With increasing demand from employees for remote work or “work from home” arrangements, it is important for employers to have clear remote work policies and agreements in place, to set the requirements, responsibilities and expectations of the company and remote work employees. Clear policies also provide legal protections for employers, setting company-wide standards to avoid potential discrimination claims, and providing protection for company (and customer) confidential information, intellectual property and trade secrets. What should be included in those documents?
Remote work policy
A remote work policy sets the company-wide rules and requirements for remote work and should include:
- Which positions/workers are eligible
- Duration, day and time limitations
- Required remote office set-up
- Applicability of existing employer policies, practices and instructions
- Changes to existing policies, practices and instructions (such as dress codes, meeting and technology security requirements)
- Work schedule and required times of availability, including meal and rest breaks (for non-exempt employees). Prohibit off-the-clock work and overtime without prior approval
- Responsibilities of the remote worker during remote work days
- Procedures and policy for checking in and best contact method; participation in regularly scheduled meetings
- How communication will be handled; what tools will be used for communication and collaboration
- How meetings with customers, clients or other third-parties will be handled
- Employer paid expenses and any employee documentation requirements (i.e. internet, phone, remote-office rent, any relocation costs)
- Employer provided equipment care and security requirements; employer right to monitor equipment
- Security, privacy and confidentiality policies (including restrictions on where work can be done, use of virtual private networks (VPNs) for secure internet access, requirements to avoid commingling personal and work data, and managing theft or loss of company data)
- Maintaining a safe work environment to avoid workers compensation claims
For remote employees working from different cities, states or countries than company headquarters, care should also be taken to assure that the policies comply with applicable laws for each location in which remote employees will be working.
Remote work policies can be fairly short and easily added to employee handbooks or as stand-alone policies.
Remote Work Agreement
A remote work agreement is signed by individual employees containing the specific terms of their remote work arrangement based on the company remote work policy. Remote work agreements include items such as the number of days of remote work, hours of work, equipment and supplies to be provided, responsibility for additional costs such as internet and phone service to meet company requirements, and security requirements for the remote worker.
Remote work agreements can be set up as an attachment to standard offer letters or employment agreements–or used as stand alone agreements–to be easily used for eligible remote workers.
Click to access a Remote Work Checklist and sample Remote Work Agreement. This agreement should be edited for your company’s specific needs and reviewed to assure it complies with applicable laws for any locations where your remote employees will be working. Let us know if you need help setting up your company’s remote work program.