For nearly the past two years, the global pandemic has caused significant changes in how people approach work. Due to the health risks brought by the novel coronavirus, remote working and hybrid arrangements have become the new standard. While this may be a more comfortable alternative for many, it’s hard to ignore the challenges that come with the setup.
During these times, employers and managers have to handle their remote teams strategically, including being aware of the legal complications that may arise as you shift from one setup to another. As you strategize and consult with an employment lawyer, have a look at this guide to know the possible legal issues in remote working arrangements.
Remote Working by the Numbers: Fast Facts and Statistics
1. Since the start of the pandemic, nearly half (41.8%) of the American workforce has been working remotely. (Flexjobs)
Due to the health risks of the coronavirus and to help decrease infection rates, remote work is encouraged all over the world.
2. As the country adapts better to the new normal, 74% of employees expect remote work to become standard. (Forbes)
These adjustments have become more favorable to workers for a better work-life balance during this health crisis. Because this setup has been proven to be effective, workers expect that this arrangement will be permanent.
3. Remote work conditions help workers improve their productivity by 35–40% compared to working in an office space. (FlexJobs)
Through remote work, you can reduce the number of distractions around you, which allows you to focus on your work better. At the same time, stress levels can be maintained at a minimum as you perform in a comfortable space.
4. Around 44% of workers say that they know a co-worker who wants to quit because their employer is making office work mandatory. (FlexJobs)
Several factors such as daily commute, stressful work environments, and fixed schedules can push workers to look for opportunities elsewhere because these restrict them from managing other responsibilities outside of work.
5. Flexibility is becoming a bigger demand as 97% of employees do not want to return to working in an office full time. (Forbes)
For some workers, working in an office full time may restrict their time catering to other matters in their personal lives. In other cases, the working environment provided by the employer may also cause issues with their performance.
Legal Considerations in Work from Home Setups
Companies that adopted a remote work setup are looking to stick to this arrangement permanently. If you’re planning to follow suit, here are some legal issues you may encounter while managing a remote team.
1. Hourly wages and overtime pay
Employers must inform their workers of the minimum required working hours each week. Overtime policies should also comply with established laws for fair compensation.
2. Occupational health and safety working environment
Employers must remind their staff to keep the workplace hazard-free. Disposing of sensitive materials that may cause injuries and accidents will pave the way for a safe working environment.
3. Data privacy and confidentiality concerns
Ensure that all workers understand the company’s data and privacy policies. Investing in identity and access management solutions and optimizing your layers of security will keep crippling cyberattacks at bay.
4. Disability accommodation
Employers should accommodate workers who have disabilities. These may include providing ergonomic chairs, computer tables, and accessories that should also be in a regular office setting.
5. State compensation differences
Ensure that you are aware of the different compensation laws that may affect your business. If an employee works far away from your base of operations, you may need to consider wage differences and other notable factors.
6. Benefit compliance
Whether they work from an office or at home, government-mandated benefits should still be readily available for employees. These include paid time off, health care bonuses, etc.
7. Registration records
Registering your business allows you to avoid personal liabilities and legal risks. At the same time, doing so can help you secure your brand’s reputation by providing proof of legitimacy.
8. Rest or break requirements
In between tough bouts of work, never forget to set some time for rest. With that said, lunch hours and midday breaks must be set at designated times. If timekeeping is recorded on a particular platform, make sure that the breaks also reflect there.
9. Personal employee records
Employee records, such as contact details and addresses, must be updated regularly. By doing so, managers can efficiently reach out to workers regarding any issues that need immediate attention.
Employers can use a centralized timekeeper to track working hours and time spent on specific tasks. The established procedure for this should be clearly explained to all personnel so that no issues may get in the way of calculating the proper salary.
11. Remote work infrastructure
Employers need to provide workers with the necessary tools to complete their tasks if they are not available to them. These may include computers, telephones, internet access, etc.
12. Expense reimbursement
Workers may be entitled to reimbursement by the employer under a pro-rated policy. This helps cover the necessary fees needed to make work calls, connect to mobile networks, etc.
13. Remote space policies
Working in public spaces such as cafés and public libraries may be prohibited by employers to protect data and sensitive information. Connecting to public networks may also be discouraged unless a reliable Virtual Private Network (VPN) is used to prevent hacking incidents.
Check Your List Twice
Remote working provides both employers and workers different benefits that in-office conditions cannot. As such, normalizing this option should be a favorable change for businesses all over the world. However, before you can establish an efficient and strategic remote work policy, you need to take note of the legal requirements and issues that could come up.
Consult with an employment lawyer from Shegerian and Associates to ensure that your business transitions to a remote working arrangement seamlessly.