Taking A Big Risk – Surge In Telecommuting Creates New Twists, Novel Legal Questions And Employer Problems
As the popularity of telecommuting grows, employers are facing new twists on legal issues they had long since considered settled at the office. Companies are being taken to court for not paying overtime and for knowing telecommuters are regularly working through their lunch hours. Among the emerging issues identified by this article:
What happens if telecommuters slip in their home office and injure themselves? Does workers’ compensation apply? What about accidents with vendors such as computer techs fixing home office PCs or clients visiting a teleworker at home?
Companies have a right to look at everything stored in office PCs, but what about things stored in home office computers? Do employers have a right to inspect the home office computer if they suspect someone is downloading unauthorized material or sending information to a business competitor?
An injured telecommuter would be denied workers’ compensation if there is no clear delineation between work time and personal time.
The author believes many of these issues could be put to rest with carefully worded telecommuter agreements and guidelines. Nonetheless, she expects continued questions – and lawsuits – as companies and employees wrestle with these issues.
Source: Alison Grant, The Plain Dealer (Cleveland); Feb 4, 2007