When the COVID-19 pandemic first hit, many employers were forced to quickly adapt to a new way of conducting business. For many businesses, this meant allowing employees to work from home. Employers had to find ways to ensure that remote workers were still meeting the requirements expected of them while employees had to find ways to juggle emails, online discussion boards, and video conferences from their living rooms. While switching to remote work was a major adjustment for many people, employers and employees are starting to recognize the benefits of work-from-home opportunities. If you are one of the many employers who intend to continue remote work indefinitely, make sure you understand the employment law implications you may face.
Understandably, an employee’s ability to effectively conduct work duties remotely depends largely on the employee’s type of work. Some jobs are simply not suited for remote work. If some of your workers are allowed to work from home and others are not, make sure that there are documented, legitimate reasons for the differences in opportunities. Failure to do so can lead to accusations of discrimination.
Another concern employers utilizing remote workers must be aware of is timekeeping. Nonexempt employees should keep detailed records of their work hours. These hours should be regularly updated in the company’s timekeeping system. Do not let employees fall into the habit of failing to report work hours. The Fair Labor Standards Act requires employers to keep track of nonexempt employees’ work hours. Lax recordkeeping can lead to lawsuits and an employer being forced to reimburse the employee for back pay and other damages. Employers must also ensure that employees understand company policies regarding vacation time, sick days, and meal breaks.
Workers’ compensation insurance is required for businesses with one or more employees in Illinois. This requirement is not lifted if the employee works from home. Obviously, employers have very little control over the safety of a remote worker’s work environment. However, Illinois courts have held that workers’ compensation for work-from-home employees is treated the same as workers in the office or other company job site. Make sure you have adequate workers’ compensation insurance and know what to do in the event of a worker injury.
If you are an employer and you plan to continue or expand your work-from-home opportunities, make sure you remain compliant with Illinois and federal law. For help with FLSA (Fair Labor Standards Act) Litigation and other employment defense representation, contact the Miller Law Firm, P.C. Illinois employer defense lawyer Richard J. Miller can help you resolve business and employee disputes and protect your company’s future. Call 847-995-1205 today for a free consultation.