Telecommuting may be on the way out at Yahoo! but
it is very much alive elsewhere. So if you have
employees who are working from home, or if you are
considering it, you should think through the
The first question is: Do you have a written
agreement to set out the telecommuting rules? If not,
you need one.
The next question is: What does the
telecommuting agreement need to address? Here is a list
of some issues to consider:
How do you monitor and manage hours of work? Unless
you fit into one of the exemptions in the BC Employment
Standards Regulation, you will be liable for all hours that
the employee works, or is allowed to work, at home. See
post about overtime for more information.
How do you meet your obligation to provide a safe
workplace? The kids' toys scattered around the floor of
the home "office" may be a workplace hazard. The
employee needs to provide assurances about how the home office will
be furnished and maintained and the employer needs to have the
ability to check it out from time to time. The employee also
needs to commit to report any workplace injury.
How do you protect confidential, proprietary or personal
information? The agreement needs to address how paper files
are to be handled and stored, how computers are to be used and
secured, and how communications are to be protected.
Who supplies, owns and maintains the required equipment and
supplies? Be clear about who pays for what, and whether or
not there is to be any compensation for use of the
employee's personal property.
What insurance is required and do the employer's insurance
policies impose any conditions or restrictions on employees working
from home? Review existing policies and consider what extra
insurance is required and who pays for it.
Do you need the employee to report to the regular place of work
at certain times or on request? Such obligations should be
Finally, in case your new CEO wants to do a Yahoo!,
make sure your agreement allows for amendment or termination of the
telecommuting arrangement at any time.
The telecommuting or "working from home" agreement is
important but it need not be complicated. One or two
pages can help provide some certainty and manageability
in a variety of circumstances.
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