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Employer Considerations for Remote and In-Person Workers as the School Year Commences

With the school year underway, employers in the United States face a new challenge: childcare-related leave and accommodation requests by employees. With widespread remote learning and evolving legal obligations to provide paid leave to working parents, employers must navigate unique staffing challenges while complying with the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA) and other state and local leave laws. In our recent webinar, we outlined some of the current leave requirements regarding childcare obligations and practical solutions to navigate these uncharted waters. View the slide deck here.

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DOL Provides Guidance on Tracking Telecommuters’ Work Hours

Employers must use reasonable diligence in tracking nonexempt telecommuters' work hours and may do this by providing a reporting procedure for unscheduled time, the US Department of Labor (DOL) stated in August 24 guidance. The workers then must be compensated for all reported work hours, even those not requested by the employer. In a recent article by the Society of Human Resource Management, McDermott partner Ellen Bronchetti explained that employers should have policies that prohibit working off the clock. "If an employer has an expectation that an employee was working from 8:00 am to 4:00 pm and the employee works later at night responding to emails, that could lead to wage and hour liability." Access the article.

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What to Do When Scared Workers Do Not Respond to Work Due to COVID-19

Some essential workers are refusing to go to work out of fear of contracting COVID-19. Their employers must weigh the employees’ legal rights and understandable health concerns with the organizations’ business needs. It can be a tough balancing act. In a recent article, McDermott Partner Pankit Doshi said employers may relax documentation requirements due to the difficulty some employees could have obtaining access to medical providers during the pandemic and to encourage ill employees to stay away from work. Access the article.

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Revisit Wage and Hour Policies During the Pandemic

The coronavirus pandemic has shifted some employees to remote work permanently while others are telecommuting more frequently. Employers' wage and hour policies and enforcement should account for the rise in telework. "Ensure that employees understand that time spent checking e-mails is compensable," said Ellen Bronchetti, a partner at McDermott Will & Emery in San Francisco, in a recent article by the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM). "Employers should conduct periodic audits to ensure employees are not checking e-mails off the clock." Consider requesting supervisors regularly certify that they did not call, text or e-mail a nonexempt employee outside workhours, Bronchetti said. Access the full article.

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