HR Question: OSHA Regulations and the Home Office - UST
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Question: Do OSHA's regulations and standards apply to the home office? Are there any other federal laws employers need to consider when employees work from home?
Answer: The Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) does not have any regulations regarding telework in home offices. The agency issued a directive in February 2000 stating that the agency will not conduct inspections of employees’ home offices, will not hold employers liable for employees’ home offices, and does not expect employers to inspect the home offices of their employees.
If OSHA receives a complaint about a home office, the complainant will be advised of OSHA’s policy. If an employee makes a specific request, OSHA may informally let employers know of complaints about home office conditions but will not follow-up with the employer or employee.
Employers who are required to keep records of work-related injuries and illnesses will continue to be responsible for keeping such records for injuries and illnesses occurring in a home office.
The Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) and its implementing regulations do not prevent employers from implementing telework or other flexible work arrangements allowing employees to work from home. Employers would still be required to maintain an accurate record of hours worked for all employees, including those participating in telework or other flexible work arrangements; and to pay no less than the minimum wage for all hours worked and to pay at least one and one-half times the employee’s regular rate of pay for all hours worked over 40 in a workweek to nonexempt employees.
Employers are encouraged to work with their employees to establish hours of work for employees who telework and a mechanism for recording each teleworking employee’s hours of work. Nonexempt employees must receive the required minimum wage and overtime pay free and clear. This means that when a covered employee is required to provide the tools and equipment (e.g., computer, Internet connection, facsimile machine, etc.) needed for telework, the cost of providing the tools and equipment may not reduce the employee’s pay below that required by the FLSA.
Under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), telework could be a reasonable accommodation the employer would need to provide to a qualified individual with a disability, barring any undue hardship. However, an employer may instead offer alternative accommodations as long as they would be effective.
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