In 2020, many businesses shafted to remote work arrangements hoping that these measures would only last a few months. Over two years later, it is clear that remote work is becoming the new normal for many businesses. As remote work has taken hold, the legal ramifications of managing a remote workforce have become points of conversation. This article seeks to explore and explain some legal considerations business and HR managers have to keep in mind when they switch to remote work models.
Wage and Work Hour Considerations
Employers must ensure there is enough monitoring for hours worked and how much employers need to be paid. The real issue with remote work is that it is very difficult for employers to record the time employers take doing work-related tasks while they are not on the clock. For example, an employer might have a hard time monitoring the amount of time an employer takes reading and responding to emails past office hours.
While this technically counts as overtime work, how does one go about monitoring and validating this? Self-reporting is not an option because some people can abuse it. An agreed way of dealing with these issues is mandating that employees only work during certain hours or for a set number of hours per day or week.
Remote work gives employees the ability to hire from a much larger global pool of talent. While this can benefit the business a lot, it also comes with some legal issues. Every country and jurisdiction has different laws surrounding work, payments, taxation, and so on. This is in addition to other work laws such as those that govern work environments.
Employers must think of these implications and do their best to educate managers, so they know how to adhere to the different sets of rules and laws their employees are governed by.
Many employees who are working from home have to pay for many of the things the company would have provided otherwise. These include common items such as chairs, desks, monitors, paper, printers, and pens.
Many of these costs need to be reimbursed depending on the jurisdiction. This reimbursement can be for anything the employee needs to continue working. For example, an employee who is looking for a laptop for their work can get a business or student laptop from Lenovo so they can use it to create daily reports or continue managing their employer’s social media profiles. The employer might be required to reimburse them for it, in addition to other supplies such as a phone, their internet, and a portion of their utility bill.
In areas where there are no clear guidelines on reimbursement, employers would do well to ensure the cost of what employers need to keep working is not so high that they end up earning less than minimum wage.
Remote work is a great option for both employees and employers. However, it comes with some legal considerations for employers who must think about how the laws that are applicable in their employee’s jurisdictions affect them.