What are my rights as an employee working remotely?

With everything the pandemic brought to the world, it has become apparent that we will not be returning to the same pre-pandemic ‘normal.’ Instead, we must anticipate and adjust to a ‘new normal.’ But what is this ‘new normal?’

One of the most significant changes we’ve seen is in the workplace. Pivoting to remote work was a substantial change initially for employers, but employers are now starting to see this remote or hybrid work environment as a benefit for their employees. Many employers have experienced notable pushback from employees when discussing returning to the office full time.

Some employees want to know their rights in this “new normal,” so we have compiled a few points for discussion: Does the employee have the right to work remotely, do wage and hour rules still apply at home, and what covid laws are still in effect?

As an employee, can you request to work remotely?

The rule of law does not require employers to grant requests to work remotely. It is up to the employer’s discretion to even offer the option.

Since this is a hot topic, and some employees are only willing to work remotely, many employers offer remote work or hybrid situations to attract and retain the best talent. Remote options will be case-specific to job positions, as some are near impossible to function offsite.

When an employer considers your request, their decisions must remain consistent to avoid accusations of favoritism or discrimination. Check with your employer to see if there is a remote work policy first before requesting to move to remote work full-time. There are reasonable accommodations for those with medical situations protected under the ADA/FEHA.

Do Wage and Hour still apply when working from home?

If you are salary, this does not apply to you. If you are an hourly worker, it is vital to track/log your hours as you would in an office. Taking mandated breaks and meal breaks are still required. If you are working from home, we recommend stepping away from your home workspace during these breaks to help avoid burnout.

Some “work from home” expenses are considered business-related and must be reimbursed by the employer. Check your employer’s remote work policy to see what is and isn’t covered.

If your home office is located in a different city or state than the company, it would be a good idea to check the local minimum wage and paid sick leave ordinances. The wage may be higher in your home local, and the company will need to comply with the increase for the hours you work from home.

How do COVID laws apply if I am working remotely from home?

You and your employer will still need to comply with COVID laws and regulations that are still in effect. Including the California Supplemental Paid Sick Leave (“SPSL” or “COVID sick pay”), which requires companies with more than 25 employees to allow for up to 80 hours of paid sick leave for any of the qualifying COVID-related reasons. SPSL ends September 30, 2022.

If you are exposed to COVID due to work-related exposure and need to quarantine, your employer must comply with exclusion pay. This regulation ends on December 31, 2022.

The CDPH and Cal/OSHA have updated the COVID guidelines and requirements. It would be wise to keep current and know your rights and what is expected of you.

If working remotely is crucial for you and your needs, consider requesting this benefit from your employer upfront. If you are searching for a new job or career, the “remote work” search term is available in many job-related searches, and you can consider these jobs first when applying.

 

River City Staffing is not a law firm, and its employees are not attorneys nor are we affiliated or associated with attorneys. This office does not practice law and does not give legal advice.

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