The pivot toward remote work happened suddenly for many. A BLS survey (June 2020) found 31 percent of workers were teleworking or working from home. Stanford University research found that nearly twice as many U.S. employees (42%) were working from home full-time than were working on premises (26%) less than a month later. These work from home mandates have left organizations scrambling to understand posting compliance.
Specifically, they seek to close the gaps in terms of laws, technology, communication, and administrative resources. As it becomes apparent remote working is here to stay, these challenges haven’t gone away. Key among them: The need to comply with labor law posting and notification requirements with a remote workforce.
I wanted to find out what organizations really need to know as they aim for posting compliance. So, I went to Ashley Kaplan, Esq., Senior Employment Law Attorney for ComplyRight. She shared five critical tips to keep in mind:
1. Posting Compliance: Mandatory for Remote Workers
“Whether any, some, or all of your employees work remotely, you need to provide them with access to mandatory labor law postings. Employers are required to communicate employees’ rights. And it must be according to labor and employment regulations even if the employees work off-site. That includes working from home. That’s true whether it’s just for a few months or on a more permanent basis.” Ashley added: “Postings are required at the federal, state, and city/county levels. Depending on your state, that could mean up to 23 postings for federal and state compliance. It could also mean up to 10 additional local postings. Even more if you have government contracts or operate in certain industries.”
2. “Occasionally” On-site isn’t Enough
Ashley says we must pay attention to the recommendations of the Department of Labor. “Let’s say an employee reports to your onsite facility (where the workplace posters are displayed) fewer than three to four times a month. In that case, you need to provide the posters in an alternative format they can access remotely.”
For employees who have computer access, the DOL suggests electronic delivery.
3. Noncompliance Carries Consequences During COVID-19
It’s apparently a common misconception that regulatory enforcement has been relaxed in all areas due to COVID-19. That is not the case.
“During the pandemic, numerous laws have been passed with employee notification requirements. Those laws include addressing COVID-related issues such as social distancing, hygiene, paid sick leave, unemployment compensation, and discrimination,” Ashley says. She adds, “Posting violations can garner up to $35,000 per violation for federal fines. State and local fines typically range between $100 and $1,000 per violation. Additionally, overlooking mandatory posting requirements may extend the statute of limitations in litigation. That magnifies the financial impact of employee lawsuits.”
4. Electronic Delivery is Not a Substitute for Onsite Postings
“A legally acceptable alternative for offsite workers is electronic postings,” Ashley states. “They are not, though, a substitute for displaying the physical, printed posters at your onsite facilities. Government regulations are clear on this. With very limited exceptions, all of the federal, state and local postings still must be displayed at the worksite.”
Ashley went on to say: “That’s true even if you only have a few employees reporting to work there.”
5. Posting Compliance: Options for Electronic Delivery
Ashley says employers may provide the required postings to remote workers in a variety of ways. Via email or by posting a link to the posting images on a company web portal or intranet site are acceptable options.
“For proof of delivery, use an email-based solution with tracking and acknowledgments. This is a critical advantage in the event of a legal dispute, she added. “An intranet link providing unlimited employee access to postings is also legally compliant. As long, of course, that you adequately notify employees. You must provide the link and then keep it maintained with the latest postings. Keep in mind that these posting requirements change frequently, with more than 150 updates nationwide each year.”
Ensuring compliance with federal, state and local employment laws requires understanding several factors. Certainly the complexities of doing business during COVID-19 have further compounded them. Beyond posting compliance, common questions include how to manage time and pay issues for hourly and exempt workers remotely. Also common are questions about how to maintain security protocols. How to comply with new expanded family/medical protections and paid sick leave laws — including the Families First Coronavirus Response Act — are also common.
Whatever the exceptional circumstances, the bottom line is employers aren’t off the hook when it comes to understanding their obligations. That’s just one of many compelling reasons to seek the expertise of an outside service provider. One who can provide not just answers on matters of compliance, but offer functional solutions.
This post is sponsored by PosterGuard.