What Are My Rights as a Remote Worker?
By Gregory Thyberg on June 24, 2021
Advanced technology, along with a growing global market, has led many companies to adopt remote worker policies in recent years. And the COVID-19 pandemic seems to have further proven that companies can be productive, even when their employees are working from home instead of in an office.
One thing that is important to consider as remote positions become more common is how this type of arrangement affects employment rights. Employment law attorney Gregory Thyberg helps workers in Sacramento, CA, and across the state understand remote workers’ rights, so that they are not violated as a result of their work status.
Know Your Rights as a Remote Worker
There are numerous laws, at both the state and federal level, that are in place to protect employee rights. Some of the most basic entitlements provided by employment laws include:
- The right to work in an environment that is free of harassment or discrimination on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, national origin, age (for those over the age of 40), or disability
- The right to request reasonable accommodations that are needed due to medical conditions or religious beliefs
- The right to equal pay for equal work
- The right to report unsafe work environments, harassment, or discrimination (or to participate in a discrimination lawsuit) without facing retaliation or punishment for doing so
Although many of these laws were put in place before remote workers were a factor, they do not apply only to individuals who work within the walls of a business. Every Sacramento employee (excluding contract workers) has the same rights to the abovementioned entitlements, regardless of if they work in an office, in their home, or even in the lobby of a local coffee shop.
Remote Workers and Monitoring
Most employees are monitored by their employer to some degree. When an employee works at their place of business, it is much easier for employers to keep track of what type of work is being done, inter-office communication, and the number of hours that are being worked. If an employee is a remote worker, they can expect some digital monitoring to take place.
It is reasonable for remote workers to be asked to use some type of record-keeping or digital time tracking system to log the number of hours worked. And just as if they were working in an office setting, employers will likely have access to an employee’s inter-office communications. While this is legal, remote workers have the right to a degree of privacy. Therefore, any remote work monitoring should be included in a written policy that is agreed to, and signed, by the employee.
Remote Workers and Work Hours
It is important for remote workers, especially those who are hourly employees, to understand their rights regarding work hours and overtime. It is easy for remote workers to get caught up in work and put in hours beyond the standard 40 hour workweek. If a remote employee works in excess of 40 hours a week (or in excess of 8 hours a day in the state of California), they are due overtime pay, which is paid at the rate of one and a half times the regular rate of pay. While employees should seek approval before working overtime, they are due overtime wages regardless of whether the extra work hours have been previously approved.
Remote Workers and Business Expenses
Remote workers in the Sacramento area are likely to incur business-related expenses. California law requires that businesses pay employees back for these costs. As such, remote workers may seek reimbursement for expenses related to their remote workstations, which may include computer and/or software equipment, and ongoing fees for internet or other utilities.
If you are considering a remote worker position, it is important that you fully understand your rights as an employee. Employment law attorney Gregory Thyberg can answer any questions you may have about remote work policies, or can assist you in filing a claim if your employee rights have been violated. To learn more, send us a message online, or call us at (916) 204-9173.