Employer Responsibility with Employees Working from Home

Work from Home Telework

The COVID-19 pandemic is unprecedented in modern America for many reasons, but one of the most impactful effects has been the forced closure of offices across the country. 

This didn’t mean business necessarily stopped; it meant employers and employees had to find new solutions if they wanted to keep going. For many, this meant working from home, with entire companies teleworking en masse for the first time.

Such a large transition brought with it many questions: Are employees paid the same to work from home? Do businesses have to cover the additional costs to set them up to work at home? What about the U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), do those rules still apply?

According to the Fair Labor Standards Act, employers must pay non-exempt employees at least minimum wage for hours worked, and time-and-a-half for overtime. Salaried employees, or those with contracts or union rights or a qualified disability, are legally entitled to their full pay, with very few exceptions.

As for paying for additional home set up, such as internet access or increased use of electricity, it’s up to the employer to cover those costs. Employers may not require employees to reimburse them for these payments if doing so reduces the employees pay to below minimum wage.

And OSHA itself doesn’t have rules about teleworking, and won’t conduct investigations into home office environments nor follow up on specific complaints.  There are certainly more questions surrounding working from home and legal responsibilities. At Terrazas Henkel, P.C., our experienced attorneys can help guide you through these regulations, as an employer or an employee, with special attention paid to both federal and Montana state law. Give us a call at 406-541-2550 to set up an appointment.