WHAT EMPLOYMENT LAWS APPLY TO REMOTE WORKERS?

Florida Work From Home Laws: What Employment Laws Apply to Remote Workers?

With more employers allowing teleworking since the pandemic, having the proper information about Florida work-from-home laws has become important for an ever-growing segment of the workforce.

Many individuals wonder what employment laws apply to remote workers, from technology and finance professionals to business administration and academia. Even if you work from home, you still have certain state and federal rights protected under applicable employment laws. It can be easy to be taken advantage of by employers, but they still must abide by Florida work from home laws. 

What Are My Rights If I Work From Home in Florida? 

There are multiple areas of employment law that remote workers should be aware of to ensure that their rights are not being violated. 

Compensation

Compensation is one of the first areas of concern regarding Florida work from home laws that workers should understand. Because you are working in a separate location from the primary workplace, you may be missing out on wages and other forms of compensation that you should be entitled to under the law. 

Generally speaking, businesses are responsible for the expenses of conducting work activities – at the office or home. Did you have to pay for your setup at home, including desk, workspace, computer, etc.? If so, you may be entitled to reimbursement. 

Within the responsibilities of your duties, are you sometimes required to go to the office for meetings, training, or other events? If you are exclusively a remote worker, you may be entitled to compensation for your travel time to and from those meetings as well as other required travel during the course of the workday, such as trips to the post office. Additionally, many workers also qualify for reimbursement for the mileage for your travel back and forth to the primary workplace or other locations visited during the course of a workday. 

Workers’ Compensation

It is a well-known fact that workers’ compensation laws provide benefits to employees if they get injured in the workplace. These laws can also, depending on the situation, apply to remote workers as well. 

If you are injured while performing a work-related task at home, you may be entitled to the same benefits under Florida work from home laws. Due to the complexity of these types of cases, it is advisable to consult with a Florida employment lawattorney

Time

One of the most common complaints from remote workers is that their employers do not honor standard working hours and may even expect 24/7 availability. Depending on the specific parameters of your job description/responsibilities, you may be required by your employer to work different times than a standard 8-5 or 9-6 shift, but that doesn’t mean you should be endlessly available to be always at their beck and call. Meal breaks and rest breaks may apply to remote workers, just like if you were in the office. 

Another aspect of time covered under work from home labor laws includes access to an effective time tracking system. Some employers may not be as organized or technologically proficient with time tracking as others, making it difficult for them to understand when you are working and when you are not working, resulting in misunderstandings or even abuses of your time. 

Employment Information

It is not unusual for people to have been interviewed, hired, and started working from home without ever meeting anyone in person or going into the office or business during the pandemic. Modern technology has allowed us to do so much through our computers and other electronic devices. But this can become an employee rights issue implicating security and privacy concerns. 

Employees working remotely should have access to important employment information to prevent working from home discrimination or other types of violations, which can include the employee policy handbook and other related HR documents. Other important employment information included in working from home employer obligations is the relaying of federal, state, and local employment law notices. Information certainly is power – and is a critical tool that employees can use to protect their rights. 

Reasonable Accommodations

The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) has long covered the rights of employees to “reasonable accommodations” in the workplace. What is “reasonable” is determined on a case-by-case basis. But can this type of coverage be utilized to be able to telecommute? It depends. 

If the “essential functions” of the job require a worker to be face to face with customers or clients, for example, this may preclude the worker from working from home. The employer would still need to provide “reasonable accommodations” at the place of business.

If a medical condition prevents a worker from traveling to the office each workday, a potential option may be a job transfer. For example, transferring from a receptionist position to a data entry position that does not require face-to-face contact may be a good choice to allow for telecommuting. 

As telecommuting continues to increase, it is inevitable that more and more employers will need to have specific policies about working from home. Being aware of employer policies on telecommuting and Florida work from home laws is vital to maintaining your worker’s rights. 

Evaluate Your Work from Home Situation

If you are concerned that your employer may be violating Florida work from home laws, it is a good idea to evaluate your work from home situation. Has your boss been expecting you to finish projects on weekends when you have not worked weekends before? Are you working past your regular workday, qualify for overtime, and are not getting paid what you are due? 

Review the above-listed areas and evaluate how and when you work. If you find a problematic pattern or issue, speaking with an employment attorney can clarify whether you may have a case against your employer.

Just because you work from home does not mean that you must sacrifice your rights under federal and state employment laws. No one deserves to be discriminated against, harassed, or have their work/life balance disregarded. With the proper information, you can feel confident that your employee rights are being strongly protected.

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