California labor laws still apply to working from home.
In response to the global COVID-19 pandemic, Governor Gavin Newsom issued a shelter-in-place order for all Californians. Under this order, residents should remain at home except to go to work at an essential business, secure necessities, or get exercise outdoors. Even before this order was issued, many Californians had switched to working from home as a way to slow the spread of the virus.
Under both California state and federal law, employees do not have a right to work from home. However, now that millions of Californians are working from home due to the coronavirus, it is important to understand your rights as an employee.
According to a California labor and employment attorney, many of California’s labor laws apply to work from home situations just as they do to working on the premises of your employer. For example, if you work more than 40 hours in a given work week, you are entitled to overtime pay of one-and-a-half times your usual rate of pay for each additional hour worked. Even if you are working remotely, you are still entitled to overtime pay for these hours.
Non-exempt (typically, hourly workers) employees are also still entitled to meal and rest breaks. Working from home often provides greater flexibility for workers — but in some situations, employers may require employees to virtually clock in to prove that they are working a certain amount of hours. During this time, you can and should take meal and rest breaks, just as you would if you were at the office. If you are required to work through a meal, then you should be paid for that amount.
One of the most complicated aspects of working from home during this time is how to handle business expenses. Particularly in this situation, where work from home arrangements had to be made suddenly, businesses may not have had the time or ability to set employees up with the items that are necessary to work remotely, such as WiFi equipment, a computer, a dedicated phone line, or even extra monitors. As a general rule, companies are required to reimburse employees for business expenses that they incur on behalf of the company. If there is a question about whether you are entitled to reimbursement, consult with a California labor and employment attorney.
Despite the emergency nature of the pandemic, companies should establish policies regarding working from home to guide employees during this time. These policies should outline how attendance is counted, how to accurately record time worked, how many hours employees should work and if there is flexibility with the schedule, the use of devices (including personal computers and phones), and how to protect the information transmitted via these devices.
At PLBSH, we stand with our fellow Californians — and all Americans — during this time. If your employer has violated the law, such as by discriminating against you, failing to pay you in accordance with the law, or unlawfully terminating your employment, we can help. Contact us today at (800) 435-7542 or firstname.lastname@example.org to schedule a consultation with a California labor and employment attorney.