With telework arrangements expanding in response to the coronavirus pandemic, the U.S. Department of Labor’s Wage and Hour Division (WHD) today issued Field Assistance Bulletin 2020-5 to clarify an employer’s obligation to track the number of hours of compensable work performed by employees who are teleworking or otherwise working away from premises controlled by their employers.
In a telework or remote work arrangement, the question of the employer’s obligation to track hours actually worked for which the employee was not scheduled may often arise. While the guidance issued today responds directly to needs created by new telework or remote work arrangements that arose in response to the coronavirus, it also applies to other telework or remote work arrangements.
“Due to the coronavirus pandemic, more Americans are teleworking and working variable schedules than ever before to balance their jobs with a myriad of family obligations, such as remote learning for their children and many others. This has presented unique challenges to employers with regard to how to track work time accurately,” said Wage and Hour Division Administrator Cheryl Stanton. “Today’s guidance is one more tool the Wage and Hour Division is putting forward to ensure that workers are paid all the wages they have earned, and that employers have all the tools they need as they navigate what may, for many, be uncharted waters of managing remote workers.”
Today’s guidance reaffirms that an employer is required to pay its employees for all hours worked, including work not requested but allowed and work performed at home. If the employer knows or has reason to believe that an employee is performing work, the time must be counted as hours worked. Confusion over when an employer “has reason to believe that work is being performed,” may be exacerbated by the increasing frequency of telework and remote work arrangements since the Department last issued interpretive rules in 1961.
The Wage and Hour Division provides additional information on common issues employers and employees face when responding to the coronavirus, such as its effects on wages and hours worked under the Fair Labor Standards Act, paid leave under the Family and Medical Leave Act, and paid sick and expanded family and medical leave under the Families First Coronavirus Response Act. Learn more about these issues.
The mission of the Department of Labor is to foster, promote, and develop the welfare of the wage earners, job seekers, and retirees of the United States; improve working conditions; advance opportunities for profitable employment; and assure work-related benefits and rights.