What Rights Do Remote Workers in California Have?

Author: Nicki Malekadeli
Posted on: November 20, 2019

Among all US states, California has the biggest population of remote workers. It accounts for 5.8% of the state’s total workforce. Technological advancements have allowed many individuals to choose home-based work over office-based jobs. This is because remote work does not oblige employees to travel to and from the office. Communication and work are done through devices such as phones and laptops, and with the aid of the internet. 

While telecommuting offers convenience and flexibility, it comes with some risks and drawbacks, as well. For one, not all remote workers are aware of their rights and responsibilities. And there are employers, despite being aware of the law, find loopholes to take advantage of their workers.  

Thus, if you decide to engage in this kind of work, it is essential to know the areas covered by the California telecommuting law.

Labor Codes Concerning Remote Workers

Since more people are opting to work remotely, it is crucial to observe the rights they possess. They should acquire the same rights as those individuals who have office jobs. Below are some of the California labor laws concerning remote employees:

Reimbursements

Employers of home-based workers are required to reimburse these employees for fees that are demanded by the job. This provision is included in the Labor Code Section 2802. The section also mentioned that for parties to avoid the reimbursement process, the employer can supply the essential equipment or service needed for the task. For example, a remote worker who is required to make work-related calls must be compensated for cell phone load charges. The percentage of reimbursement must be agreed upon by both parties for the sake of fairness. The employer does not need to pay for the whole bill since the worker makes calls that are unrelated to the task.

The employee also has an obligation in the reimbursement process. A remote worker must provide substantial evidence that the fees incurred are crucial for the task. For clarity, employers must supply the worker with the necessary equipment deemed for the job. Another essential action is to construct a clear policy regarding the extent of reimbursements. It should also include the worker’s freedom to file for refunds should there be excessive charges needed for the job.

Health and Accident Insurance

Employers are responsible for workers’ injuries, which are sustained while they are doing their tasks. The said regulation is contained in the Labor Code Section 3600. Although the company cannot immediately discern the condition that led to the injury, they are obligated to give medical compensation to the remote worker. It is the responsibility of companies to be aware of possible risks related to remote work. They are also accountable for ensuring that their employees are protected from these risks.

Homes, like any other place, possess hazards. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration or OSHA states that company owners must provide safe workplaces for their employees. OSHA does not usually examine home-based offices, but companies are nonetheless obligated to monitor the safety of their remote workers. Besides, under California law, businesses are liable for compensation insurance that must be provided to their workers, office-based, or home-based.

Overtime Pay and Other Wage Concerns

The Labor Code Section 226.7 states that company owners are required to give an extra hour-pay for each workday that they failed to allow a rest or mealtime for the employee. The Code does not provide exemptions to any work, may it be in a corporate office or inside a house. 

Some people may ask, can non-exempt employees work from home in California? Definitely. California labor laws are clear regarding overtime pay exemptions. The state also necessitates companies to record non-exempt employees’ working hours. Due to technological advancements, there exist software programs that help owners to document the work hours of non-exempt employees efficiently. This record is crucial for proper overtime pay. Business owners are required to give overtime pay for additional working hours. Labor law includes an 8-hour minimum working hour per day.

However, some employees are not eligible for overtime pay. These workers are classified as exempt employees. Exempt workers earn a minimum of $23,660 annually. California exempt employee rights still include meal and rest breaks. All employees are encouraged to enjoy these sanity breaks.

Exercise Your Rights as a Remote Worker

Remote workers must enjoy the same legal rights as those enjoyed by office-based employees. Home-based workers must acquire paid lunch, breaks, and time-off. It must not be the case that some employees experience working from home legal issues. However, for these unfortunate circumstances, it is advisable to contact an experienced legal counsel who can discuss labor rights in detail. An experienced attorney will represent possible suit or compensation claims filed by the aggrieved worker. If you or someone you know suffered from any labor rights violation, it is in your best interest to communicate with a labor attorney for proper representation.

Get in touch with Mesriani Law Group today for top-notch legal counsel!