Manage Telecommuters

Key Points

  • The option to telecommute can boost employee productivity and morale, and increase employee retention. A telecommuting option allows employees to respond to medical or caregiver situations, and is an option for an employer to reasonably accommodate employees with disabilities. Telecommuting options may also be extended as a perk to top-performing or long-tenured workers.
  • Be sure to develop policies and procedures addressing potential telecommuting challenges or abuses and enforce these uniformly. Enact policies that detail what equipment will be provided to a telecommuter, as well as which expenses will be reimbursed (e.g., mileage, telephone, supplies, shipping). Include provisions regarding the return of employer property from a telecommuter leaving the organization. Enforce discipline in a fair manner and consistently among all employees, including telecommuters.
  • Keep in mind that the penalties for nonconformance with applicable laws are the same for telecommuting employees as for any other employees. Recognize that telecommuters have the same duties and responsibilities under various federal and state laws as do other employees, including discrimination, retaliation and whistleblower protections; federal and state wage and hour regulations; and workers' compensation laws. Managing exempt telecommuting employees may prove less complex than managing nonexempt employees, which could require additional safeguards for timekeeping and overtime expenditures.
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