Policy Considerations for Remote Work Going Forward

By: Melanie M. Dunajeski

Remote work was not a new concept when COVID-19 came to town, but for many employers, it represented a sharp departure from ordinary operating procedures.  Remote work frequently was the ONLY option to keep an enterprise going through the crisis. Companies had to adopt remote working on the fly and find solutions for each new crisis as it arose.  Now, a full year into the pandemic, it appears that many of these remote work relationships may become permanent, at least on a part-time basis. With distance/remoteness now a stark factor of workforce management, employers must adopt or tailor their policies to keep these remote relationships legal, compliant, and productive.

A Remote Work Policy, whether as an emergency measure or as a business-as-usual option, should set the parameters of the availability and expectations of remote work.

Items to consider

  1. What positions are eligible for remote work?
  2. Is 100% remote work a viable option or a hybrid of remote and in-person work?
  3. What are qualifying and disqualifying factors for eligibility? Some positions may lend themselves to the employee performing work during non-traditional hours or during non-consecutive blocks of time throughout the day, but others may not.
  4. What are the company expectations for working hours and availability of the employee during particular hours?
  5. What are the expectations as to communication?

Remote work may require adaptation of other policies and procedures as well.  For example, for non-exempt employees, employers may need to adapt their timekeeping/reporting procedures to assure that employee time is accurately reported and paid. Other timekeeping/reporting policies, such as taking appropriate meal and rest breaks may also need to be reinforced in a remote environment.

Communications policies may need to be adapted as well.  With many meetings now occurring on remote meeting platforms such as Zoom, company requirements with respect to use of such meetings (acceptable attire, backgrounds, etc.) may need to be adopted.

Remoteness may also require updates to technology and security policies.  Is the employer supplying all of the necessary equipment for an employee to perform in a remote environment?  Does the employee have access to a secure internet connection for their work such as a VPN?  Security concerns may also include making sure that the employee does not share computers or devices with other family members or cohabitants.

Finally, remember that remote work may always be considered as a reasonable accommodation for a disabled employee under the Americans with Disabilities Act—but where remote work is required an employer may need to consider additional reasonable accommodations for a disabled employee.

For questions about remote work policies or other labor and employment matters, contact your DSV attorney.

***The information contained on this website is for informational purposes and is not intended as formal legal advice and cannot be relied upon as such.  No attorney client relationship is established or intended as a result of the information contained on this website.***