The temptation of off-the-clock telework is as close as your employee’s purse, pocket, or the laptop on the living room couch, and may lead to Wage Claims for unpaid regular and overtime hours. More than ever, the propensity of (or requirement for in some cases) many employees to check business emails after or before the work day is irresistible and can lead to hours of unpaid work. Employers would do well to establish, communicate, and enforce clear telework policies.
Managing exposure to claims regarding telework starts with ensuring that strong timekeeping practices and policies are in place, conveyed to employees, and enforced. Policies may include:
· Employees are required to record the actual starting time and stopping time of work, and starting and stopping times of meal breaks.
· All hours worked must be recorded accurately. Failing to accurately record hours worked is grounds for discipline.
· Employees must sign time records, confirming that all hours worked have been recorded, and that all required meal and rest breaks have been taken. Employees should alert a supervisor if unable to take any required breaks.
· Employees should immediately report any errors on time records to a supervisor.
· All off-the-clock-work is prohibited. This includes checking of emails/texts and responding to emails/texts during non-work hours.
Employers may choose to present these policies to employees and have employees sign an acknowledgment of receipt and understanding of these policies. If employees are found to be performing telework off-the-clock, a supervisor should counsel and document the violation of policy in writing.
· Do not email or text employees before or after work hours.
· Even if an employee violates the policy, if off-the-clock work is performed, all hours worked must be paid.
· Ensure that employees are not permitted or encouraged to work beyond their shifts off-the-clock.
· Employees must not be required or expected to respond to customers’ or clients’ emails or phone calls during off-the-clock time. Time spent doing so must be recorded on the time sheet and paid.
· Ensure there are no company policies, in writing or in practice, which reward keeping labor hours low while putting forth unrealistic expectations of work that must be produced.
Contact Freeland Law APC for a free 30-minute consultation with Michael Freeland, experienced employment lawyer serving San Diego, California.
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