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Employer Responsibilities When Employees Work from Home

The last year has seen many employers and employees quickly dive into a new way of working. Employers have had to develop and adopt technology strategies that could be used to get work done remotely. Employees had to acclimatize to new technologies, platforms, and strategies to work from home while helping children with schoolwork, quieting the barking dog, and generally trying to seamlessly integrate professional life and personal life. We are now almost a year into this transition and several shifts are occurring in the American workforce. During that time, we have had several attempts by companies at bringing employees back into the office by rigging the office environment with heaps of safety precautions, but with limited success. However, there are several fundamental truths that are also being realized: 1) employers are realizing they can reduce costs if employees work from home, provided certain policies and controls are in place; 2) employees are realizing they have much more control over their work/life balance if they can work from home; and 3) studies are showing that most employees want to continue working from home at least part of the time even after the pandemic is no longer a threat to our safety and well-being.

The disconnect right now during this transition is that the laws and regulations at the federal, state, and local levels have been traditionally designed with the assumption that most employees are working at a job site other than their homes. Some laws and regulations have been updated to reflect the new work from home reality; others have not. Even something as simple as the requirement to post notices varies by regulation. The governments at these various levels are assessing the changes needed and are also requiring organizations to comply with these laws and regulations with a remote workforce or risk incurring fines and penalties. Companies need to stay abreast of these changes.

Employee handbooks are in the same category. Outdated messaging, policies, and procedures can generate differences in the ways that employees are treated by managers and across locations, opening businesses up to potential lawsuits. Companies need to not only look at individual policies and procedures for potential updating but to develop strategies that will allow an organization to function optimally regardless of where individual employees are working to reduce the potential for lawsuits or governmental action against it.

The attorneys at Leonard Sciolla can assist your organization to determine areas of potential risks and ways to mitigate them when many or all of your employees are working remotely. We can help your business’ transition from a legal perspective into fully remote or hybrid work environments for both now and in the future. This will help keep your company focused on doing business while remaining compliant with ever-changing laws and regulations and effectuating consistent internal policies and procedures.

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