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Work From Home Laws in California

Posted on November 14, 2018 | Firm News

With more people working remotely from home, it’s important to know the laws in your state and how they pertain to you as an employee. Remote workers have the same rights as those who work in traditional offices, though some exceptions do exist for these situations. If you’re a telecommuter and are unsure of your rights, talk to a Los Angeles employment lawyer.

Nationwide, California has some of the strongest laws for the protection of employee rights than anywhere in the country. It also has some of the longest commutes for Americans. Many companies are offering the option of working remotely to employees as a way to reduce traffic congestion and air pollution, and as a way to lower the cost of operating a traditional office. Working at home can also reduce absenteeism, promote wellness and good health, improve employee retention and help the work life of those with physical disabilities.

The California Department of Human Resources (CalHR) believes the option to work remotely has great benefits for California State employees, which is why they have encouraged remote work in certain positions. CalHR also feels that the communication between employers and other employees is key to an effective home-work environment.

Challenges With Remote Work in California

Though this governing body sets an example for proper remote work practices, not all companies who hire telecommuters do the same. Some will treat employees as freelance contractors but expect workers to clock in like a traditional job. These situations can make it difficult for some employees because they must pay California taxes and federal taxes as both employee and employer. It’s a work-around many businesses have found as a money saving practice – but it’s against the law and they could incur severe penalties from the IRS. If you find yourself working with a business who engages in this practice, talk with one of our lawyers.

Best Practices for Telecommuters

If you work from home, you may be confused about your rights. Know that you still have the protection of the federal Fair Labor Standards Act as well as all California wage and hourly laws. If you are a telecommuter, make sure to discuss company policies with an attorney who understands the complications of this type of law. Policies should explain:

  • How many hours an employee should work and how flexible the schedule is
  • The importance of accurately recording the hours per project
  • What accounts for attendance
  • Termination policies
  • Any company non-compete or non-disclosure policies
  • Device use/protection

Flexible work arrangements can benefit both employees and employers, but what rights do workers have regarding benefits? In California, the law entitles remote workers to the following:

  • Daily Overtime Pay. California employees must receive overtime pay and double-time pay after shifts of eight and 12 hours, respectively, in accordance with the law.
  • Alternative Work Weeks. Employees have the right to waive overtime pay if they choose to go on a flex schedule, with alternative workweeks. This would be between the employee and the employer.
  • Meal and rest breaks. Non-exempt employees should take rest breaks during their shift.
  • Business expense reimbursement. This can get sticky for remote work arrangements. Employers must reimburse employees for any business expenses that they incur. This might include unforeseen costs with extra computer expenses and WiFi equipment.
  • Making up missed work. In California, an employee can request to make up missed work. Employees must make up work in the same week he or she missed it and is completely voluntary on behalf of the employee.

There are other considerations to take into account when working as a remote employee in California. Because options for scheduling can be so varied, making sure you get proper payment for time is crucial. If the company you work for is based in another state, you may need to be aware of those laws, as well as employment laws that vary among states.