Working Remotely-Is This the New Normal?

April 9, 2021 | Bridging Iowa's Digital Divide Danielle D. Smid, BrownWinick Law Firm,

Remote working or “telecommuting” became the “new normal” for many employers as they continue to face the lingering challenges from the COVID-19 pandemic. Now, with vaccinations ramping up and some relief from the challenges of the pandemic on the horizon, the question becomes whether employers are willing or able to continue offering remote work as a benefit to their employees. As companies determine whether to continue remote working past the pandemic, employers should be mindful of certain legal risks and challenges posed by remote working. Each of these legal risks could be a potential liability in any in-person or remote work environment and should be taken into consideration:

• Discrimination
• Timekeeping and Overtime
• Employee Expense/Equipment Reimbursements
• Health and Safety
• Privacy and Security/Cybersecurity
• Impact on All Aspects of the Business
• Location of Remote Workers (i.e., state laws vary regarding employment-related issues)
• Employee Productivity Monitoring

Employers considering including remote working as an employee benefit moving forward should implement policies and procedures to govern the remote work environment. Besides keeping employees on track while working remotely, such policies and procedures will help avoid potential legal problems that can arise from a remote work arrangement. Employers’ policies and procedures governing remote working arrangements should include the following:

• A reminder that workplace policies and procedures
continue to govern
• Monitoring of Communications and Productivity
• Procedure for requesting remote work arrangements
• Timekeeping – including overtime worked
• Meal and Rest Break
• Expense Reimbursement
• Sick/Vacation Pay or Leaves of Absence
• Safety
• Workers’ Compensation Coverage