items. It’s important to include in your hybrid remote policy any conditions of that work, including that the employee must have sufficient internet and phone capability to work effectively away from the office.

    Wage & hour rules still apply when employees are working remote. That means you need to provide rest and meal periods, and ensure you comply with daily overtime for non-exempt employees. If you don’t have an effective way to monitor time for remote employees, you should consider an electronic timekeeping system so employees can log in wherever they are located to help ensure accurate time records.

    You will also want to determine how you will monitor employee productivity and performance. Since you are not able to as easily observe employees’ activity when remote, you need to be able to ensure work is being done and your employees are engaged during paid work hours. Communication with employees is always important but heightened with full or hybrid remote employees. They need to feel connected with their team and company, just as much as you need them engaged.

    Lastly, you should contact your broker to be sure your employee locations are added to your workers’ compensation and general liability insurance policies.

    Article provided by Sandra Dickerson, CEO, Your People Professionals.