“Reasonable diligence” expected from employers
You know it’s important to accurately track and report the hours people work, even if they’re teleworking. The Dept. of Labor (DOL) confirms this in Field Assistance Bulletin No. 2020-5.
The bulletin discusses employers’ responsibility to pay employees for time worked when they’re remote and what’s considered “reasonable diligence” under the law.
Accounting for time worked
Telework may make it difficult to accurately track employees’ hours, especially if they do additional work outside of regular business hours to catch up on projects or tasks.
Even if employees have set hours or shifts, they may often take advantage of the flexibility of working at home to put in extra, unrequested hours.
Employers must pay nonexempt remote employees for all time worked, whether it’s requested or not, if they have actual or constructive knowledge that employees were working.
To make sure all hours employees work are accounted for, employers must do reasonable diligence to ensure their timekeeping and payroll records are correct for remote employees.
One way to accomplish this is by having a procedure in place where employees can report any nonscheduled work time so they can be paid for it.
If the employee fails to use this procedure to report additional hours worked, the employer is not required to do any additional investigation.
While in most cases, employers aren’t expected to dig through records that aren’t related to timekeeping or payroll to see if employees worked extra time, the DOL said exceptions may apply, especially if records show the employer had constructive knowledge of time worked.
In addition, employees should be properly instructed on how to report any unscheduled hours. Otherwise, employers may still be liable if they fail to report the time.
Employers can’t discourage workers from using this process to report these hours, whether explicitly or implicitly via remarks from supervisors or other related actions or practices.