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Drawing Boundaries for your Employees who Work From Home to Limit Employer Exposure

Since the pandemic began the U.S. and specifically California, have seen a shift in the workplace with employees in many industries having to Work from Home.  Now, more and more employees are choosing to Work from Home, despite many businesses bringing their employees back to the office. Sometimes it is the choice of the employee whether or not to return to the office; sometimes due to high risk, being immunocompromised, they cannot return to work; or maybe they have returned to work but are working a hybrid schedule (splitting time between the office and the workplace) and are at home during the week to work.  So when at home, how does your employee disconnect? Stop working?  How do you prevent your hourly employee from returning that email at 10 p.m. just before they go to bed?

As Covid-19 related litigation increases, we are seeing more and more wage & hour claims from hourly employees who do not know how to “turn off”, “shut down” or “disconnect” from work.   For your employees who work throughout the day, but not necessarily from 9-5, how do you pay them?  Does a split shift apply? Did they get their meal and rest breaks timely and according to law? What about that email at 10 p.m.? Do you have to pay them for answering that? Do you have to pay them overtime?

In order to limit employer exposure to wage & hour lawsuits, you need to make sure you know when your hourly/non-exempt employees are working. They need to track their time, take their meal periods and rest breaks even if they are working from home, just like if they were in the office. You are also subject to California Overtime laws for those who work more than 8 hours in a day or 40 hours in a week.  Make sure you have written Work from Home policies in place to ensure your employees know what to expect when they Work at Home. Encourage your hourly workers to disconnect from the office, which will also limit employers’ financial obligations to their employees beyond the normal workday. 

For more information on how to manage a remote workforce, create policies that will allow your employee to create boundaries when working from home and limit your company’s exposure and risk to wage & hour lawsuits, please contact the Employer Lawyers at Chauvel & Glatt.

The material in this article, provided by Chauvel & Glatt, is designed to provide informative and current information as of the date of the post. It should not be considered, nor is it intended to constitute, legal advice or promise similar outcomes. For information on your particular circumstances, please contact Chauvel & Glatt at 650-573-9500. (photo credit: 123rf.com)

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