Avoiding Expensive Employment Law Penalties While Managing Remote Staff – What Employers Need To KnowSafety Info June 19, 2023 0 COMMENTS
A considerable number of companies are increasingly leaning towards a fully-remote or hybrid mode of work at present, thanks to the numerous benefits of the same. From reduced operating costs to lower turnover and increased employee productivity, several perks come with hiring remote staff. However, according to Atlanta employment law attorneys, allowing employees to work remotely doesn’t mean companies can get away with non-compliance with employment laws.
In fact, not following employment laws can be quite expensive for companies, so they may end up paying high penalties for non-compliance. However, ensuring compliance with federal employment laws while managing remote staff may be a hassle, especially if employees try exploiting legal loopholes. Therefore, companies need to ensure adequate measures to avoid the risk of penalties.
Below are some labor laws that companies need to be especially aware of when working with remote staff.
Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA)
According to the Fair Labor Standards Act or FLSA, employers must pay overtime wages to non-exempt employees working 40 hours a week. The overtime pay will be at the rate of 1.5 times the regular hourly wages of the employee. All non-exempt full-time and part-time employees are eligible for this, and therefore it also applies to remote workers.
However, tracking the worked hours can be challenging for employees working from home. And unless the company accurately tracks and pays employees their rightful wages for the hours worked, employees can take the legal route to obtain their dues.
Therefore, it’s essential for the company to clearly define the working hours of their employees. In case companies do not want their employees to work overtime, adopting restrictions on remote computer access after specified work hours may be a viable option. However, in the case of companies that offer flexible work hours, it is essential to implement an efficient time-tracking system to keep track of all the hours logged by an employee.
Occupational Safety and Health Act (OSHA)
As per the Occupational Safety and Health Act, the employer is responsible for ensuring their employee’s safety while at work. And this is applicable not only when the employees work within the company premises but for remote workers too.
Employers need to provide suitable work equipment to employees working from home and are responsible for maintaining the equipment. But that is not all. The company also needs to assess the work environment to ensure that it’s free from hazards and suitable for the type of work the employee needs to do.
Employees are required to take reasonable care to ensure their safety while working and be aware of the company-approved procedure of reporting any work-related incidents.
Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA)
The Family Medical Leave Act allows employees to take job-protected unpaid leave for up to 12 weeks a year for certain health or family-related reasons. Employees working remotely are just as entitled to this leave as those working at the company premises – as long as they meet the eligibility requirements.
To be eligible for leave under FMLA, an employee needs to have completed 12 months at their current company and have worked for a minimum of 1250 hours during the said period. In addition, there have to be at least 50 employees of the company working within a 75-mile radius of the work site. However, for remote workers, the work site isn’t their actual place of work but the office which assigns their work.
Remote working may have several benefits, but it also comes with its own share of issues. However, as long as companies implement the right measures to ensure compliance with employment laws in the country, they can easily avoid incurring penalties while managing their remote staff.