Two and half years ago, employers in many industries were suddenly thrust into a remote work experiment with their employees. While it highlighted areas of deficit within many organizations’ emergency response plans, employers quickly worked through these issues making remote work not only work, but an invaluable benefit to their employees.
With demand for remote work present before the pandemic, along with the continued employee desire to have the flexibility to work from home, it’s clear remote work is here to stay. In fact, spring 2022 research conducted by McKinsey found the majority of employers continue to offer remote work with 58% of US employees having the opportunity to work remotely at least one day each week and 35% for the full five-day workweek.
As a likely permanent feature of the American workplace, it is important to fully understand remote work compliance to ensure you are providing the best experience for your employees and not putting your business at risk. Whether you have employees working remotely one day a week or five, these key areas of remote work compliance should be top of mind.
Four Remote Work Compliance Concerns Facing Employers
1. Accurate Timekeeping
With many employees working from home, timekeeping can be tricky for employers. It’s very important, however, to continue to keep track of your employees’ hours, especially if workers are classified as nonexempt under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA). Nonexempt workers are those who legally must be paid overtime wages for all hours worked in excess of 40 hours per week, at a rate of no less than time-and-a-half. States may also have overtime laws that are more comprehensive than FLSA standards.
To help guarantee accurate timekeeping for remote nonexempt workers, you might consider one of the many electronic timekeeping programs available; these programs will allow your employees to clock in and out remotely and ensure they’re paid appropriately for all hours worked.
Does your remote work policy require your employees to live in the state in which you are headquartered? While having flexibility of residence is a great benefit to many remote workers, employers need to be cognizant of the state of residence of all employees to ensure legal compliance. Many laws governing employee pay, taxation, timekeeping, health benefits and more can vary significantly from state to state; this means if an employee has relocated to another state, or is planning to relocate, they could be entitled to a wage increase, additional overtime or other benefits not currently offered by your organization. Employment laws by state change frequently, so keeping yourself educated and up-to-date on the requirements of each state where you employ workers is essential.
Many employers are aware of workplace environmental hazards, safety restrictions and other requirements mandated by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). What some employers don’t know, however, is that they must also ensure their remote workers have a safe environment in which to work.
Remote employees should be educated on proper safety protocols when working from home, including trip hazards and fire safety. A great way to ensure safety compliance for your remote workers is to provide a virtual workplace safety seminar, created specifically for employees who work from home. Regardless of work location, employers should always document all work-related injuries, illnesses and complaints from employees.
4. Information Technology Security Protocols
Information technology security should be a concern for all businesses, whether their employees are in-person or remote. If your employees are working outside the office, however, they may need additional tools and support to keep your company’s information secure. Providing company computers or devices is almost always safer than an employee’s equipment. Antivirus and other IT safety software can be programmed on these devices to ensure that malware attempts are blocked.
Employees should also be careful to avoid public Wi-Fi. When possible, it is best to advise employees to stick to their home office when working remotely. If this is not possible, or an employee is traveling for work, your company should provide a safe Virtual Private Network (VPN) for them to use.
Many employees are unaware of the potential for company information and client data to be hacked or stolen through networks that are not secure. Employees who wish to work from home, even occasionally, should be provided with training and resources to make sure your company and its clients don’t become victims of a data breach.
PEOs Help Employers Navigate Remote Work Compliance
Is your company struggling with the world of remote work? From compliance to productivity, onboarding and training, successfully navigating the modern workplace can be a heavy burden for even the savviest business owners. Here at Axcet HR Solutions, our team of HR, payroll, employee benefits and workers’ compensation experts have been providing a full suite of PEO services to small and medium-sized businesses for nearly 35 years. Schedule a conversation with us today.