Monitoring the work day is easy when everyone is all in one place, but for many businesses, remote work is now part of our “new normal.” Without a clear start and end to the day there are compliance challenges with wage and hour laws. Wage and hour lawsuits continue to grow at a significant rate, so it is more important than ever to stay compliant.
Here is a checklist to identify some of the most common trouble areas and fix them before your business becomes the latest target.
Timekeeping and Hours Worked
Do you have systems in place to track all hours worked for nonexempt employees, especially if hours vary due to family care needs?
Does your employee handbook have a policy in place prohibiting “off the clock” work including volunteering to stay late to complete a project even after a scheduled shift has ended?
- Is this policy communicated regularly to employees and managers?
- Have employees signed an acknowledgement regarding the policy?
- Is this policy enforced?
- In the event the policy is violated, are nonexempt employees paid even for work that was not requested or even authorized? (Note: Although employees who work without their employer’s authorization must be paid, they may be subject to discipline.)
Do timekeeping systems round employees’ work time to an interval no greater than the nearest quarter-hour?
- Does any rounding average out over time to count as hours worked all the time the employees have actually worked?
Do time clocks, time keeping apps, or other timekeeping methods precisely record all of employees’ working time?
- Are there no major discrepancies between the reported time and actual hours worked?
- NC doesn’t require meal breaks for any employee 16 or over. Generally, breaks of less than 30 minutes, such as a 15-minute rest break, have to be paid by the employer. Are your employees tracking and recording lunch breaks 30 minutes or longer?
Are nonexempt employees paid for any time spent in training sessions or work-related meetings?
Are all records required for nonexempt employees accurately kept and maintained, including the hours worked each workday and the total hours worked each workweek?
Are all records required for exempt employees accurately kept and maintained?
- Note: Although employers do not need to track the hours worked by most exempt employees, an employer may require exempt employees to record and track hours in an effort to limit damages in the event of a misclassification lawsuit.
Have employees’ job duties changed as a result of them working remotely?
- For example, are overtime-exempt employees no longer overseeing the work of two or more full-time employees because their division was downsized? Or are overtime-exempt administrative employees’ spending more and more time on routine tasks rather than significant matters? If so, consider whether it is necessary to reclassify them.
Business Expense Reimbursement
Are remote employees using their own equipment or services – such as a home internet connection, a cell phone, or a home printer – to perform work?
- While NC doesn’t require that employees be reimbursed for these expenses, it encourages employee retention if you do so.
- If you do reimburse expenses, do your employees keep a record of all expenses and submit timely expense reports?
Help your employees understand how to work effectively and compliantly in the new world of remote work. Putting good systems and policies in place upfront is a great way to keep your business safe.
Kate Wells is an experienced small business owner and HR expert. She works as Chief HR Officer for small and startup businesses who need HR expertise without the HR employee overhead. Her greatest joy is in setting employers and employees up for success. Knowledgeable in the ways of business and people she is a consultant who rolls up her sleeves and gets stuff done, while also acting as a trusted sounding board for business owners. Kate has two adult daughters, a lifetime sweetheart, and enjoys hiking, road biking, kayaking, reading, jigsaw puzzles, and laughter.
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