The landscape of the average American career has shifted perceptibly in the last few years. In 2019, only a tiny fraction of professionals enjoyed work-from-home arrangements. Now, more people than ever before perform their jobs remotely and would prefer to continue doing so.
Work-from-home arrangements can be beneficial for both employers and employees. There’s no time lost to the commute, nor a risk of a worker not showing up for work because of a vehicle issue or a car crash. Of course, working from home means that there may be less direct management oversight and more complications in the relationship between supervisors and the teams that they manage.
The work-from-home era has certainly given rise to new employment challenges. What are some of the most pressing issues that can affect work-from-home arrangements?
They may highlight current or former discrimination
Some workers with disabling medical conditions may have a hard time working at a physical location for their employer. Many workers could potentially do their jobs remotely and might consider such arrangements to be an accommodation they require for health purposes.
When the company has shown that it is capable of accommodating work-from-home arrangements out of necessity, workers may claim discrimination because of previous refusals to allow them to work remotely as a medical accommodation.
Some workers who do their job remotely and then transition to an office may notice discrimination when management or coworkers become aware of their race, sex or other protected characteristics.
They may give rise to wage and hour claims
Working from home absolutely blurs the line between when you are on the job and when you are not. Companies may take advantage of their remote workers by demanding far more availability than is reasonable.
Managers might contact someone on the weekend or their scheduled time off and then expect the worker to perform job functions without necessarily receiving payment for them. Workers doing their job from home may feel like they have no choice but to constantly respond to messages and phone calls, when they could have left their job responsibilities behind before by leaving the office.
They could lead to unfair retaliation
Companies sometimes punish those who speak up and request accommodations, like the right to work from home because of medical issues. The employer might first agree with the arrangement and then quickly begin building a paper trail to justify firing the worker.
Both workers and the companies that employ them will benefit from identifying and actively avoiding these common work-from-home employment law complications.