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Do Your Company’s Remote-Work Policies Comply with California’s Wage Law?

In the past year, more companies have turned to remote work and for many of those companies, remote work is now permanent. If you are in California, how do you know if your company is complying with the state’s wage law?

At-Will Status

Every state except Montana is an “at-will” state. This means that an employee can be terminated at any time for any reason. Most employees sign a contract acknowledging this when they are hired. While someone is working remotely they are still considered an at-will employee.

Even though an employee is working from home, their company is still expected to fulfill time off and benefits that were offered before. This includes lunch breaks, sick time, and other paid time off.

Disabilities and Working From Home

If an employee has disabilities that were accommodated while at their employer’s office, similar arrangements are expected to be at the employee’s home. However, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission views working from home as a reasonable accommodation.

Keeping Track of Hours and Overtime

When in an office, it’s easy to know when an employee shows up on time or stays late and therefore earns overtime. It’s much more difficult when that employee is now working from home to keep track of those hours. That’s why it’s crucial for employers to set guidelines of how their employees should keep track of their time working.

Many employers use internet-based apps where an employee can indicate how much time they’ve worked for the day. This could include coming up with a document in Google Sheets or using an online time tracker. Other employers use the websites where they are already keeping payroll information such as ADP or Paycor. By having these systems online, an employee, no matter where they are in the country, will be able to clock in, clock out, and submit their time information correctly.

When it comes to calculating overtime, using the same time management system is most likely the easiest route for both employees and employers. Usually, an employee who works more than 40 hours a week is entitled to overtime pay under the Fair Labor Standards Act. In California, the law also states that if an employee works more than eight hours in one day that they are entitled to overtime. This means even if an employee works four ten-hour shifts, that the company would be paying two hours of overtime each day.

Expenses Reimbursement

When working at an office, an employee is usually given access to a company computer, phone, and doesn’t need to worry about paying the internet bill. That’s not always the case when an employee works from home. Currently, most companies are not giving reimbursements to employees for internet access. This is because a home’s internet connection is usually used for more than an employee’s work. The wi-fi in a house can connect to televisions, cell phones, and other smart home devices. The personal use of the internet could happen simultaneously when an employee is trying to work (for example someone else in the home streaming a show on the TV while the employee is working). Because of this reason, it is impossible to separate what is internet usage for work and what is internet usage for personal use.

It should be noted, though, that the California Labor Code does require reimbursement to workers for reasonable business expenses. This means that if an employee were to use their personal phone for work-related purposes, they could receive a reimbursement. However, employees should read their companies policies about reimbursements before expecting to receive a payout.

When you have questions about California’s wage laws, contact a team that will protect your rights. At Cohelan Khoury & Singer, employment law is our specialty and we’ve helped others who are working from home make sure they are properly compensated for the work they put in. Contact our office today to see how we can help you.

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