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Do Employment Laws Apply to Remote Workers?

At the height of the pandemic, numerous businesses were forced to close their offices. However, certain businesses did not have to shut down and by using improved technology and communications, they were able to conduct business with little interruption. The push toward an increase in remote working was on the rise prior to the pandemic, although it certainly hastened the move and demonstrated its practicality to several businesses.

Whenever the pandemic ends, it is unclear what businesses will look like. Many see the benefits and savings of having their employees work remotely and continue to utilize that model. However, as more businesses utilize remote workers, they must continue to follow state employment laws where they are physically working.

Can State Laws Impact an Employee’s Pay?

A person’s salary can be impacted by the state they are living in, as well as the amount of hours they can work in a week. An employer should become familiar with the rules in the states of their employees. Some aspects of pay that could be impacted include:

  • Minimum wage: Some states have adopted a higher minimum wage than others. It is important to know that an employee is making enough to satisfy their state’s requirement.
  • Overtime: State laws determine when an employee becomes eligible for overtime. Employers must verify that employees are tracking their hours to confirm if they are eligible for overtime.
  • Telecommuting expenses: Not every state requires an employer to reimburse an employee for telecommuting expenses. However, there can be some unintended consequences for those companies that fail to offer reimbursements, such as expenses that drop an employee’s hourly wage below the state’s requirement.

What are Certain Leave Issues Employers Should Consider?

Even though an employee is working from home, it does not mean that they are no longer eligible to accrue sick time or take time off work for extended medical absences. On a federal level, the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) still applies. In addition, most states have their own medical and family leave polices as well that the company must adhere to. Sick time is mandated by the state where an employee is physically working, which could raise some disparity among employees working in various states.

Are Employers Required to Distribute Notices?

Certain state laws require employers to provide notices to their employees. In many cases, some of these notices take place at the time of hire, while some occur annually. The documents can address different topics such as wage, leave/benefits notifications, or descriptions about anti-harassment or discrimination laws. Employees should consider the home state of the new employee and its applicable laws.

Certain employment laws require employers to physically display posters around the office to inform employees about certain laws and policies, such as wage and hour laws and anti-discrimination provisions. An electronic version of the poster may be more relevant to employees for certain companies working remotely. Additionally, state-mandated training applies to certain state employees.

What About Different State Laws?

To protect themselves moving forward, employers should conduct a thorough audit of all their employees and the states that they reside and work in. They should determine how long they intend to allow their employees to telecommute and if that delay is worth it. If a company is dedicated to telecommuting for the foreseeable future, it might want to consider putting together individualized employee handbooks based on their state of residence. Even if telecommuting is not in the company’s long-term plan, it makes sense to provide employees with at least a temporary teleworking arrangement.

Philadelphia Employment Lawyers at Sidkoff, Pincus & Green P.C. Help Employers and Employees Understand Changing Employment Laws During the Pandemic

Given the number of employees who are working from home right now, employment laws have become much more complicated. If you need legal help sifting through the different laws, reach out to the Philadelphia employment lawyers at Sidkoff, Pincus & Green P.C. today. Call us at 215-574-0600 or contact us online to get started. Located in Philadelphia, we serve clients throughout Pennsylvania and South Jersey.