For New York businesses that are continuing to use remote work platforms to accommodate changing workforce needs, finding ways to accurately track nonexempt worker’s remote hours continues to be a significant challenge. A hybrid work environment that allows employees to manage hours either at the office or at home can be successful, but only if the reporting is accurate.
To facilitate the recording procedure, the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) has provided guidance to employers on how to reliably monitor unscheduled remote work hours. As telecommuting may be here to stay in many economic sectors, businesses can benefit from these tips, which are also helpful to employers wary of accusations of wage theft violations.
For example, one recommendation suggests that, rather than spend hours looking through IT records to verify figures, it is better to rely on employees to follow already established reporting procedures regarding the record-keeping and payment of compensable hours.
How does DOL guidance insulate employers against wage theft claims?
Under DOL guidance, the employer should use reasonable diligence to oversee nonexempt remote work hours. Keeping records of work-issued electronic devices in use outside a worker’s reported hours is a relatively simple measure that protects employers against accusations of wage theft. To be successful, a wage theft claim would need to effectively challenge this standard of reasonable diligence.
The employee’s obligation to report unscheduled work hours as outlined in company procedure also shields the employer from liability should the employee not receive compensation for unreported hours. That being said, there are situations where it is advisable to follow up on telecommuter records, such as:
- Leading up to important deadlines
- Higher seasonable work demand
Reasonable diligence, however, does not require that employers must go to unreasonable lengths to track these hours at the company’s expense.
How should employers limit nonexempt hours?
Putting caps on remote hours means establishing guidelines that limit unscheduled work hours for nonexempt employees. Company policy would address this by requiring these workers to get prior approval to work unscheduled hours, and that a failure to follow procedure could result in disciplinary action.