There are a lot of things to be said in favor of telecommuting. Well-managed telecommuting programs increase worker productivity and job satisfaction while reducing employer costs. (Fewer people in the office means you don’t use as much electricity, for instance.)
However, there are two important wage-and-hour risks that all employers who offer a telecommuting option should be aware of.
Off the Clock Work
If you have hourly or overtime-eligible salaried employees working remotely, you need to be extra-careful tracking their time. Regardless of where or when they work, you’re still required to pay them overtime when they work more than 40 hours in a week.
When someone’s working from home, it can be tempting for them to “take care of this one thing real quick,” or just “jump onto email for a second” — but all too often that “second” turns into minutes or even hours. If your employees don’t accurately track their time, you can’t pay them correctly.
- Make sure your time tracking system is quick and easy to use for clocking in and out. You don’t want to give employees any excuse for not recording their time.
- Establish (and enforce!) a policy that employees must clock in whenever they start work, and clock out when they stop, regardless of where they’re working or how short a period of time they think they’re going to be working. Make sure your employees and supervisors know you have zero tolerance for off-the-clock work.
The Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) requires all employers to keep complete payroll records, including hours worked by all overtime-eligible employees. Failure to maintain these records can result in significant penalties and fines — above and beyond any penalties for failure to pay employees correctly — if the Department of Labor selects you for an inspection (or if your business is the subject of a complaint).
But we all know this can be tricky when employees are working from home or other remote locations. Making sure everyone submits timesheets by the deadline every pay period can turn into a real hassle.
- Use a centralized time tracking system, such as our AcroTime online time clock. Employees can easily clock in and out using a web browser, with the smartphone app, or (if you’ve enabled this option) using any telephone, even a standard landline phone. The records are all maintained centrally, so supervisors can review and approve timesheets no matter where they’re working. You can process all timesheets from this central database from where ever you are working, and export data quickly and accurately into your payroll processing system. All without anyone having to come in to the office!
With just a little planning (and some help from AcroTime), managing your telecommuting employees’ time can be hassle-free.