Fears surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic have largely subsided over the past few months. As a result, many employers have asked their workers to return full-time to the office. Yet remote work still remains a valid and widely approved, option at many California businesses. So, too, does hybrid work, in which some days are worked from home and others in the office.
Remote and hybrid work schedules are relatively new in the American workplace, at least to the extent they’re being used. But these policies present potential legal challenges to California businesses. Fraigun Law Group provides exceptional employment law guidance.
From Remote to Hybrid Work: Changing Employee Attitudes
During the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, employers were forced to allow remote work. As late as September 2020, according to Gallup, up to 45% of full-time employees worked fully or partially from home. Nearly 80% of white-collar workers were fully or partially remote at that time. By May of 2021, over 90% of workers wanted to keep some form of remote work, even as pandemic fears lessened.
Many employees still want what is known as a hybrid policy. By this, they mean being allowed to work both at home and in the office. An employer may permit up to 2-3 days of work from home, with the balance done at the office. The bottom line is that even with the pandemic effectively over, employees still want remote and hybrid options. Employers would be wise to take note of this and consider adopting remote and hybrid schedules.
Legal Issues that Could Arise with Remote and Hybrid Schedules
But adopting these policies must be done carefully. A prime reason is that people who work for California-based businesses often work in different states. When this happens, interstate issues can arise with respect to the following:
An employee’s home and work office may be in two different states. That means the employer needs to be mindful of both states’ employment laws. In some circumstances, the laws are nearly identical. In others, the differences come down to degrees (i.e., one state’s employment laws are stricter than the other’s). And in other cases, the laws are completely different. These are some interstate employment law matters that employers must be careful to properly handle:
- Minimum wage rules
- Overtime requirements
- Family, medical, and other types of employee leave
- Privacy protections
A similar challenge comes up with respect to taxes, especially withholding rules. The employer may need to register its business with another state’s taxing authorities. Not withholding employee taxes can quickly subject a business to legal headaches.
Discrimination and reasonable accommodation law. Where many employers get in trouble is their attempts to force certain groups to work from home. This can implicate laws meant to protect employees from discrimination. But the situation gets more complex with respect to reasonable accommodation requirements. An employer may have to allow work from home for certain groups in some circumstances. Avoiding discrimination, while respecting an employee’s right to reasonable accommodation, can be tricky.
Let Our Team Guide Your California Business
In just the last few years, remote and hybrid work policies have proven to have various benefits. They protect employee health while boosting workers’ morale. It’s become clear that employees expect at least a hybrid option. But employers must follow state and federal laws in offering remote and hybrid schedules. Let Fraigun Law Group advise your business on how to adopt policies that protect your rights and interests. Call us today.