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Making Telecommuting Work Training for Supervisors Presentation Subtitle/Description Presenter’s Name Date
©SHRM Introduction Many organizations allow employees to work in offices located off-site and within employees’ homes. This alternative work arrangement, generally called “telecommuting,” is becoming more popular as organizations look for ways to respond to business continuity issues and to help communities with transportation and air pollution problems. To make telecommuting successful, employers must train managers on identifying the positions and the employees who are most suitable for working off-site and educate them on federal employment laws involved in telecommuting arrangements. This sample presentation is intended for presentation to supervisors who manage employees who telecommute. It is designed to be presented by an individual who is knowledgeable about the employer’s own telecommuting policies and practices. It is a sample presentation that must be customized to comply with the employer’s own policies and practices.
©SHRM Objectives At the close of this session, you will be able to: Identify the types of positions suitable for telecommuting. Describe the characteristics an employee must have to be a successful telecommuter. List major federal employment laws that apply to telecommuters (FLSA, OSHA, Workers’ Compensation, ADA and FMLA). Keep telecommuters informed and included in their workgroup and company. Describe technological resources needed for telecommuting. List at least 5 tips for the effective management of telecommuters.
©SHRM ( Note to presenter: Customize to your organization by including job titles when possible. Distribute your company policies.) Not all positions are suitable for telecommuting. The employer must consider whether the job purpose and respective duties are location-specific. For example, “receptionist” and “warehouse manager” are two job functions that are not suitable for telecommuting; the job duties must be performed on- site. Trainee positions also are not suitable for telecommuting. Positions where the majority of the work involves the electronic transmission of information or documents may be suitable for telecommuting, when company or client privacy or confidentiality are not at risk. Positions Suitable for Telecommuting
©SHRM 2008 Positions Suitable for Telecommuting (cont’d) Other characteristics that make a position suitable for telecommuting include minimal supervision requirements or limited face-to-face contact with customers or clients. There may be situations such as light-duty assignments, ADA or religious accommodation requests when telecommuting could be considered on a case-by-case basis. Note: A position’s suitability does not guarantee that the employee is suitable for telecommuting. 5
©SHRM 2008 Characteristics of a Successful Telecommuter (Note to presenter: Customize to your organization’s policy outlining employee eligibility.) Our Company believes that employees who are eligible and make the best telecommuters possess the following characteristics: Organized. Excellent time management skills. Self-motivated/self-starter. Strong written and verbal communication skills. Work well with limited supervision. Self-disciplined. Strong performance record and job knowledge. 6
©SHRM 2008 Characteristics of a Successful Telecommuter (cont’d) Successfully completed their training phase. Comfortable using telecommuting equipment. Comfortable working alone. Resourceful when handling technology issues. Able to communicate effectively using mixed media such as phones, and video conferencing. Ability to establish work life/home life boundaries. Supportive home environment free from household distractions. 7
©SHRM 2008 Group Discussion Using our company telecommuting and IT policies, discuss in your small group whether you would approve or deny the following telecommuting request and your reasons why: John has been with the company 3 months and is considered to be in the “training phase”, which usually lasts 6 months. His work is closely monitored by his immediate supervisor, who provides him with weekly summaries and recommendations for improving his performance. John has asked to telecommute 1 day a week. He indicates that his request is so he can go the mosque, which is 25 miles away and is in the opposite direction from the office, and so he can get there in time. He tells you that Friday is his “holy day,” and telecommuting would allow him to practice his religion as dictated. 8
©SHRM 2008 Group Discussion (cont’d) Using our company telecommuting and IT policies, discuss in your small group whether you would approve or deny the following telecommuting request and your reasons why: Maria has been with the company 6 months; for the past 2 months, she has been on a performance improvement plan due to tardiness issues. She is requesting that she start telecommuting so that she can be home to ensure her kids get on the school bus on time. She believes that telecommuting would solve her tardiness issues. 9
©SHRM 2008 Questions? Comments? 10
©SHRM 2008 Major Employment Laws That Apply to Telecommuters FLSA - Wage and Hour Compliance OSHA - Workplace Safety WC - Workers’ Compensation ADA - Americans with Disabilities Act FMLA - Family Medical Leave Act 11
©SHRM 2008 Major Employment Laws That Apply to Telecommuters (cont’d) The Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) is a federal law which outlines wage and hour compliance including minimum wage and overtime provisions. The FLSA applies to telecommuters under the concept of Place of Work: Hours worked include all the time during which an employee is required or allowed to perform work for an employer, regardless of where the work is done--whether on the employer’s premises, at a designated workplace, at home or at some other location. It is the duty of management to exercise control and see that work is not performed if the employer does not want it to be performed. An employer cannot sit back and accept the benefits of an employee’s work without considering the time spent to be hours worked. Merely making a rule against such work is not enough. The employer has the power to enforce the rule and must make every effort to do so. Employees generally may not volunteer to perform work without the employer having to count the time as hours worked. Source: 12
©SHRM 2008 Major Employment Laws That Apply to Telecommuters (cont’d) Under the FLSA, employees who are paid on an hourly basis and are classified as “nonexempt” must receive overtime pay for all hours worked over 40 in a workweek. Overtime pay is one and one-half times the employee’s rate of pay. Employers are not required by the FLSA to pay overtime to employees who are classified as “exempt” under the FLSA and are paid on a “salary basis”. Managing nonexempt telecommuters involves special attention to wage and hour compliance. 13
©SHRM 2008 Major Employment Laws That Apply to Telecommuters (cont’d) Some of the challenging wage and hour compliance issues when managing nonexempt telecommuters include: Overtime. Reporting and monitoring of hours. “Working off the clock”. Pre-approval of overtime. 14
©SHRM 2008 Major Employment Laws That Apply to Telecommuters (cont’d) Overtime Nonexempt employees are paid overtime for all hours worked over 40 in a workweek. The FLSA does not require overtime to be calculated for hours not worked, such as vacation or holidays that fall in the week. The FLSA does not require employers to provide meal or rest breaks (some state laws may), but says that when a nonexempt employee is relieved of all duties for at least 30 minutes, this time does not need to be compensated or counted toward hours worked. Hours worked over 40 in a workweek must be counted and paid as overtime, even if they were not previously requested or authorized by management. 15
©SHRM 2008 Major Employment Laws That Apply to Telecommuters (cont’d) (Note to Presenter: Check/review your company policies and customize when necessary.) Reporting and Monitoring of Hours The FLSA requires employers to keep accurate records of all hours worked. Our company policy requires employees to either “sign-in” using a timesheet or “clock in” using our time clocks. Nonexempt telecommuters will also be required to record the hours they work to ensure that they are paid for all hours worked and to verify the actual hours worked against their scheduled and approved hours. Nonexempt telecommuters are required to check into and out of our computer system on a daily basis. Doing so activates computer-generated logs which are used for timekeeping, monitoring and confirmation of days and hours worked. 16
©SHRM 2008 Major Employment Laws That Apply to Telecommuters (cont’d) (Note to Presenter: Check/review your company policies and customize when necessary.) “Working off the clock” occurs when a nonexempt employee works after either signing or clocking out for the day. Can result in working extra hours beyond the employee’s scheduled or approved hours and lead to potential overtime situations. Can easily happen when nonexempt telecommuters check their work or use company-supplied BlackBerries for company business after hours. Is not acceptable by any nonexempt employee, and telecommuters who engage in this practice may have their telecommuting privileges revoked. 17
©SHRM 2008 Major Employment Laws That Apply to Telecommuters (cont’d) (Note to Presenter: Check/review your company policies and customize when necessary.) Pre-approval of overtime Our company policy requires pre-approval of overtime before it is worked. This policy can be more challenging when managing telecommuters who are working off-site the day overtime is needed. Management should try to phone or the employee at least 4 hours in advance. If possible, management may reschedule employee hours to prevent an overtime situation. Employees are expected to inform their managers of a potential need to work over their approved schedule which could result in overtime. Advanced notice by telecommuters is expected at least 8 hours if practical. 18
©SHRM 2008 Major Employment Laws That Apply to Telecommuters (cont’d) Workplace safety issues can be more challenging when managing home-based telecommuters, because the line between the workplace and the employee’s residence is not always clearly defined. OSHA is a federal law which requires employers to provide workplaces free from known hazards. Inspections of workplaces and requiring employers to record workplace injuries are OSHA provisions that employers need to comply with—including for telecommuters. Recording of workplace injuries, including those in home offices, applies to telecommuters. 19
©SHRM 2008 Major Employment Laws That Apply to Telecommuters (cont’d) Inspections of the home offices of telecommuters, however, is not required by OSHA as outlined in the following OSHA guidance: OSHA will not conduct inspections of employees' home offices. OSHA 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. Source – OSHA Instruction - Home-Based Worksites RECTIVES&p_id=2254– RECTIVES&p_id=
©SHRM 2008 (Note to Presenter: Check/review your company policies and customize when necessary.) Workers’ Compensation (WC) is a wage replacement benefit law which provides employees compensation when they sustain an injury or develop an illness during the course of employment. Determining whether a telecommuter’s injuries or illness are covered under WC is challenging. Information about whether the injury was a result of a home office workplace or residential situation must be taken into account. Our policy is that employees are to report immediately to their supervisors an injury or illness they consider work-related, including slips or falls, regardless of whether it occurred on our premises or in the telecommuter’s home office. Supervisors are to report these injuries to HR within 24 hours of being notified by the telecommuter. It is not the supervisor’s or HR’s role to determine whether the injury or illness is job-related. This decision is made by our WC carrier. 21 Major Employment Laws That Apply to Telecommuters (cont’d)
©SHRM 2008 Major Employment Laws That Apply to Telecommuters (cont’d) (Note to Presenter: Review your company policies and customize when necessary.) The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) is a federal law which requires employers with 15 or more employees to provide reasonable accommodation for employees with disabilities. A “reasonable accommodation is any change in the work environment or in the way things are customarily done that enables an individual with a disability to apply for a job, perform a job, or gain equal access to the benefits and privileges of a job. The ADA does not require an employer to provide a specific accommodation if it causes undue hardship, i.e., significant difficulty or expense.” Source: Telecommuting may be considered a reasonable accommodation under the ADA. 22
©SHRM 2008 Major Employment Laws That Apply to Telecommuters (cont’d) (Note to Presenter: Customize to your company policies.) The ADA does not require employers to provide telecommuting as an accommodation. Our company practice and policy is to consider telecommuting a reasonable accommodation when appropriate. The nature of the work performed and employee eligibility based on the employee’s performance record and tenure will be considered when determining the feasibility of telecommuting as a reasonable accommodation. Other factors will include whether the ability to supervise the employee is affected by use of certain equipment or tools that cannot be replicated or supplied in the home office. EEOC Guidance “Work At Home/Telework as a Reasonable Accommodation” and the Job Accommodation Network (www.jan.wvu.edu) are two sources for additional information.http://www.eeoc.gov/facts/telework.htmlwww.jan.wvu.edu 23
©SHRM 2008 Major Employment Laws That Apply to Telecommuters (cont’d) The FMLA regulations also apply to telecommuters; however, the office in their home is not considered a worksite. From the DOL regulations: “An employee's personal residence is not a worksite in the case of employees such as salespersons who travel a sales territory and who generally leave to work and return from work to their personal residence, or employees who work at home, as under the new concept of flexiplace. Rather, their worksite is the office to which they report and from which assignments are made.” Source: 24
©SHRM 2008 (Note to presenter: Customize to your organization’s policy.) Telecommuting is not an option when employees are incapacitated with a “serious health condition” and are on approved leave until released by their treating physician. Employees must submit a fitness-for-duty certificate to return to work or supply medical certification allowing the employee to work a reduced schedule or work intermittently. Employees who are on FMLA to care for a family member remain on FMLA until the approved leave time has expired or is no longer needed. Telecommuting is not a substitute for child care when the family member is not covered under the FMLA. 25 n Major Employment Laws That Apply to Telecommuters (cont’d)
©SHRM 2008 Group Discussion Using our company telecommuting and IT policies, discuss in your small group how you would handle the following situation and your reasons why: Maria reports to you that she fell and hurt her back yesterday when she was telecommuting from home. Amy, Maria’s close friend, has already told you about the situation, supplying some additional information. It appears that Maria, while she was logged on for the day, forgot her coffee in the kitchen, and when she went to retrieve it did not see the toy truck left on the floor. When Maria tripped over the toy, she fell into the cabinet, then slid onto the floor, landing on her back. Is her injury covered by workers’ compensation? 26
©SHRM 2008 Group Discussion (cont’d) Using our company telecommuting and IT policies, discuss in your small group how you would handle the following situations and your reasons why. Describe two wage and hour issues when managing nonexempt telecommuters and what your management responsibilities are. Describe three ways you will link this knowledge to your practice of managing telecommuters. 27
©SHRM Questions? Comments?
©SHRM Keeping Telecommuters Informed and Involved Traditional modes of communication, which depend upon face- to-face interaction, need to be supplemented so telecommuters do not feel forgotten when they are off-site. Providing special pre-/post-training and telecommuting orientation can help with the transition. Training content should include: Review of the organization’s telecommuting policy. Use of the organization’s telecommuting equipment. Routine maintenance and troubleshooting of equipment. Management’s preferred contact method. Rules for notifying you and/or IT of equipment problems. Rules for reporting personal injuries or damage to equipment. Number of hours they are expected to work. How unplanned overtime will be handled..
©SHRM 2008 Keeping Telecommuters Informed and Involved (cont’d) You may want to assign a more experienced telecommuter to serve as a “mentor” or “reality check”. Establishing a clear understanding of the following can help keep both telecommuters and on-site employees informed, connected and involved: How often telecommuters will “check in” with the office. When and how often telecommuters are expected in the office. How often telecommuters should check their phone and messages. Include telecommuters in office celebrations, either by making arrangements for them to be on-site or through the use of technology (e.g., audio or video conferencing). 30
©SHRM 2008 Technology (Note to Presenter: Customize to your company.) Technology can be used for keeping telecommuters informed and feeling a part of the workgroup. Video conferencing, the company’s intranet, bulletin boards, instant messaging (IM) and phone calls are effective communication and management tools. 31
©SHRM 2008 Tips for Effective Management of Telecommuters Familiarize yourself with the company’s telecommuting policies. Be sure you understand the selection methods used and can communicate this information to employees. Remember, not all employees or positions are suitable for telecommuting. Have employees test-drive the company’s telecommuting equipment before “going live”. Plan for IT issues and develop contingency plans. Develop telecommuting orientation and training. Develop checklists of supplies needed and provided to employees. Recognize that wage and hour issues, employee safety, workers’ compensation, FMLA, and ADA compliance may be slightly different when managing telecommuters. 32
©SHRM 2008 Clearly define and enforce your ground rules and expectations: How often telecommuters will check in with you. Your preferred contact method. Notifying you and/or IT of equipment problems. Reporting personal injuries or damage to equipment. Number of hours they are expected to work. How unplanned overtime will be handled. Frequency and when telecommuters are expected in the office. How often employees should check their phone and messages. 33 Tips for Effective Management of Telecommuters (cont’d)
©SHRM 2008 Tips for Effective Management of Telecommuters (cont’d) Establish a schedule for face-to-face contact (but be flexible). Recognize that the attributes of an effective telecommuter (self-motivated, works well with limited supervision, low affiliation needs) can also subject the employee to “out of sight, out of mind syndrome” and/or feelings of isolation. Develop resources for addressing these issues. Develop methods for keeping telecommuters informed, integrated and able to collaborate with on-site employees and management. Seek your own support system, such as mentors or coaches, and ask for advice from managers experienced in supervising telecommuters. 34
©SHRM 2008 Group Discussion In your small groups, discuss three ways you plan to: keep your telecommuters informed. foster a collaborative environment. 35
©SHRM 2008 Questions? Comments? 36
©SHRM 2008 Summary Not all positions and not all employees are suitable for telecommuting. You must follow our criteria for selection of telecommuting position and for the characteristics of a successful telecommuting employee. Major federal employment laws that apply to telecommuters are FLSA, Workers’ Compensation, OSHA, ADA, and FMLA. It is extremely important to keep telecommuters informed and feeling part of their workgroup and of the company. Having the best technological resources and planning on how to handle technical difficulties is critical to the successful management of telecommuters. 37
©SHRM Summary (cont’d) Tips for the effective management of telecommuters include having a good knowledge of our telecommuting policies, selecting the right jobs and employees for telecommuting and setting and enforcing clear ground rules and expectations for these off-site employees.
©SHRM 2008 Questions? Comments? 39
©SHRM Course Evaluation Please be sure to complete and leave the evaluation sheet you received with your handouts. Thank you for your attention and interest!
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