By Lon Leneve
Working from home has become a widespread practice with current estimates at somewhere between 20 and 30 million employees telecommuting. Both the advantages and disadvantages of this flexible work arrangement are numerous. But in order to determine if telecommuting will work, management should be aware of the roadblocks and create solutions before extending a telecommuting benefit to employees.
Some typical telecommuting issues and ways to solve them:
• Setting remote employees up as private contractors. Often managers decide rather than go through the hassle of setting up an employee to work from home; they’ll instead make the person a private contractor. The test to be truly considered an independent contractor, as a legal matter, is quite high and is much more than just a different label for the same employee.
Solution: Research your local laws on independent contractors. Often it’s best to leave an employee as an employee versus a contractor.
• Maintenance of proper and necessary employment records. Items like hours worked, records, minimum wage compliance etc. are still important, perhaps more so, when an employee works from home.
Solution: Track hours worked and expenses incurred for a telecommuter the same way you would for an in-house employee. Work-from-home employees should be held to the same standard, especially in regard to time off the clock.
• Lack of process for confidentiality of records and information. A large part of our business includes the transfer of third party information. The question that arises is whether the process by which the telecommuter is accessing the records and data itself is secure.
Solution: Ensure encryption encoding is being used. Insist the employee change passwords frequently. Create restricting covenants that protect sensitive data and safeguard third party information.
Last and perhaps most importantly, ensure you document the policies. Have the employee agree to them with a signature on the contract. The signed document should not only establish the parameters of the arrangement, but also the rights relevant to the two parties in the agreement.
All the issues discussed in this article are addressed in Compli’s “Social Media in the Workplace-Are You Protected” Webinar featuring guest speaker Chris Hoffman, Partner at Fisher & Philips, LLP. Watch for free.