Remote Work Reminder: Comply With Wage and Hour Laws, Encourage Keeping a Schedule

As remote work continues to be a way of life for many, it’s important to ensure accurate timekeeping for nonexempt employees and comply with wage and hour laws, such as meal and rest breaks and overtime.

It’s important to remember that you must pay nonexempt employees for all hours worked — and it’s essential that you:

  • Require these employees to record their time worked; and
  • Closely monitor their hours and pay for any overtime.

In fact, following a routine or keeping a general schedule can make it easier for employees to work their expected hours, and for managers and supervisors to monitor those hours.

Make clear to nonexempt employees the schedule they must follow — and emphasize that not only must meal and rest breaks be adhered to as if they were in the office, but also that all time-keeping requirements still apply. Consider checking in with these employees to make sure they’re taking a 10-minute paid rest break for every four hours worked, or major fraction thereof, and a 30-minute unpaid meal break within the first five hours of their workday. Having a clearly written meal and rest break policy is also critical to help communicate to your employees the importance of taking timely breaks.

Additionally, employers that don’t currently use time-tracking software services, such as ADP or Paycom, should strongly consider implementing such a service. Also, remember that California law requires all overtime to be paid — even if that time was not approved. Overtime pay is calculated at 1.5 times the employee’s regular rate of pay for all hours worked beyond eight hours in a workday or 40 hours in a workweek.

And while no hard and fast wage and hour laws exist for exempt employees who are remote, some find that time passes much faster remotely than at the office — and there are no cues as to when it’s time to stop working. In the office, employees see their coworkers leaving, they see the lights go off or the janitors coming in. They inherently know it’s time to hang it up for the day.

This is often not the case for exempt workers at home, however, so they might work for hours after the usual “quitting time.” And while working ultralong hours is admirable when needed, it’s unsustainable when applied consistently — and a sure recipe for employee burnout.

The key takeaway? For employees whose homes are now their offices — whether they’re exempt or nonexempt — remind them to be mindful of their time. And nonexempt employees must take their meal and rest breaks as required by law, and be paid for all hours worked.

by Mike McCluskey, Senior Technical Editor, CalChamber

CalChamber members can read more about Meal and Rest Break Best Practices in the HR Library. Not a member? See how CalChamber can help you.

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