With the spread of the COVID-19 virus across the country, many large cities have resorted to shelter-in-place orders and millions of Americans are now working from home. Although many white-collar businesses can make a relatively seamless transition to remote work, construction firms face some undeniable challenges transferring their operations to telework.
In this article, a Raleigh construction lawyer will answer four common questions for construction employers related to the employment law aspects of telework. Remember, for any of your legal needs during this pandemic, consult a Raleigh construction attorney with Cotney Construction Law.
1) Can I request employees to telework?
Yes. Employers are being encouraged by public health programs like the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to require non-essential employees to telework as a spread prevention strategy; however, telework must be a reasonable accommodation for employees and allow them to perform their essential functions. In other words, any employee that works in an office can likely transfer over to telework.
2) Can I require employees that travel for work to telework?
Yes. As long as working from home is a reasonable accommodation and the employer prefers that their employee teleworks rather than travels, they can instruct them to do so. In fact, businesses should closely monitor the locations where any employees are required to travel for work, as COVID-19 is a community spread disease with a far greater risk factor in some areas of the United States.
3) Can pay be reduced for employees that telework?
Yes and no. Payment depends on the classification of the worker. Salaried employees should be paid their full salary for telework; however, hourly employees may experience reduced hours when moved over to telework. However, if telework is considered a reasonable accommodation, the employee should work the same number of hours and be paid the exact same amount.
4) If telework isn’t an option, do I have to pay an employee that isn’t working?
Yes and no. The answer to this question depends on the classification of the employee and whether or not they are covered within the recently expanded medical leave policy, the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA or Act). As a general wage and hour law, hourly employees are only required to be paid for the total numbers of hours they worked in a workweek. So if they are not working any hours, they shouldn’t be paid. As for exempt, salaried employees, the answer is determined on a case-by-case basis and requires the attention of a construction lawyer.
With the passing of the FFCRA, some employment rights for paid sick leave and extended medical leave have been amended. Consult an attorney for more information. If you have any questions related to telework or your responsibilities within the FFCRA, speak with an attorney from Cotney Construction Law to learn more.
If you would like to speak with a Raleigh construction litigation attorney, please contact us today.
Disclaimer: The information contained in this article is for general educational information only. This information does not constitute legal advice, is not intended to constitute legal advice, nor should it be relied upon as legal advice for your specific factual pattern or situation.