On the final day of 2020, the US Division of Labor (DOL) launched an opinion letter relating to employers utilizing telecommuting agreements in gentle of the COVID-19 pandemic. As a vaccine is within the means of being rolled out and we hope to convey the pandemic beneath management in 2021, this opinion letter gives steerage to employers who’ve needed to set up insurance policies and / or working preparations remotely and hybrids with their workforce.
Particularly, the opinion letter addressed two normal situations:
The worker has a parent-teacher convention in the midst of the day and works from the workplace, attends the convention after which comes residence to complete her work day in her "residence workplace"; and
The worker has an appointment with the physician scheduled for mid-morning. She works a number of hours from residence, goes to her appointment after which goes to her workplace for the remainder of the day. On the finish of the day, she goes residence.
Is the worker's journey time due to this fact compensable? The opinion letter concludes that no. Journey time in both situation is taken into account 'out of service' or regular journey time. Even when the journey time is throughout regular work or "workplace hours", the worker interrupts her working time to cope with private issues. The time is free and the worker is "free to make use of her time effectively and for her personal functions earlier than returning to work".
The opinion letter additionally concludes that the journey time at problem isn’t compensable beneath the site-to-site journey or steady working day doctrine. First, for the workplace-to-workplace journey evaluation to use, the journey should be a part of the worker's important exercise – right here the worker isn’t required to journey inside a part of his work and is due to this fact not compensated. Second, whereas the laws "present that the interval between an worker's first and final important exercise will probably be 'typically' compensable," this won’t be the case when the worker makes use of the time for her personal functions. To help its opinion, the DOL evaluations quite a lot of court docket choices that emphasize flexibility and the liberty of workers to make use of their time for their very own ends. The place relevant, employers ought to seek the advice of with a reliable lawyer to make sure that these insurance policies and preparations adjust to relevant regulation.
In gentle of the 'new regular' that has emerged in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, employers are inspired to assessment telecommuting insurance policies and / or agreements to make sure that regardless of the flexibleness these paperwork have are supposed to supply, it’s clear to workers that point “truly used for their very own functions” throughout their working day won’t be compensable.