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