Telecommuting is becoming more and more popular in Wisconsin and around the country. The number of Americans who telecommute has more than doubled since 2005, and this rate of growth is expected to accelerate in the years ahead as so-called Millennials become a more dominant part of the workforce. Allowing employees to work from home provides employers with a number of benefits, but it can sometimes be challenging for them to comply with federal hour and wage laws like the Fair Labor Standards Act.
Laws like the FLSA require employers to keep accurate records of the hours their employees work and pay overtime rates when workweeks stretch beyond 40 hours. For telecommuting workers, employers may provide daily or weekly time sheets that must be completed and signed. This can be done electronically or with paper time cards. Companies that allow employees to work from home should also draft policies that clearly indicate what activities workers will be compensated for.
Employers should also keep track of how much their telecommuting workers spend on work-related expenses such as their phone and Internet use. Employers are required to pay their workers at least the minimum wage, which for 2016 is $7.25 in Wisconsin, and they should be aware of situations where the compensation paid to telecommuting workers falls below this threshold after deducting their business-related expenses.
Those who work from home are sometimes unaware that they may be protected by the same employment laws as traditional workers. Attorneys with experience in this area could take action on behalf of workers when their rights under state or federal laws are being violated.