The Working World Has Gone Remote

Remote work has become the norm during this Covid-19 crisis.

Many employers have allowed their employees to work from home over the past several months. And, it looks as if this trend could continue for some time. Some of these same employers are considering whether “work from home” could or should become permanent for certain positions within their company.  

According to Brian Kropp of Gartner, a research and advisory firm in Arlington, Virginia “We have a set of people who have never worked from home along with…. a set of managers who have never managed people working from home. What is needed is a “set of guidelines and norms for people managing and working in a brand-new way.”  

Listed below are items that employers must consider when using Remote Workers. The list is by no means comprehensive but it does consider some of the most important HR & Legal considerations: 

 1) Cybersecurity  

According to William Altman, Senior Analyst at the Global Cyber Center of NYC, it is important to consider both your “security practitioner as well as ethical-hacker perspectives in order to stay secure.” Make certain that your Remote Workers know signs of a cyber breach: programs that were not installed suddenly appear, the computer slows down, odd pop-up ads appear on the screen and loss of control of the mouse or keyboard.  

Home Wi-Fi Security is of utmost importance. Employees’ home networks have weaker protocols than exists in the office environment. This can allow hackers to access the network’s traffic more easily.  

Remote Workers need to be aware of Phishing Scams: Hackers are good at sending emails that appear legitimate, but have malicious links & attachments. If your Remote Worker clicks on one of these attachments, the hacker can get access to the employer’s device.  

Insecure Passwords invite Hackers into your system. Make sure your employees are creating secure passwords that are difficult to “crack.”  Allowing them to use the same password across several platforms is also not advised-this could allow hackers unauthorized access to multiple accounts.  

  

2) Legal and Compliance

The first step is to read the Families First Coronavirus Response Act to make sure you have a clear understanding. And, it is important to have a good labor attorney to consult should questions arise. One of the most obvious compliance issues involves the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) and workers who are not exempt from overtime requirements. According to Gregory Abrams, an attorney in the Chicago office of Faegre Drinker, employers need to ensure that hourly employees know “the number of hours they are expected to work, what they should do if they need to work outside of scheduled work hours, how to report time, and how to communicate about unanticipated overtime.”  

It is important to create work-from-home policies and procedures that follow applicable laws. Make sure your company is basing its decision to use Remote Workers on a department or position basis rather than on an individual basis. Deciding whether workers will be allowed to work remotely must be made in an anti-discriminatory manner. Certain employees may qualify for paid leave if they are not allowed to telework. Employees who suffer from a disability may be entitled to accommodations that could include remote work under the ADA. As an employer, your decision to allow some employees to work remotely while others cannot, must be made in a non-discriminatory manner or you could be in violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.  

3) Technology and Equipment 

Employers need to have a clear policy in place on the equipment and resources they are willing to provide to the Remote Worker. According to Kropp, “Both employees and employers must agree on what each is expected to deliver.” Here are some of the topics for consideration: 

  • Who supplies the cost of the home technology? 
  • Who is responsible for laptops & video conferencing tools? 
  • What about office supplies, phone service, shipping, and home-office modifications 

While remote work has become the norm during this COVID-19 crisis, it’s something we can tackle together. For more information or to get in touch with someone on or staff, please email [email protected]

Resources

https://www.shrm.org/hr-today/news/hr-news/pages/remote-work-policies-should-now-stress-flexibility.aspx

https://www.forbes.com/sites/carrierubinstein/2020/04/10/beware-remote-work-involves-these-3-cyber-security-risks/#4722488861c4

https://www.dol.gov/agencies/whd/pandemic/ffcra-employee-paid-leave