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Coast Employment Law
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Telecommuting Policies in the Workplace

Telecommuting Policies in the WorkplaceA number of employers now allow employees to telecommute part of their workweek. That means more numbers of employees, who work from home for at least part of the week. In an situation like this, where the traditional workplace is giving way to new ways of performing the same jobs, it is important that employers have in place proper policies for telecommuting to avoid confusion and disruption.

Telecommuting programs are popular with many employers nowadays because businesses have discovered that there are several benefits to having employees work from home. Such telecommuting programs boost employee morale, and allow companies to attract and retain high quality workers. Employers also very often find that telecommuting results in significant cost savings, when employees work from home.

As an employer, it is not an absolute must that you must offer a telecommuting program to all employees in the workplace. However, if you do currently offer a telecommuting program, then employees with disabilities must also be included in the program and must be given the chance to participate. Additionally, if a disabled visible employee in your workplace requests telecommuting, then you must make accommodations for it. If you already have rules in place that require employees to finish a full year of workplace duty before they are eligible for telecommuting, then those rules may have to be waived off in the case of a disabled employee, under the reasonable accommodation regulations of the Americans with Disabilities Act.

If you have a telecommuting program in the workplace, make sure that you treat everybody equally, although there will be exceptions like people with disabilities. In other words, when employees make a request for telecommuting, take those requests seriously. Telecommuting is a highly desirable option for many workers, and mothers or parents are especially likely to jump at the chance to work from home at least part of the work week. That means that your policy must be watertight, so that there are eligibility criteria that employees must follow before they can be eligible for telecommuting. Failure to specify criteria only increases the risk of confusion, rivalries, and disruptions in the office environment, when people are angry about not being given the option for telecommuting.

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