Employers throughout California are doing their best to handle the COVID-19 crisis. In complying with government orders, employers are asking or requiring employees to work remotely. However, many employers are not set up for telecommuting and this may spark lawsuits for non-compliance with California’s strict wage and hour laws.

Anticipated wage and hour claims include:

Not paying employees for all hours worked while telecommuting;

Employers must have all their employees record their time and submit their hours remotely. This may include the use of software or applications that accurately records (contemporaneously) all hours worked, including meal and rest breaks. Make sure that employees comply with all company timekeeping procedures while working from home.

Not reimbursing employees for all necessary business expenses when telecommuting;

Telecommuting often requires a home office. Depending on the job an employee may need a computer, phone, tablet, internet connection, video conference software, printer, etc. Employers must provide the necessary equipment for their employees to work from home.  Alternatively, employers can reimburse their employees for reasonable expenses incurred while telecommuting.

Non payment for compensable time (Off-The-Clock work); and

If an employer institutes a protocol at work, including taking an employees’ temperature; having employees spend time putting on and taking off personal protective equipment; having employees wash their hands, then that time may be compensable. If you have any of these policies, then requiring employees to do this during meal or rest breaks may trigger paying premium payments.

Violating the salary rule.

There are limited exemptions, but exempt employees must be paid for the entire workweek during which they perform any amount of work. If exempt employees perform no work in any given workweek, they need not be paid for that week of work; however, if any absences are at the employer’s direction, exempt employees must be paid their full weekly salaries.

Conclusion

Employers concerned about any of the above-listed claims should try to mitigate their exposure by reviewing their practices now. Work with your counsel to create a Telecommuting or Work from Home Agreement that addresses issues such as hours of work, overtime, rest periods, meal periods, time tracking, the technology you are providing, as well as professionalism and security.  Employers can revoke the agreement at the employer’s discretion or have a sunset date.

If you need assistance, please contact Hackler Flynn & Associates.

DISCLAIMER: Content within this post should not be considered legal advice and is for informational purposes only. Communications made through this post do not create an attorney-client relationship. Hackler Flynn & Associates is not responsible for any content that you may access from third-party resources that may be accessed through or linked to this post.

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