In recent years, telework or remote work has become increasingly popular with private and federal employers. With the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, telework has become the norm for many federal government employees. While telework can be incredibly beneficial for both the employer and employee, there are some legal considerations that those in federal employment need to keep in mind.
In this article, we will discuss some of the legal considerations for telework and federal employment.
Eligibility for Telework
In order to telework as a federal employee, you need to meet certain eligibility requirements. These requirements include having a satisfactory performance and disciplinary record, completing a telework training course, and obtaining management approval. Despite being eligible, not all positions may be conducive to telework.
Teleworking federal employees need to ensure that they are in compliance with the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) of 1938. This act mandates that employees who work more than 40 hours per week are generally entitled to overtime pay. With telework, it can be challenging to track exactly when an employee is working, especially if they work outside of traditional working hours. As such, federal employees who telework are required to record their work hours accurately and managers need to ensure proper oversight to prevent any violations of the FLSA.
An often overlooked aspect of telework is the safety of the employee’s remote workspace. As a federal employee, you are entitled to a safe and healthy working environment, even if that workspace is outside of a traditional office. Federal employers are required to provide teleworking employees with the necessary ergonomically sound equipment and ensure that the workspace is safe and free from hazards.
Federal employees who telework are entitled to workers’ compensation, just like their in-office colleagues. However, it can be challenging to determine if an injury sustained while teleworking is work-related or not. As such, the Department of Labor’s Office of Workers’ Compensation Programs (OWCP) has issued guidelines to assist managers in determining whether incidents that occur during telework hours are eligible for workers’ compensation benefits.
Data Privacy and Security
One of the most significant concerns with remote work is data privacy and security. Teleworking federal employees are responsible for safeguarding any sensitive or confidential information that they work with, even when in a remote workspace. To ensure compliance, employers should provide adequate cybersecurity training to their employees and implement strict data privacy policies. The failure to do so can result in serious legal and financial consequences for both the employer and the employee.
As telework gains popularity, it is essential that federal employees are aware of the legal considerations that come with it. Eligibility, FLSA compliance, workplace safety, workers’ compensation, and data privacy and security are just some of the legal factors to keep in mind. By understanding the legal requirements of telework, federal employees can ensure a safe, comfortable, and compliant remote work environment. If you’re unsure about your rights or responsibilities as a teleworking federal employee, it may be helpful to consult with an employment lawyer who specializes in federal employment law
Federal Employment Lawyers
Your dedication to forging a career in the federal government deserves protection, and The Vaughn Law Firm is here to support you. If your employer has initiated action against you, reach out to our office at 877-212-8089 or fill out our contact form for a complimentary consultation.