Today, your workforce is probably dispersed. The new normal is to work from home. Nearly 98% of employees say they want to work remotely at least part of the time. This raises compliance questions for HR teams. What labor laws apply to remote workers? Given that states and municipalities often have labor laws that differ from federal laws, how can you be sure you comply?
What Labor Laws Could Effect Remote Workers?
Labor Laws and Your Remote Teams
Federally, the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) covers any employee in the U.S., no matter their work location. The FLSA covers minimum wage rules as well as overtime and more. It’s the rule that governs whether an employee is exempt or non-exempt. FLSA rules to watch out for with your remote workers includes:
- Minimum wage rules. Non-exempt hourly employees making minimum wage fall under federal rules unless there are state or local minimum wage variations from the federal law. FLSA requires you to pay the highest minimum wage, whether it’s mandated by federal, state, or local authorities.
- Hourly laws. The FLSA is governed by the U.S. Department of Labor. The DOL considers remote work the same as onsite when they’re looking at the hours your employees put in. Remote workers can have overtime just like your onsite workers, and the law says they must be compensated at 1.5 times their normal rate for anything over 40 hours. This is particularly challenging for remote workers who may be less meticulous about tracking their time. Fortunately, the laws say you don’t have to pay for unscheduled or unexpected hours that you didn’t authorize. The biggest hassle, though, is keeping track of the remote employee’s hours. Having a system in place for time tracking is critical for remaining in compliance with these laws.
- Break time. Nine states require break time and 21 states require breaks for meals. It’s complicated, particularly if your remote teams are dispersed across state lines. It’s always important to research and understand the local guidelines for breaks for non-exempt employees—otherwise, you risk inadvertently breaking the rules.
- Privacy laws. An area of particular concern for remote employees is privacy law. Some employers choose to use software monitoring tools to track their remote employee activities. While the law generally allows these tools to be used, the truth is that these rules are evolving rapidly—almost as fast as the technology itself.
- FMLA and vacation/leave time. The Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA) requires 12 weeks of unpaid but job-protected leave for medical or family issues. To be eligible, the employee must work for a covered employer for more than a year. A covered employer is a private company with 50+ employees within a 75-mile radius of their primary location (other rules apply). These rules are quite complex and exacerbated by the fact that most FMLA-qualified employers have workers spread across a wide geographic territory. Interestingly, the FMLA doesn’t consider the home office as a workplace. Instead, the employer’s office from where assignments are given is considered the primary work location. However, remote employees can qualify under FMLA as long as the basic requirements that the company falls under these rules are met.
- Workers’ compensation applies to remote workers, too. One article points out, “Lack of control over the conditions of work premises is irrelevant because employers are responsible for providing a safe working environment for all their employees regardless of where they work.” According to the current rules, if an employee slips and falls on their way to the kitchen coffeepot on a workday, they may still fall under workers’ comp.
Are These Labor Laws Effecting Your Remote Workers?
Adding the burden of remote workers to an already hectic HR schedule is hard. Fortunately, FoxHire exists to help employers ease the burden of employment compliance. FoxHire is an employer of record (EOR). Talk with our team today about how we can help your business manage the increasing complexities of hiring.