State:

National
Telecommuting and telework allow employees to work part or all of their standard workweek from a remote location. The concept of a remote workforce has involvedevolved from a convenience to a business necessity.
Proven advantages of telework for employers are reduce costs for work space, utilities, and other overhead; lower absenteeism; elimination of weather-based closures; increased productivity, morale, and retention; a competitive edge in hiring from larger geographic areas; possible accommodations for certain workers; and promoting employees’ work/-life balance. Governments also promote telework to reduce traffic congestion and benefit the environment.
Schedules. Telecommuting can be informal, such as during special, short-term projects; on a regular basis, such as 1 or 2 days a week; a formal arrangement for 100 percent of work time; or as part of emergency planning for storms, natural disasters, power outages, quarantines, etc.
Locations. While most telecommuters work from a home office, there are other options, including satellite offices, "hoteling" in leased space on an as-needed basis, or mobile offices.
There are no direct federal laws that regulate private-sector telecommuting. However, there are certain ancillary laws employers should consider.
Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA). Employers covered by FLSA must monitor hours of work by nonexempt employees and maintain records recording total hours worked each day and workweek (29 C.F.R. 516.2(a)(7)). Nonexempt employees are covered by the FLSA's restrictions on minimum wage and overtime regardless of where they perform their jobs, including home offices. Therefore, a telecommuting agreement should require the telecommuter to report hours worked on a daily and weekly basis. Employees may keep timecards, but computer or telephone tracking systems that generate logs of hours worked are more reliable.
Covered employers are required to pay employees for all hours worked, regardless of whether they have issued rules prohibiting work beyond a prescribed number of hours. Therefore, an agreement should include a provision advising the employee not to work more than a specified number of hours a week without prior approval. Because of these potential problems, some companies limit telecommuting to exempt employees. Trying to circumvent the FLSA's overtime liability by transforming a non-exempt employee's job into an exempt administrative position or attempting to reclassify employees as independent contractors when they are working on company-supplied equipment could be questioned in an FLSA audit.
Discrimination. Federal fair employment laws prohibit employment practices that discriminate based on age, race, color, sex, national origin, religion, disability, and genetic information. In many states, sexual orientation, gender identity, and marital and familial status are also protected characteristics. Employers may wish to use caution in interviewing remote job candidates because the technology available to some candidates may lead to claims of disparate impact on protected classes under these laws. More information is available at the national Discrimination section.
Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). The ADA requires a covered employer to make reasonable accommodations to allow a disabled individual to perform the essential functions of his or her job. While the ADA does not mention telecommuting as a potential reasonable accommodation, several courts have suggested that employers must consider allowing an employee to telecommute under certain circumstances. At the very least, the ADA requires an examination of each case to determine appropriate reasonable accommodations and whether such accommodation would be a "hardship." Employers offering telecommuting as a reasonable accommodation under the ADA should evaluate the essential functions of the employee's job to determine whether telecommuting is even feasible.
The Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals has ruled that telecommuting may be a reasonable accommodation under the ADA whenever an employee can effectively perform all work-related duties at home, especially with advances in technology, However, the court was careful to clarify that it was “not rejecting the long line of precedent recognizing predictable attendance as an essential function of most jobs” (EEOC v. Ford Motor Co.,No. 12-2484 (6th Cir. Mich. 4/22/14)).
The 6th Circuit’s decision makes telecommuting an option that many employers will need to consider when an employee requests reasonable accommodation for a disability. When weighing a telecommuting request, employers should consider whether an employee’s physical presence is actually required in the workplace and should review communication options that may provide alternatives to physical attendance in the workplace.
On the other hand, the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that a hospital that had an employee who became legally blind and could no longer drive the 120-mile daily commute to her job was not obligated to allow her to telecommute, as her position required more than four hours of face-to-face interactions per day. (Unrein v. PHC-Fort Morgan, Inc. (10th Cir., 4/8/21)). The court held that, although the ADA places obligations on an employer to accommodate disabled workers, the obligation was “not absolute,” and the plaintiff herself could have eliminated the transportation barrier by obtaining rides or moving closer to the hospital.
The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) has issued guidance on how an employer should respond to an employee who may be unable to receive a COVID-19 vaccination due to a disability. Prior temporary telework may be a factor in assessing whether telework would constitute a reasonable accommodation under the ADA. Additional EEOC guidance is available at the EEOC site..
Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA). The availability of telecommuting may assist both the employee and employer by providing an alternative to taking a full leave by allowing an employee to telecommute full- or part-time on an intermittent basis. Note: While the FMLA does not prohibit working at home during leave, the U.S. Department of Labor has said that any time spent working for the company cannot count against the employee's federal allotment of 12 weeks of leave.
Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). OSHA will not hold companies responsible for the safety of their telecommuters' home offices. However, since the employer's workers' compensation carrier is responsible for any job-related injuries to an employee whether at home or the workplace, the employer may want to publicize and exercise the right to inspect home offices for safety standards.
State laws. Employers should determine whether their state has laws regulating telecommuting, especially with regard to workers' compensation. There are state laws regarding meal and rest breaks. Employees must also accept responsibility for any state tax consequences attendant on working at home and for complying with any local ordinances that would conflict with their ability to work at home.
Most states also have laws that make employers responsible for injuries that arise out of the employment relationship and occur in the course of employment. States also require employers to provide a safe workplace. This is a very complex and state-specific area of the law, so employers are advised to consult with an attorney when implementing a telecommuting plan.
Local requirements. Employees setting up a home office should look into any restrictions under local zoning regulations or other ordinances that would conflict with their ability to work from home.
State income taxes. Some states have reciprocity agreements so that employees who telecommute from a state other than the one where the employer is located do not face double taxation on their incomes; other states do not. Employees working for an extended period of time in Arkansas, Connecticut, Delaware, Nebraska, New York, Pennsylvania, and Massachusetts may incur additional tax obligations. The “convenience of the employer” rule was challenged by multiple states in the United States Supreme Court, but it declined to hear the case. It is best to contact the state tax department or seek advice from a local attorney. At this time, there is no federal legislation on this issue.
Employer tax concerns. Some employees may be able to deduct expenses such as rent, utilities, depreciation, and insurance, security system costs, and certain telephone costs for a "home office” used exclusively as a place of business from their federal income taxes (Internal Revenue Code § 280A). Expenses that may be deducted include depreciation and repairs, rent, utilities, insurance, and the cost of security systems. Employers, however, should refrain from giving tax advice and refer employees to their own accountants or tax consultants.
Telecommuters from other states. Telecommuters residing in other states could inadvertently establish a physical presence in a state, giving rise to registration and tax issues. For example, if sales of goods or services were made in the other state, it could establish a presence; if administrative or support work was done, it would not. Employers may contact their state attorney general's office if this issue applies to their organization.
A remote workforce policy should address security, expectations, and workload issues. Employers should study each job that will be allowed to happen remotely to be sure the standards and expectations are reasonable. Employers should base eligibility for the remote work on clear criteria and reserve the right to terminate the policy at itstheir discretion.
A remote work policy should:
• Define eligibility to participate, or who will be able permitted to work from home. Employers may consider whether to include long-time employees or part-time employees, or whether the decision will be job-specific. Eligibility may be limited to employees who need a reasonable accommodation or intermittent leave. The policy may also anticipate who will be allowed to telecommute under emergency circumstances.
• Address whether remote work arrangements are temporary, permanent, or up for review. If the arrangements areis temporary, itthey should establish the relevant dates. If the arrangements areis up for review, itthey should establish what triggers a review.
• Identify when will employees be allowed to work from home. Telecommuting can be informal, such as during special, short-term projects; on a regular basis, such as 1 or 2 days a week; a formal arrangement for 100 percent of work time; or as part of emergency planning.
• Identify positions that can be successfully performed via computer and/or telephone. The policy should also identify positions wherewhose job functions can be done via telecommuting when emergency conditions prevent employees from coming to the facility, such as contagious diseases, inclement weather, and travel disruptions. Additionally, management positions that require the person to be on-site to supervise others may not be suitable for telecommuting.
• Set limits on the number of employees who will be permitted to work from home if needed. If appropriate, the policy may limit the number of telecommuters in any particular department or limit the number of telecommuters who have a particular skill.
• Establish a policy for use-of-equipment, reimbursement, and insurance requirements.
• Detail the performance standards expected of the telecommuters. Supervisors should identify and set deadlines for completion of work. Supervisors should also identify quantities of work to be accomplished. In general, the policy should set out as many objective standards of measurement of performance as possible.
• Define time- management expectations for remote employees to address the availability of flexible work hours, which may be needed if they are telecommuting because of childcare issues.
• Address expectations about remote workers’ level of virtual availability (e.g., by e-mail, phone, video), minimal response time, and whether they must come into the office on occasion. Employers should establish a policy requiring all telecommuters to attend regular staff or team-building meetings and make contingency plans for attending short-notice, emergency meetings.
• State that the company’s timekeeping policies apply to remote tracking of work hours and breaks, especially for nonex¬empt employees, to avoid off-the-clock and break violations.
• State that all the rules that govern behavior in the workplace also apply to telecommuters. For example, they are expected to only perform work for the company, not for themselves or others, and they are to adhere to all ethics and privacy policies. Similarly, any company equipment that they use at home is expected to be used for company busi¬ness, not their own.
• Clarify remote working is not an alternative to dependent care or meant to accommodate personal or other business responsibilities.
• Specify company property must not be used by anyone who is not employed by the organization and that all such equipment and information must be kept secure. Employers should outline a process for employees to follow if company property is lost or damaged.
• Establish that the remote worker is expected to comply with all applicable company policies (e.g., conflict of interest, confidentiality, moonlighting, drug and alcohol use).
• Establish a communications process among on-site employees and those working remotely. This should include a mechanism for identifying what work has been accomplished, the status of any task, and where information or files can be located.
• Address issues such as privacy of company information, security of software, data, and equipment that may be used at an employee’s home, as well as the safety of the employee while performing tasks outside the workplace.
In addition to a remote work policy, employers should also consider having remote work agreements that are in writing and signed by the employee. These cannot be all-inclusive and should be company-specific, tailored to the particular nuances of a business. In setting out the obligations of both employer and employee, key points to consider are policy issues, operational issues, management issues, and security issues.
That agreement should:
• Clearly define the remote working plan’s effective dates.;
• Establish the expected hours of work.;
• Define the work location.;
• Establish expectations for work performance.;
• Continue the application and enforcement of all employment practices.;
• Proceed with employment reviews, with an emphasis on employees’ achieving expectations.;
• Allow for a home office inspection.;
• State specific days and times employees are required to come to the office, and note that they should have contingency arrangements in place for things such as child care or transportation should they be called into the office at another time. This will prevent misunderstandings that could result in lawsuits. If telecommuters may attend meetings via phone or Internet, indicate at which days and times they must be available to be contacted.;
• Outline insurance requirements.;
• List the computer hardware and software or other office equipment that each party will supply, the terms of use, procedure for return of the equipment, and responsibility for equipment maintenance and repairs.;
• Discuss and define employer-reimbursable expenses, such as Internet access charges, long-distance calls, courier or express mail services, utility charges, and supplies. Employers should also clearly define the terms of use for these services.
• Address the safeguarding of company data files, trade secrets, and other proprietary information on electronic devices, even when owned by the employee but used for work.;
• Protect the company’s right to recall employees to an on-site location (to the extent allowable under local law).; and
• Ensure the rules and expectations apply to all employees working remotely.
To preserve a company's normal prerogatives, such as disciplinary procedures and dismissal rights, the telecommuting agreement should state that it does not change the at-will nature of the employer/employee relationship, as stated in the employee handbook. Also, compensation, benefits, and standard work hours (unless the employer and employee specifically agree otherwise) are not affected by the agreement. The agreement should specify whether the telecommuter is an independent contractor or employee and clearly define the duties of the position and state that the agreement will be discontinued if the arrangement no longer serves the best interests of the company.
A reliable, efficient telecommuting program should:
• Require workers wishing to telecommute to write a proposal outlining how they will meet requirements of the job, maintain motivation, communicate with managers, and maintain the home office.
• List specific job objectives and measurable performance goals and set a formal evaluation date to determine whether these goals have been met.
• Create a training program that covers use of software, attendance requirements, response times, and communication expectations.
• Provide support for technical problems (within a reasonable time frame of approximately 30 minutes).
Home offices should have a lockable door, a paper shredder, and a lockable file cabinet. The telecommuting agreement should address the safeguarding of company data files, trade secrets, and other proprietary information on electronic devices, even when owned by the employee, but used for work. Security measures must be followed strictly, and telecommuters must immediately report any breeches of data security. Employers should also retain the right to monitor e-mail, Internet use, and other communication by teleworkers during business hours, especially if the telecommuter is working with personal health information data covered under the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) Privacy Rule. More information is available at the Please see the national Electronic Monitoring, national Privacy, national Health Information Privacy sections.
Under the Telework Enhancement Act of 2010 (Public Law 111–292), the head of each executive agency must establish and implement a policy authorizing employees to telework and incorporating telecommuting options into agency emergency action plans. Permission for a federal employee to telecommute requires a written telecommuting agreement between the employee and manager outlining specific work to be performed and the employee's participation in a telework training program. Employees who have been disciplined in the calendar year are not allowed to participate.
Temporary teleworking arrangements are an essential part of emergency planning for disruptions due to natural or man-made disasters, fuel shortages, or pandemic disease when employees are unable to, or refuse to, come to work. Employers should create a list of employees who could successfully perform their jobs, or elements of their jobs, through telecommuting. They should investigate which employees would need laptops or have home computers that would suffice and determine whether those employees need high-speed Internet access in order to access company files remotely and whether they would need special software installed to perform company-related tasks, as well as what types of access to servers and files they would need.
expand-collapse section
Last reviewed on October 8, 2021.
Related Topics:
National
Telecommuting and telework allow employees to work part or all of their standard workweek from a remote location. The concept of a remote workforce has involvedevolved from a convenience to a business necessity.
Proven advantages of telework for employers are reduce costs for work space, utilities, and other overhead; lower absenteeism; elimination of weather-based closures; increased productivity, morale, and retention; a competitive edge in hiring from larger geographic areas; possible accommodations for certain workers; and promoting employees’ work/-life balance. Governments also promote telework to reduce traffic congestion and benefit the environment.
Schedules. Telecommuting can be informal, such as during special, short-term projects; on a regular basis, such as 1 or 2 days a week; a formal arrangement for 100 percent of work time; or as part of emergency planning for storms, natural disasters, power outages, quarantines, etc.
Locations. While most telecommuters work from a home office, there are other options, including satellite offices, "hoteling" in leased space on an as-needed basis, or mobile offices.
There are no direct federal laws that regulate private-sector telecommuting. However, there are certain ancillary laws employers should consider.
Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA). Employers covered by FLSA must monitor hours of work by nonexempt employees and maintain records recording total hours worked each day and workweek (29 C.F.R. 516.2(a)(7)). Nonexempt employees are covered by the FLSA's restrictions on minimum wage and overtime regardless of where they perform their jobs, including home offices. Therefore, a telecommuting agreement should require the telecommuter to report hours worked on a daily and weekly basis. Employees may keep timecards, but computer or telephone tracking systems that generate logs of hours worked are more reliable.
Covered employers are required to pay employees for all hours worked, regardless of whether they have issued rules prohibiting work beyond a prescribed number of hours. Therefore, an agreement should include a provision advising the employee not to work more than a specified number of hours a week without prior approval. Because of these potential problems, some companies limit telecommuting to exempt employees. Trying to circumvent the FLSA's overtime liability by transforming a non-exempt employee's job into an exempt administrative position or attempting to reclassify employees as independent contractors when they are working on company-supplied equipment could be questioned in an FLSA audit.
Discrimination. Federal fair employment laws prohibit employment practices that discriminate based on age, race, color, sex, national origin, religion, disability, and genetic information. In many states, sexual orientation, gender identity, and marital and familial status are also protected characteristics. Employers may wish to use caution in interviewing remote job candidates because the technology available to some candidates may lead to claims of disparate impact on protected classes under these laws. More information is available at the national Discrimination section.
Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). The ADA requires a covered employer to make reasonable accommodations to allow a disabled individual to perform the essential functions of his or her job. While the ADA does not mention telecommuting as a potential reasonable accommodation, several courts have suggested that employers must consider allowing an employee to telecommute under certain circumstances. At the very least, the ADA requires an examination of each case to determine appropriate reasonable accommodations and whether such accommodation would be a "hardship." Employers offering telecommuting as a reasonable accommodation under the ADA should evaluate the essential functions of the employee's job to determine whether telecommuting is even feasible.
The Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals has ruled that telecommuting may be a reasonable accommodation under the ADA whenever an employee can effectively perform all work-related duties at home, especially with advances in technology, However, the court was careful to clarify that it was “not rejecting the long line of precedent recognizing predictable attendance as an essential function of most jobs” (EEOC v. Ford Motor Co.,No. 12-2484 (6th Cir. Mich. 4/22/14)).
The 6th Circuit’s decision makes telecommuting an option that many employers will need to consider when an employee requests reasonable accommodation for a disability. When weighing a telecommuting request, employers should consider whether an employee’s physical presence is actually required in the workplace and should review communication options that may provide alternatives to physical attendance in the workplace.
On the other hand, the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that a hospital that had an employee who became legally blind and could no longer drive the 120-mile daily commute to her job was not obligated to allow her to telecommute, as her position required more than four hours of face-to-face interactions per day. (Unrein v. PHC-Fort Morgan, Inc. (10th Cir., 4/8/21)). The court held that, although the ADA places obligations on an employer to accommodate disabled workers, the obligation was “not absolute,” and the plaintiff herself could have eliminated the transportation barrier by obtaining rides or moving closer to the hospital.
The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) has issued guidance on how an employer should respond to an employee who may be unable to receive a COVID-19 vaccination due to a disability. Prior temporary telework may be a factor in assessing whether telework would constitute a reasonable accommodation under the ADA. Additional EEOC guidance is available at the EEOC site..
Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA). The availability of telecommuting may assist both the employee and employer by providing an alternative to taking a full leave by allowing an employee to telecommute full- or part-time on an intermittent basis. Note: While the FMLA does not prohibit working at home during leave, the U.S. Department of Labor has said that any time spent working for the company cannot count against the employee's federal allotment of 12 weeks of leave.
Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). OSHA will not hold companies responsible for the safety of their telecommuters' home offices. However, since the employer's workers' compensation carrier is responsible for any job-related injuries to an employee whether at home or the workplace, the employer may want to publicize and exercise the right to inspect home offices for safety standards.
State laws. Employers should determine whether their state has laws regulating telecommuting, especially with regard to workers' compensation. There are state laws regarding meal and rest breaks. Employees must also accept responsibility for any state tax consequences attendant on working at home and for complying with any local ordinances that would conflict with their ability to work at home.
Most states also have laws that make employers responsible for injuries that arise out of the employment relationship and occur in the course of employment. States also require employers to provide a safe workplace. This is a very complex and state-specific area of the law, so employers are advised to consult with an attorney when implementing a telecommuting plan.
Local requirements. Employees setting up a home office should look into any restrictions under local zoning regulations or other ordinances that would conflict with their ability to work from home.
State income taxes. Some states have reciprocity agreements so that employees who telecommute from a state other than the one where the employer is located do not face double taxation on their incomes; other states do not. Employees working for an extended period of time in Arkansas, Connecticut, Delaware, Nebraska, New York, Pennsylvania, and Massachusetts may incur additional tax obligations. The “convenience of the employer” rule was challenged by multiple states in the United States Supreme Court, but it declined to hear the case. It is best to contact the state tax department or seek advice from a local attorney. At this time, there is no federal legislation on this issue.
Employer tax concerns. Some employees may be able to deduct expenses such as rent, utilities, depreciation, and insurance, security system costs, and certain telephone costs for a "home office” used exclusively as a place of business from their federal income taxes (Internal Revenue Code § 280A). Expenses that may be deducted include depreciation and repairs, rent, utilities, insurance, and the cost of security systems. Employers, however, should refrain from giving tax advice and refer employees to their own accountants or tax consultants.
Telecommuters from other states. Telecommuters residing in other states could inadvertently establish a physical presence in a state, giving rise to registration and tax issues. For example, if sales of goods or services were made in the other state, it could establish a presence; if administrative or support work was done, it would not. Employers may contact their state attorney general's office if this issue applies to their organization.
A remote workforce policy should address security, expectations, and workload issues. Employers should study each job that will be allowed to happen remotely to be sure the standards and expectations are reasonable. Employers should base eligibility for the remote work on clear criteria and reserve the right to terminate the policy at itstheir discretion.
A remote work policy should:
• Define eligibility to participate, or who will be able permitted to work from home. Employers may consider whether to include long-time employees or part-time employees, or whether the decision will be job-specific. Eligibility may be limited to employees who need a reasonable accommodation or intermittent leave. The policy may also anticipate who will be allowed to telecommute under emergency circumstances.
• Address whether remote work arrangements are temporary, permanent, or up for review. If the arrangements areis temporary, itthey should establish the relevant dates. If the arrangements areis up for review, itthey should establish what triggers a review.
• Identify when will employees be allowed to work from home. Telecommuting can be informal, such as during special, short-term projects; on a regular basis, such as 1 or 2 days a week; a formal arrangement for 100 percent of work time; or as part of emergency planning.
• Identify positions that can be successfully performed via computer and/or telephone. The policy should also identify positions wherewhose job functions can be done via telecommuting when emergency conditions prevent employees from coming to the facility, such as contagious diseases, inclement weather, and travel disruptions. Additionally, management positions that require the person to be on-site to supervise others may not be suitable for telecommuting.
• Set limits on the number of employees who will be permitted to work from home if needed. If appropriate, the policy may limit the number of telecommuters in any particular department or limit the number of telecommuters who have a particular skill.
• Establish a policy for use-of-equipment, reimbursement, and insurance requirements.
• Detail the performance standards expected of the telecommuters. Supervisors should identify and set deadlines for completion of work. Supervisors should also identify quantities of work to be accomplished. In general, the policy should set out as many objective standards of measurement of performance as possible.
• Define time- management expectations for remote employees to address the availability of flexible work hours, which may be needed if they are telecommuting because of childcare issues.
• Address expectations about remote workers’ level of virtual availability (e.g., by e-mail, phone, video), minimal response time, and whether they must come into the office on occasion. Employers should establish a policy requiring all telecommuters to attend regular staff or team-building meetings and make contingency plans for attending short-notice, emergency meetings.
• State that the company’s timekeeping policies apply to remote tracking of work hours and breaks, especially for nonex¬empt employees, to avoid off-the-clock and break violations.
• State that all the rules that govern behavior in the workplace also apply to telecommuters. For example, they are expected to only perform work for the company, not for themselves or others, and they are to adhere to all ethics and privacy policies. Similarly, any company equipment that they use at home is expected to be used for company busi¬ness, not their own.
• Clarify remote working is not an alternative to dependent care or meant to accommodate personal or other business responsibilities.
• Specify company property must not be used by anyone who is not employed by the organization and that all such equipment and information must be kept secure. Employers should outline a process for employees to follow if company property is lost or damaged.
• Establish that the remote worker is expected to comply with all applicable company policies (e.g., conflict of interest, confidentiality, moonlighting, drug and alcohol use).
• Establish a communications process among on-site employees and those working remotely. This should include a mechanism for identifying what work has been accomplished, the status of any task, and where information or files can be located.
• Address issues such as privacy of company information, security of software, data, and equipment that may be used at an employee’s home, as well as the safety of the employee while performing tasks outside the workplace.
In addition to a remote work policy, employers should also consider having remote work agreements that are in writing and signed by the employee. These cannot be all-inclusive and should be company-specific, tailored to the particular nuances of a business. In setting out the obligations of both employer and employee, key points to consider are policy issues, operational issues, management issues, and security issues.
That agreement should:
• Clearly define the remote working plan’s effective dates.;
• Establish the expected hours of work.;
• Define the work location.;
• Establish expectations for work performance.;
• Continue the application and enforcement of all employment practices.;
• Proceed with employment reviews, with an emphasis on employees’ achieving expectations.;
• Allow for a home office inspection.;
• State specific days and times employees are required to come to the office, and note that they should have contingency arrangements in place for things such as child care or transportation should they be called into the office at another time. This will prevent misunderstandings that could result in lawsuits. If telecommuters may attend meetings via phone or Internet, indicate at which days and times they must be available to be contacted.;
• Outline insurance requirements.;
• List the computer hardware and software or other office equipment that each party will supply, the terms of use, procedure for return of the equipment, and responsibility for equipment maintenance and repairs.;
• Discuss and define employer-reimbursable expenses, such as Internet access charges, long-distance calls, courier or express mail services, utility charges, and supplies. Employers should also clearly define the terms of use for these services.
• Address the safeguarding of company data files, trade secrets, and other proprietary information on electronic devices, even when owned by the employee but used for work.;
• Protect the company’s right to recall employees to an on-site location (to the extent allowable under local law).; and
• Ensure the rules and expectations apply to all employees working remotely.
To preserve a company's normal prerogatives, such as disciplinary procedures and dismissal rights, the telecommuting agreement should state that it does not change the at-will nature of the employer/employee relationship, as stated in the employee handbook. Also, compensation, benefits, and standard work hours (unless the employer and employee specifically agree otherwise) are not affected by the agreement. The agreement should specify whether the telecommuter is an independent contractor or employee and clearly define the duties of the position and state that the agreement will be discontinued if the arrangement no longer serves the best interests of the company.
A reliable, efficient telecommuting program should:
• Require workers wishing to telecommute to write a proposal outlining how they will meet requirements of the job, maintain motivation, communicate with managers, and maintain the home office.
• List specific job objectives and measurable performance goals and set a formal evaluation date to determine whether these goals have been met.
• Create a training program that covers use of software, attendance requirements, response times, and communication expectations.
• Provide support for technical problems (within a reasonable time frame of approximately 30 minutes).
Home offices should have a lockable door, a paper shredder, and a lockable file cabinet. The telecommuting agreement should address the safeguarding of company data files, trade secrets, and other proprietary information on electronic devices, even when owned by the employee, but used for work. Security measures must be followed strictly, and telecommuters must immediately report any breeches of data security. Employers should also retain the right to monitor e-mail, Internet use, and other communication by teleworkers during business hours, especially if the telecommuter is working with personal health information data covered under the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) Privacy Rule. More information is available at the Please see the national Electronic Monitoring, national Privacy, national Health Information Privacy sections.
Under the Telework Enhancement Act of 2010 (Public Law 111–292), the head of each executive agency must establish and implement a policy authorizing employees to telework and incorporating telecommuting options into agency emergency action plans. Permission for a federal employee to telecommute requires a written telecommuting agreement between the employee and manager outlining specific work to be performed and the employee's participation in a telework training program. Employees who have been disciplined in the calendar year are not allowed to participate.
Temporary teleworking arrangements are an essential part of emergency planning for disruptions due to natural or man-made disasters, fuel shortages, or pandemic disease when employees are unable to, or refuse to, come to work. Employers should create a list of employees who could successfully perform their jobs, or elements of their jobs, through telecommuting. They should investigate which employees would need laptops or have home computers that would suffice and determine whether those employees need high-speed Internet access in order to access company files remotely and whether they would need special software installed to perform company-related tasks, as well as what types of access to servers and files they would need.
expand-collapse section
Last reviewed on October 8, 2021.
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