The COVID-19 pandemic has changed what it means to operate a business, and many employees are still working from home in 2021.With remote work comes an increased potential for wage and hour issues, especially when employers do not have a system for recording employee hours.
Tracking Hours and Breaks
With all the non-work distractions that may arise, employees should have the opportunity to track all working hours and breaks. Employers should also implement start and end times for remote work and clarify expectations about overtime. Effective time-tracking software can help employers track employees in multiple states and help employees who prefer a more flexible schedule stick to an 8-hour workday.
Because remote employees do not have to worry about commutes and can easily squeeze in tasks outside of work hours, employers must also be wary of off-the-clock hours. If an employee works, those hours should be tracked, and the employee should be compensated. Employers are responsible for paying employees for the tasks they perform, even if those tasks fall outside of working hours and aren’t specifically requested.
Employers should be clear about scheduled shifts and when work is and is not appropriate. Some employers even limit remote access until an employee has clocked in and revoke that access when the employee clocks out.
Throughout the pandemic, the home has become the workplace, which means some workers may need to be reclassified. Employees who previously spent most of their time outside of the workplace may now be spending the majority of their time in the employer’s remote workplace, so they may need their employment status adjusted appropriately.
Even independent contractors may be misclassified if an employer’s business practices shifted during the pandemic. For example, consider an in-person shop that hired an independent contractor to handle its online business. Because the business started operating primarily online, the independent contractor may need to be reclassified as an employee and paid appropriately.
As everyone knows, operating a business costs money, as well, so employees may need to be reimbursed for certain operating costs. If an employee needs a keyboard or an extra monitor at home to perform their job, for instance, their employer should provide the item or reimburse them for the cost.
Some employers have even started subsidizing internet bills for remote employees to avoid any legal disputes over reimbursement. Legally, employees must be reimbursed for expenses that are:
- Incurred within the scope of employment
- Directly related to services performed
- Required for the employee to complete their work
- More beneficial for the employer, not the employee
Remote employees should not have to spend money to do their jobs at home, particularly when remote work is required.
Remote Work Is Here to Stay
As pandemic restrictions begin to ease up, many employers have announced hybrid work schedules that allow employees to split their time between home and the office. Some employers have also eliminated their in-person workplaces and allowed employees to work from anywhere.
Remote work is here to stay, and the COVID-19 pandemic is no excuse to mishandle wage and hour issues. If you have been underpaid, shorted overtime, or misclassified, you may be entitled to back wages and other compensation.
Our team at Donati Law, PLLC can evaluate your case and help you understand your rights and legal options. We have been handling wage and hour claims for more than 35 years, and every client is a cause we believe in.
Tell us about your situation and become our cause – call us at (901) 209-5500 or send us a message online to get started today.