If you have employees working from home (WFH) and haven’t updated your employee handbook for a WFH policy, now is the time.
The coronavirus sent scores of employees home to work. Prior to the pandemic, only 7% of US workers had a flexible workplace option, according to the Department of Labor. By April, over 60% of employed Americans were working from their homes, Gallup reported. And, 83% of office workers would like to continue to work from their home at least one day a week following the pandemic, PriceWaterhouseCoopers found in a recent survey.
As workspaces and places shift, companies should consider investing the time to create a strong teleworking policy that is not just pertinent for the pandemic but after as well. At a bare minimum, most WFH policies cover teleworking eligibility, employee expectations, and security.
Who and Which Positions are Eligible for WFH?
A WFH policy usually begins with eligibility requirements. Will tenure with the company or job performance be a factor? Will teleworking only be available for certain positions?
This section is the place to outline procedures for requesting to WFH. This becomes particularly important as more jobs move back to the workplace setting. Explain the application and approval process, factors to be considered, and who will be involved in the approval.
Hours, Timekeeping and Other Expectations
Work hours are the number one expectation to be included in a teleworking policy. Note the hours of the day employees are expected to work and be available. Will they will be required to follow company hours or a different schedule? If a flexible work schedule is an option, include eligibility requirements, number of hours expected to be worked each day, timekeeping responsibilities, and manager approval. If WFH will be blended, i.e., available for certain days or a particular number of days per the week, note that in the policy. If certain days must be in person, detail those as well.
Other expectations to consider covering in a WFH policy include overtime, workspace requirements, reporting details for personal injury or damage to company equipment, and protection of sensitive company information.
Equipment and Technology Requirements
Consider whether you will monitor employee laptops and other electronic devices to ensure employees are working during agreed upon hours. You might want to monitor hourly workers to keep track of overtime. If you choose to monitor, give employees notice and include this in the teleworking WFH policy.
The WFH policy usually also includes which equipment is required at home and who will provide it, including laptops, phones, office supplies and furniture. Detail who will be responsible for technical support and fixing broken equipment.
Keeping company information secure is a risk when employees work remotely. Will you prohibit offsite employees from working in public spaces, using public Wi-Fi, or using unsecured phone lines? Should an employee use a laptop dedicated to work only? Consider whether you will require employees to have a virtual private network, and note it in your policy.
Acknowledgment of Policy
As with all updates, provide a copy of the WFH policy to employees and consider having them sign an acknowledgment that they have read and understand it. Then file the acknowledgment in the employee’s file.
Employee Handbook Experts
Before writing or updating a WFH policy, consult an attorney. The experienced attorneys at InPrime Legal can help you update your handbook for the move to more remote work during the pandemic, as well as for any other COVID-19 related issues. Contact us at 770-282-8967.