The playing field of employment in California has undergone drastic changes in recent years. Many employers embrace the rapidly developing gig economy — a free market system in which organizations create temporary positions for contracted employees to complete short-term engagements, often in their own time and not on the employer’s premises. While this might benefit the bottom lines of businesses, the workers receive no benefits, and if they should suffer injuries while engaged in the project, the employer’s workers’ compensation insurance will not provide coverage.
This is where telecommuting comes in. Your employer can save significantly by limiting the need for office facilities and everything that goes with it by allowing you and other employees to set up offices in your homes. From their homes, employees can do their jobs by utilizing the internet along with the ever-advancing technological and digital business tools. Business owners classify telecommuters as permanent employees who receive typical benefits, including coverage by the state-regulated workers’ compensation system.
Benefits of telecommuting
Telecommuting allows you to work flexible hours. You can balance your home and work lives, which will likely result in higher morale and loyalty to your employer. If ever your spouse’s employer transfers him or her to another city, as a telecommuter you would not need to resign and find a new job in the new location. You can simply continue your current job from your new home. At the same time, your employer can avoid negative staff turnover and the expenses of training replacement personnel.
Any company that decides to allow employees to telecommute must develop a different set of guidelines to deal with remote employees. The following notes will likely feature on a telecommuting policy:
- Clearly defined work hours, even if they are flexible
- Specified work expectations along with reporting guidelines
- Establish a list of necessary equipment
- Set out confidentiality standards
- Establish home office guidelines to ensure the worker has a designated workspace
- Ensure compliance with OSHA’s standards for safety and security
Not everybody is an ideal candidate for telecommuting, and employers must consider whether an employee can successfully work without supervision, resist distractions and cope with isolation.
Work-related injuries and workers’ compensation are still confusing areas of telecommuting. What will happen if you leave your office in the basement to pour a cup of coffee in the kitchen and slip on the steps on your way back down? You might suffer a fracture that could have significant financial consequences, and what will you do if you cannot work for some time?
Your employer might question whether your injury happened during your work activities, even though such a fall while fetching coffee in a traditional office will likely qualify for benefits. If you have to cope with the consequences of a work-related injury while you work as a telecommuter, you might find the support and guidance of an experienced California workers’ compensation attorney invaluable. A lawyer can navigate the claims process and handle dealings with the employer and his or her insurance provider.