California’s laws governing wages and other employment issues are not confined within a traditional office or work structure. Employers must deal with the recent rise in remote or telework and assure they are complying with wage and hour laws. The obstacles to supervising workers in remote locations does not eliminate the possibility of employment litigation for violations.
It is essential to accurately track all the hours worked by nonexempt remote employees. Existing software allows accurate recording of the hours worked. Remote employees should have access to this software or other timekeeping systems on their remote devices so employers can accurately track their work hours on a daily and weekly basis.
California requires that nonexempt workers have an uninterrupted meal break of at least 30 minutes which must start less than five hours into their shift. A nonexempt employee with a total daily work time of at least 3½ hours are allowed a rest break of at least 10 net minutes for every four hours worked or a major fraction of those hours.
It is harder to monitor employees at remote locations to assure that they are taking required breaks. A strong meal and rest break policy and specific remote work rules, however, can help reinforce these rules.
It is also important to track and pay for overtime hours because California requires payment of all overtime hours that an employee worked. The overtime rate is 1.5 times the worker’s pay rate for all hours worked over 8 hours in a workday or 40 hours in a work week even if the overtime work was unapproved.
Employers must reimburse exempt and nonexempt employees for all necessary expenses incurred when doing their jobs. These include use of the employee’s personal cell phone, computer services and other service or supplies required for their remote work.
Employers can reduce these reimbursement expenses by providing computers, laptops, printers, phones, and other equipment required for telework. This would eliminate or lower the worker’s need to use their personal devices.
Employers who establish a remote work and telecommuting policy should communicate their expectations and requirements to remote workers. These policies can help assure that remote employees keep accurate records of their work hours.
Additionally, it may be helpful to have remote workers sign a telecommuting agreement. This could contain their work schedule, break and meal requirements, restrictions and whether they need approval for overtime work.
An attorney can help employers develop policies and comply with wage and hour laws. They can also represent them in investigations and legal proceedings.