Telecommute to work: Six Tips For Employers

Telecommute to work: Six Tips For EmployersTechnology has made many work schedules more flexible. Employees don’t necessarily have to be at the office to get work done and communicate with co-workers and their boss.

Some businesses have experimented with telecommuting to allow employees with a long commute or other demanding responsibilities work at home. With these options available, employees have started to want to clock in from home when they have had to stay home sick or take care of a sick child.

This can be a win-win situation for the employer and the employee if it is done right. It could also lead to poor work productivity or employee’s not being able to recover from an illness because they feel pressure to work from home. With this in mind, here are six tips for employers to effectively handle this issue.

1. Health Comes First

The first thing employers need to remember is that sick days were created so the employee can get better. Thus, any policy affecting sick days should take this into consideration. If an employer starts creating a culture where an employee knows they still have to clock in from home when they are sick, the purpose of the sick day is not being met. The employer could be setting itself up for a potential lawsuit. In addition, if employees aren’t allowed to rest, they won’t recover as quickly and productivity will be slowed considerably.

2. Push for Balance

When employees ask to telecommute when they are sick, seek to keep a balance of allowing the employee to recover and allowing them to save a sick day for a more urgent occasion. If the worker has a small cold that sends them home early, continuing to work from home is probably a good idea. On the other hand, an employee with a high fever will need time off to recover and probably won’t be up to working.

3. Have a Set Telecommute Approval Process

To keep things legal and fair, create a set process for approving employees to telecommute to save on a sick day. Employees should contact their direct manager to request permission to clock in from home. Managers can then use their best judgment based off of the projects assigned to the employee and how sick the employee is to grant approval. Everything should be documented through email or another written document. HR can help regulate the process by creating recommendations for managers across the board, and managers should let HR know when an employee is approved to telecommute.

Managers should keep in mind that while some employees will use this system to show their dedication to their work, others may try to use it to hit the beach in the morning and then log in to work in the afternoon. Be sure to quickly take care of any indiscretions and to make it clear to employees that using the program when they aren’t really sick will not be tolerated.

4. Telecommute Exempt vs. Nonexempt Employees

Another legal hangup employers should consider is the difference between exempt and nonexempt employees. Exempt employees must be paid the same salary amount every week regardless of when and how much they work. This means that if an exempt employee goes home early with a cold, they can’t be docked pay like a nonexempt employee can. Exempt employees may decide to telecommute to help keep up with their workload, but employers will have to consider the impact on work quality and employee health. Exempt employees may also have a bank of sick days they can take, but even if that bank goes negative, pay cannot be docked.

5. Pay for Telecommute Work Done

If an employee doesn’t get approval to telecommute but still clocks in from home and works, the company is required to pay that employee for their work. This is called the “permitted or suffered” policy, which basically means that even if the employer didn’t “permit” the work, the employer must still pay for the work that was “suffered.” There are ways for employers to address this issue by having a reprimand policy and updating employees regularly about what is allowed and what isn’t when it comes to clocking in.

6. Recognize Dedication

It’s important for employers to recognize the dedication of their employees through a good employee recognition program. This doesn’t necessarily mean rewarding everyone who shows up on time, but if an employee goes out of their way to complete an important project even though they’re homesick it is nice to get a thank you. Allowing telecommuting to employees who have worked a certain amount of time at a company is another way to recognize service, much like service awards that are given out at career milestones.

Robert Cordray

Robert Cordray

I'm a business owner and entrepreneur turned freelance writer who enjoys writing about business, and Technology. I have experience in writing software, mobile app development, and information systems.

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