How are companies navigating the shift to a remote workforce?
To slow the spread of the virus, many companies have instructed employees to work from home. And as states have announced school closures, some extending through the end of this school year, employers are having to adjust or relax their telework rules to accommodate employees juggling caregiving and work.
Shifting to a largely remote workforce is raising some new concerns and potential legal issues for employers. For example, navigating how to monitor productivity without running the risk of lawsuits over handling more sensitive employee data.
Telework also raises the possibility of wage and hour battles, or conflicts related to overtime pay. “We live in a world where you can telework, but at the same time, employers need to be careful to have strict guidelines in place. This could lead to pitfalls for companies,” said Garrett Broshuis, an attorney in St. Louis with Korein Tillery, who represents workers.
The Labor Department recently offered new guidance regarding elements of wage and hour rules through 15 questions and answers that address a range of scenarios and concerns, including those related to teleworking.
Meanwhile, unions and management may be navigating new territory. Only about 3.9% of union contracts in the past five years mention “telecommuting,” “telework,” or “work from home,” according to an analysis of more than 4,300 documents in Bloomberg Law’s library of collective bargaining agreements.
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