While millions of Americans already telecommuted and worked remotely prior to COVID-19, the pandemic has made working from home the standard operating procedure for millions more. We’re now seeing an incredible 42 percent of the U.S. labor force now working from home full-time, with this group of employees accounting for more than two-thirds of all U.S. economic activity. Many employers have decided to continue to extend their teleworking policies even in areas where their offices have been permitted to re-open at limited capacity.
Unfortunately, this explosion in remote work has also been accompanied by a surge in wage and hour disputes. This is because, in a remote environment, it can be incredibly difficult for employers to determine if and when employees are working. Given the ongoing health risk and with extensive remote work likely to continue for the indefinite future, it’s important for employees to be well-advised of their rights and the policies in place designed to ensure their employers are in compliance with wage and hour laws. If you feel as if your employment rights have been violated and you are owed unpaid wages, it’s crucial to reach out to an experienced Tampa wage and hour lawyer with Cotney Construction Law.
Actual and Constructive Knowledge
In a traditional workplace setting, it’s fairly straightforward that while the employee is working a regularly scheduled shift or workday, they will be paid for the workday minus any lunch breaks. It’s long been established that any employer is required to pay its employees for all hours worked, including work not requested but permitted and work performed remotely. If your employer knows or has good reason to believe that you have performed compensable work, this time must be counted as hours worked.
Unfortunately, where employees in a traditional setting may clock in at the start of a workday, employees performing remote work may not clock in or even work on a traditional schedule. Your employer has no responsibility to research through your computer access records or email timestamps in order to piece together the unscheduled or unauthorized time that you worked so that they can provide payment. The Department of Labor (DOL) specifies that the employer must have actual knowledge of the hours you worked, rather than constructive. For remote workers, this means it’s your responsibility to accurately record and report the hours you work each day — regardless of where or when this work is performed. If, at this point, your employer doesn’t provide you with the appropriate payment for the time you worked, then you are dealing with one of the many wage and hour violations in Florida.
Payment for Full Workweek
The Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) generally requires that employers pay non-exempt workers at least the minimum wage for all hours worked and at least time and one half the regular rate of pay for those hours worked in excess of 40 per week. On the other hand, for salaried exempt employees, the employer must ensure that they are provided payment for the entire workweek in any week in which they perform work, regardless of whether they performed work for the entire week. An employer is only permitted to pay an exempt employee less than their full weekly salary if the deduction qualifies as a regulatory exemption, such as absences for one or more full days due to personal reasons, sickness or disability, and disciplinary suspensions. The FLSA does not, however, require employers to provide payment for weeks in which the employee does not perform any work. If you are an exempt employee and believe you are owed payment for a week that you performed work, don’t wait to get in contact with one of the Tampa wage and hour attorneys at Cotney Construction Law.
Generally speaking, an employer is to compensate employees for the continuous workday — including the time during the workday after the employee starts work through the time that he or she finishes. With remote work, employees are much more likely to fall prey to potential distractions and request flexible scheduling. For example, some employees may request additional time during their normal workday in order to care for a child or an elderly relative. With the added stressors of the COVID-19 crisis, the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA) states that the continuous workday rule does not apply to employees working remotely as a result of COVID-19 reasons. This allows employees to work with breaks to deal with any personal responsibilities, such as childcare, throughout the day. However, even with a more flexible schedule, it’s important to be open with your employer and agree to a set schedule that falls within normal time-reporting proceedings and the relevant state laws. This is especially important as more states may move towards ending this approach, with workers returning to in-person job sites.
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.