It’s important to keep in mind that when having a nonexempt employee work remotely, your obligations under California’s wage and hour laws remain the same. As such, you need to ensure you have measures in place to maintain accurate records of the employees’ hours worked. Now that more employees becoming remote workers due to the pandemic, it is necessary to discuss their wage considerations.
It is necessary to accurately track all hours worked by your nonexempt remote employees. In addition, employees should take required meal and rest breaks, get paid for any overtime hours and do not engage in “off-the-clock” work (there is no such thing in California).
Establishing a remote work/telecommuting policy is a great way to communicate your expectations to your remote employees. This is particularly true when it comes to keeping an accurate record of their hours worked. These include overtime, as well as taking their appropriate meal and rest breaks.
In addition to having a telecommuting policy, you may choose to have your remote employees sign a telecommuting agreement. Here, they can acknowledge their work schedule and other parameters within the telecommuting policy itself, such as whether they need approval to work overtime.
Many employers already use some type of software that allows them to accurately record hours worked by an employee.
Make sure your remote employees have access to your software or timekeeping system on their remote devices. With this, you can accurately track and monitor your remote employees’ daily and weekly hours worked.
Meal and Rest Breaks
In California, nonexempt employees’ uninterrupted meal break of at least 30 minutes must begin no later than 4 hours and 59 minutes into their shift. Additionally, a nonexempt employee whose total daily work time is at least 3.5 hours should take a rest break of at least 10 “net” minutes for every four hours worked, or “major fraction thereof.”
There are challenges to monitoring breaks, since remote employees aren’t supervised in the same way that an on-site employee is. In addition to having your standard meal and rest break policy to combat the challenges, employees must take their uninterrupted, off-duty meal and rest breaks.
Aside from ensuring that remote employees take their meal and breaks, you also need to track for overtime hours worked.
As a reminder, California law requires all overtime hours to be paid (1.5 times the employee’s regular rate of pay for all hours worked beyond 8 hours in a workday or 40 hours in a work week), even if that time was not approved.
You must have a clearly written telecommuting policy and agreement in place to manage the work schedule of your remote workers and expectations regarding overtime wage considerations.
Business Expenses Reimbursements
Employers must reimburse employees for all “necessary expenditures or losses incurred” in the performance of their job. (Labor Code Section 2802). This could include an employee’s personal cell phone, computer equipment, or supplies required for a remote employee to work.
A clearly written telecommuting policy can help establish guidelines surrounding which expenses are reimbursable. It is also necessary to provide a method for employees to submit for reimbursement. Another approach might be to provide all necessary equipment for a remote worker, such as computers/laptops, printers and a phone. These could eliminate or reduce an employee’s need to use personal devices.