Considerations for California Employers Moving to a Permanent Remote Workforce

Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, approximately 3% of American businesses used remote workers on a permanent basis. Now, many companies are struggling to decide if and when they will ask their employees to return to their place of business, and some are making the choice not to return at all. If you are thinking about keeping your workforce on a remote basis permanently, you will need to revise your company’s policies and procedures to reflect this new arrangement. There are many, many legal issues to navigate involving the use of personal v.s. business-owned equipment, timekeeping requirements, OSHA compliance, insurance coverage, and more. Below are some broad policy considerations to keep in mind.

1. Lay out who can work where and in what capacity.

If you decide to maintain a meeting place for company-wide meetings, team-building exercises, or other in-person events, you will need to set rules about who can use this space and how. You also will need specific protocols if you allow some employees to work on-site or if you have some employees that simply must be physically present. Be sure to define the word “remote” as it relates to working locations as unambiguously as possible.

2. Stipulate your procedural expectations for remote employees.

How will your employees keep track of when they start and stop their work? What equipment should they use? How often should they be in communication with you? Which communication methods should they use for certain messages? These are just some of the questions your remote-work policy must answer. If you need your employees to adhere to a particular schedule, that needs to be included too. 

3. Address whether or not your employees can move to another location.

For employers, it is important to know where your employees are based because state labor laws vary. Allowing your personnel to work out-of-state can trigger many issues that can only be addressed on a case-by-case basis. At a minimum, be sure to: 

  • Look over the new location’s employment tax withholding laws;
  • Evaluate the meal and rest break options for employees who might be moving to other states; and  
  • Familiarize yourself with the relevant state’s sick leave policy requirements.

Put It in Your Handbook

Documenting your policies is crucial for defining clear expectations for your staff and maintaining good communication within your company. It also can provide you with a shield from liability should your company run into legal trouble down the road. Don’t have an employee handbook? No sweat! IGC can help. We provide deeply experienced legal counsel for businesses at any stage of their life cycle. What can we do for you?