- Parental Leave
- Pay Disparity
- Religious accomodation in the workplace
- Equal pay and prior salary information
- I quit! How to avoid constructive discharge
- You Can't Shred Email
- Navigating Unemployment Claims
- Considering Criminal History in Pre-Employment Decisions
- Defamation Claims from Former Employees
- Mixed Motive Causation
- Requesting Accomodation: Kowitz v. Trinity Health
- Antitrust Law in Human Resources
- An Evolving Standard: Joint-Employment
- What Does At-Will Employment Mean for Employers?
- Let's Talk About Wages
- THE FLSA: CHANGES ARE COMING
- Follow Up: Obesity and the ADA
- The Importance of Social Media Policies
- Is Obesity a Qualifying Disability under the ADA?
- Retaliation on the Rise: The EEOC Responds
- What Motivates You?
- "But I thought ...
- Who’s expecting? And what is he expecting?
- Are You Still Doing Annual Performance Reviews?
- Who is Your Employee?
- The unpaid intern trap Part II
- “We’ve been the victim of a cyber-attack”
- So, a Hasidic Jew, a nun in a habit and a woman wearing a headscarf walk into your office?
- The unpaid intern trap
- Pregnancy in the workplace
- Let's talk about honesty.
- "Did You Know" Series - Part I
- Conducting an Internal Investigation
- What HR can look forward to in 2015!
- The chokehold of workplace technology
- Does your company have trade secrets?
- North Dakota Construction Law Compendium for 2014
- Does the North Dakota baby boom affect you?
- Ban the Box? Why?
- The end of the world as we know it
- Everybody has an opinion
- Changes, Changes, Changes!
- Nick Grant presents at North Dakota Safety Council's 41st Annual Safety and Health Conference
- Email impairment: A potentially harmful condition
- Are Employers Required to Give Stressed-Out Employees Time Off?
- Can you obtain a credit report when investigating employee wrongdoing?
- Can’t we just sidestep the ACA?
- Should Your Employees Telecommute? Part III
- Should Your Employees Telecommute? Part II
- Should Your Employees Telecommute?
- Proper Investigation of Employee Misconduct
- Battles in the Wellness War
- Rules are rules! Aren’t they?
- What's going on in Bismarck
- A glimpse ahead
- Obesity as a disability under the ADA – reweighing the issue
- What’s next for your business under the Affordable Care Act?
- Criminal Background Checks
- Becoming a lawyer is a process, not an event [Section 5 of 5]
- Congress Says Yes To North Slope Energy Jobs Bill
- Test Your Knowledge of Social Media Policies and Employee Discipline
- Becoming a lawyer is a process, not an event [Section 4 of 5]
- What Every Employer Needs to Know About the NLRA
- Will the 2012 Elections Make A Difference
- Where There's Smoke...
- Dress Code Etiquette: Is Casual Friday Becoming Freaky Friday
- The Next Disaster May Be Yours
- Hostile Work Environment Claims
- North Dakota Employment Law Links
- There's An App For That
- Am I a “Business Associate”? Why Should I Care?
- Do You Recognize a Cat's Paw When You See One?
- Cell Phones Can Cost a Lot, Part II
- Becoming a lawyer is a process, not an event [Section 3 of 5]
- Cell Phones Can Cost a Lot, Part I
- The Economy - What HR Professionals Need To Know
- Becoming a lawyer is a process, not an event [Section 2 of 5]
- Three New Challenges For HR Professionals
Should Your Employees Telecommute?By: Paul Ebeltoft
10 Things Your Company Should Consider
(Well, three this time with more to follow
Despite its obvious attractions, telecommuting presents employers with a host of potential legal pitfalls. For the most part, traditional employment laws are no less applicable to the “virtual office” than to the traditional office. In the absence of careful planning, employers’ inability to closely monitor home-based employees and control their working environments can give rise to significant legal exposure.
Be wary of promises that a simple telecommuting policy supported by a simple side-agreement with your telecommuting employees will cover the liability bases. Successfully developing and implementing a compliant and optimally protective policy and employment contract is a significant project for HR professionals and their legal advisers, one which should not be undertaken without complete company buy-in to the concept of allowing or limiting work-from-home options.
This is the first in a series of three articles that will describe ten points to consider when your boss asks HR to help chart a course for your company.
1. Who Owns What?
Are your telecommuting employees using company tech-hardware or their own computers to work from home? What happens if these devices and equipment are lost or damaged? Who is responsible for replacing a company computer that the family dog destroyed or a personal computer used for business that the same dog chewed.
If your company provides the property, how do you get it back upon termination? Even the most carefully worded contract will not make a claim and delivery action to wrest a computer from a disgruntled employee less traumatic for HR. Carefully worded contracts will provide some cover for your company, however, and lower the legal hurdles.
Whether your company provides the data device or not, how do you assure preservation of the data on that equipment during or at the end of employment? If it is not your equipment, who has rights to what data? Once again, clearly worded and comprehensive policies coupled to telecommuting employment contracts will save a lot of grief later.
2. Data Security
Your company probably already has a data security policy. HR must assure that your telecommuters operate under a policy-contract regimen that incorporates added security terms unique to telecommuting. For example, may your telecommuting employees work from a wireless Internet connection accessible by others? How secure is their home office environment? How do you police compliance with company policy restricting dangerous downloads or risky software on a telecommuter’s home computer?
Your IT department will tell you that ensuring access to company data appropriately and securely, either from a secure connection or through a VPN, is neither flawless nor inexpensive. Depending on your business and the amount of confidential and proprietary information accessible to certain employees, data security alone may make drive the decision to allow or restrict telecommuting.
We all know what happens when an employee is injured “on the clock.” Whether your WSI account will be charged if your telecommuter slips and injures herself on work-related papers at home is much less clear. How about if she develops a fatal blood clot after working six hours on her couch? What if she trips over her family dog moving from her home office to her kitchen? Worse yet, what if your employee is assaulted by a third-party while working at home? “It won’t happen to us,” you say. Sadly, all examples formed the basis of workers’ compensation claims brought by telecommuting employees. Deciding when an employee is working and when not, may require contract-by-contract consideration.
Good employers provide a safe working environment for their employees regardless of whether their employees work from home or in the traditional office-setting. To limit safety issues, some employers make an effort to delineate telecommuting employees’ work time and work environment by, for example, requiring employees to designate a specific area at home to serve as an office and to take lunch and rest breaks at designated times. How is this monitored? How do such rules affect the benefit of working at home? Employers who perform a site check of home offices to ensure that there are no potential hazards (such as overloaded extension cords or tripping hazards, to name a few) and to ensure that the employee’s desk and seating arrangement is appropriately designed, find that home office environments change, literally overnight, without company input. Documentation of acceptable vs. unacceptable home work environments and practices will require all of HR’s skill, experience and patience.
4-6. Look for the Next Three Points to Consider in
Your Next SAHRA Newsletter
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Reprinted with permission from an article submitted for publication in the July, 2013 Southwest Area Human Resource Association newsletter.