4 things to consider before starting a WFH initiative
In our last blog, we talked about 5 things to plan and analyze before you initiate a WFH policy. In this blog, we address four interrelated issues that need careful consideration.
- Equipment - It should be outlined what equipment and utilities employers and employees are responsible for providing and maintaining. Will bandwidth be a reimbursable expense? Will laptops, phones, etc. be provided by the business or will this be a BYOD project.
- Equipment maintenance - If technology is provided by the employer, what is the employee’s responsibility to keep it maintained, upgrades installed, etc. Even if you have a BYOD policy, are employees required to bring their devices in for upgrades and security checks?
- Fair Labor Standards Act - Just because an employee works from home, it doesn't mean overtime laws go out the window. The FLSA creates a framework for paying wages above the law’s definition of a 40 hour work week that includes overtime pay for work performed beyond that threshold. Under FLSA, two basic classes of workers are defined: those employees who must be paid overtime when working in excess of forty hours (non-exempt employees), and those who are not required to be compensated for work done beyond the 40 hour limit (exempt employees)
The problem FLSA presents is that non-exempt employees must be paid for all work, including any work activity outside regular working hours. An example of the liability that is created for an employer are employees who respond to texts and emails from home outside “office hours.” This is compensable work and needs to be counted under the 40 hour threshold. Policies that protect you from any violation of FLSA should be articulated clearly in writing. Because they are not physically in the building, it becomes trickier to observe and limit their work activity.
- No Silos - When developing a WFH policy, the above issue of FLSA points out that effective WFH planning and implementation requires collaboration, and not just between individual managers and employees. It is an IT issue-who is supporting all of this off-site technology and maintaining data security? It is a human resource issue-will performance measurements need to be tweaked? What about FLSA and similar laws? It is a legal issue-how is data governed by federal and state laws such as HIPAA and FERPA being handled? Is Wi-Fi permitted?
It is extremely important that companies look into the legal angle before opting for the work from home setup. WFH can prove beneficial to both the employer and the employee if planned well and implemented properly.