Chicago, IL (Law Firm Newswire) March 17, 2015 - Telecommuting is a common working arrangement these days. Make sure any work-at-home agreements with an employer are clearly written.
With the exception of workers living in Montana, at-will employment laws are in play across the U.S. That means an employer may lay a worker off, cut pay, terminate or demote them at any time, for virtually any non-discriminatory reason. All these laws still apply if an employee works at home.
The United States is one of very few countries where employment is at-will in all states, save Montana. The rationale behind the concept of at-will employment includes the belief that the worker and employer prefer this arrangement over job security. In addition, it respects freedom of contract and employer deference.
Employers that allow employees with disabilities to work from home are in lockstep with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), which defines a disabled worker to work at home as an accommodation. Federal laws also state that employers must ensure that disabled workers can do their job just as well as other workers, making any necessary accommodations.
“Many work-at-home employees don’t realize that there are certain laws that apply when the work-at-home status is permanent and ongoing and not just a temporary period of time,” points out Chicago employment attorney, Timothy Coffey.
An agreement with an employer for that kind of arrangement does not override at-will employment law, as working at home is not classified as independent contracting. Working at home means the individual is still an employee because the employer controls their work assignments.
“If you have an agreement to work for an employer from your home base, then make sure you get that agreement, and all that it encompasses, in writing,” says Coffey. “It protects you and the employer. Some of the things you would need to have in that contract would include your compliance with codes of conduct and ethics and are in agreement to follow the defined business rules.”
The agreement should precisely state which tasks the work-at-home employee is responsible for and if they are to be on call or not. It also needs to address anything happening to office equipment used at home to conduct the company’s business.
“There are a number of other things to include in a contract of this nature as well,” adds Coffey, “which may include, but not be limited to: days off in lieu, worker status/designation, responsibilities over and above the job description, raises, discipline in the event it is needed and notification of termination.”
THE COFFEY LAW OFFICE, P.C.
351 W. Hubbard Street, Suite 602
Chicago, IL 60654