The U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) confirms that you may either encourage or require employees to telecommute as an infection-control or prevention strategy. We know that the new business as usual and new norm is now allowing employees who can to telework from home. The COVID-19 virus has upended many previous employer concerns over working from home options and is clearly now the obvious choice wherever possible.

We thought some tips on staying on top of work load and employee needs might come in handy for employers.Telecommuting policy

At JB Consulting Systems, this has been our standard business practice for over a decade now. Without a central office location, all of our administrative and HR consultants have always worked from their own home offices and it’s worked well. Here’s how you can implement an effective telework environment for your employees:

  1. Ensure your employees are equipped with the equipment they need.
    1. It’s not a requirement that you provide them a laptop, computer, or phone, however, if the employee doesn’t own one, perhaps consider reimbursement or an allowance for equipment purchases or to pay a portion of monthly WiFi or mobile service fees.
    2. Ensure you’ve considered cyber-security and have a protected server connection and anti-virus software, especially if you’re employee handles confidential customer information.
  2. Update a current policy or establish a telework policy and agreement to highlight expectations and accountability. This will ensure both you and the employee are on the same page with work performance expectations. Don’t have a policy and would like one? Contact JBCS for information on creating this policy and Telecommuting Agreement.
  3. Stay in contact and face-to-face with your employees by using free or low-cost virtual teleconference tools such as Skype, Zoom, Ring Central. There are a plethora of free apps and software that are available to download on laptops and smart phones, making it easier than ever to stay connected.
  4. Establish reasonable work goals to keep everyone accountable and create check-ins on progress, if necessary.
  5. Ensure you and your supervisors are effectively managing overtime eligible hourly employees consistently and correctly under the FLSA guidelines. Management should establish practices and procedures for reporting work time, break time and recording all hours appropriately and communicate it effectively.
    1. If you have supervisors that manage OT eligible employees, please ensure they are fully aware of their requirements under the FLSA guidelines and train them properly. JBCS can help with this training.
  6. Physical safety for an employee working from home is still the responsibility of the employer. To limit liability and injuries, designating specific work hours while at home is not only prudent, but necessary.
    1. Injuries sustained by the employee in a home office location and in conjunction with his or her regular work duties are normally covered by the company’s workers’ compensation policy.
    2. Telecommuting employees are responsible for notifying the employer of such injuries as soon as practicable. The employee is liable for any injuries sustained by visitors to his or her home worksite.

If you and your managers need help with establishing a formalized telecommuting policy or agreement or have questions about implementing this practice please contact us or give us a call. The Human Resources professionals from JB Consulting Systems are available to further discuss the upcoming changes, answer questions, or review your current policies and practices for compliance related to telework options.