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Employees Working From Home – How Should Company’s React?


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Executive Summary

With the country reopening due to the lessening of COVID-related
restrictions, companies and employees are returning to a new
“normal.” Remote working has become a recruiting tool for
some companies. For other companies which have required employees
to return to the office, the failure to continue to allow some form
of remote working (“hybrid model”) has been frustrating
for many employees. Although many managers have been surprised to
see that employees’ productivity has not suffered when they
have worked from home, many companies still firmly believe that
they should require employees to work at the company’s
office(s). Regardless of a company’s philosophy regarding
remote work, companies that provide some form of remote work should
draft and distribute appropriate policies and have employees sign
telecommuting agreements to establish the company’s
expectations and working rules. 

Below is a checklist of provisions these policies and agreements
should include:

  • Purpose of the Policy, including the
    company’s goals, the employees’ needs and desires, which
    positions are permanent telecommuting positions, that telecommuting
    may be temporary or a reasonable accommodation to a disability in
    compliance with federal and state anti-discrimination laws, and
    that telecommuting must not have a negative impact on an
    employee’s productivity or adversely affect the efficient
    operations of the company or other employees.

  • Management’s Discretion, including
    management’s right to create and approve telecommuting
    arrangements and require an employee to work at the company’s
    office(s).

  • Eligibility, including, for example, the
    existence of  adequate and suitable work available for the
    employee to perform at home, that the work involves the completion
    of measurable tasks, whether the employee has maintained a work
    record consistent with the ability to work independently, and that
    telecommuting is not for child or elder care.

  • Procedures, including requiring employees to
    sign a telecommuting agreement that lists the requirements to
    continue the telecommuting arrangement, a trial period, a
    re-evaluation of the arrangement, the ways in which the employee
    will be held accountable, and management’s right to terminate
    the arrangement.

  • Workspace, including the requirement of a
    dedicated workspace with a list of equipment and supplies necessary
    to perform the employee’s responsibilities and duties, all in
    compliance with federal and state health and safety
    regulations.

  • Equipment and Supplies, including a list of
    the equipment and supplies the company will provide to the employee
    and the equipment and supplies for which the employee is
    responsible, whether the company or employee is responsible for
    damage to equipment, and that the company-provided equipment
    remains the company’s property and must be returned to the
    company at the end of the telecommuting arrangement.

  • Security, including procedures and rules to
    secure and prevent the hacking of computer and other electronic
    systems, and that employees should not have any expectation of
    privacy in the use of the company’s electronic communication
    systems, the company retaining its right to monitor the
    employee’s use of such systems.

  • Expense Reimbursement, including whether the
    employee or company is financially responsible for the initial
    set-up of the home office, its remodeling, maintenance, cleaning or
    repair, and the company’s compliance with those state laws
    requiring the reimbursement of necessary expenses incurred by the
    employee.

  • Working Hours, including a list the
    employee’s working hours, that non-exempt employees must record
    their working hours in compliance with federal and state wage and
    hour laws, and that the employee should be available during the
    company’s core business hours and by telephone and
    electronically to other employees and their managers.

  • Accountability, including the role of managers
    and the methods of ensuring communications and productivity.

  • Compliance with Work Rules, including
    compliance with the company’s anti-harassment and anti-bullying
    policies and the use of sick, vacation and other leaves.

  • Protection of Intellectual Property, including
    the employee’s obligation to protect the company’s
    proprietary and confidential information, trade secrets, and
    policies and agreements regarding inventions, works for hire,
    non-competition and non-solicitation.

  • Taxes and Insurance, including who is and is
    not responsible for the tax consequences of telecommuting and
    whether workers’ compensation, homeowners’ and other
    insurance policies are impacted.

By planning, creating, and implementing sound policies and an
enforceable telecommuting agreement, companies will be better able
to manage telecommuting arrangements that are in the best interests
of both the employees and the company.

The content of this article is intended to provide a general
guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought
about your specific circumstances.

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