In recent month, we have seen a growing focus on remote employees and remote work. Due to the advantages that remote work can offer both employers and employees, this is most likely a sign of things to come. However, it’s important for everyone to understand the legal issues at play.
State and federal laws impact every employment situation. As you change an employment situation, moving it from the office to the home or elsewhere, you want to understand how the structural change impacts the legal relationship.
Minimize your legal concerns to maximize your benefits
In 2019, the Harvard Business Review reported on a study that contradicted many of the fears business managers and owners might have about remote work. While they might worry their workers would be less effective outside the office, the study found that remote workers were actually more effective. The study found that patent examiners who worked remotely completed 4.4% more than their office-bound peers.
It also found that remote employment:
- Allowed workers to move to less expensive areas, increasing their effective salaries at no cost to their employers
- Significantly reduced the harmful emissions tied to the daily commute
- Is likely to prove more effective for people with certain positions and temperaments than others
Of course, remote employment can also cut down on your office overhead. But failing to mind the legal aspect of the remote work relationship could lead to serious problems. They could easily offset all your potential gains.
As Forbes notes, the novel legal issues associated with remote employment include:
- Your remote work policy, which should both set expectations for your employees and detail the steps your business will take to comply with the law
- Your business contracts, which need to reflect the realities of the remote employment arrangement
- Your compliance with data security laws
- The labor laws for your state, as well as those for the states or countries in which your employees are working
- Whether you can truly pay workers as contractors or if you must bring them in as full employees
- How remote employment may expose your business to workplace safety rules and violations
And this isn’t even an exhaustive list. Your concerns may very well increase or vary according to the nature of your business. Forbes speculates that more than one corporate legal team will end up putting in some heavy overtime just to keep pace with the transition from the standard office model to the remote employment model.
Equip your business to meet the future head-on
Remote employment appears to be the way of the future. Nearly half of all workers and employers have at least dabbled in it. And the advantages of remote employment aren’t limited solely to the large corporations with the legal teams ready to shape their transitions. Your business might also benefit, even if you need help to comply with all the relevant laws.
Revising your policies and contracts may take time. But when your competitors start switching to remote employment, can you afford to stay rooted in the past?