Talking to your clients about remote work

Telecommuting has really taken off over the past 2+ years. Global pandemic aside, many businesses and employees have found that working at home at least part of the time has many benefits. Yet working from home or having employees working at home can definitely change things from a risk management/commercial insurance perspective.

Have you thought about touching base with your clients to talk about remote work? You’ll want to make sure their insurance program effectively addresses the unique risks of working remotely or having some of their employees telecommuting.

Here are some things that all businesses that allow remote work should consider:

Improve cyber security. Working at home most often means working via the cloud with your own or your company’s laptop and other equipment. Security protocols and insurance coverages should address both in-office and at-home work. Employees should be using private and secured Wi-Fi networks while working remotely. Using an unsecured network — public wi-fi — can put your company’s private information at risk. Require anyone who uses public wi-fi to use a Virtual Private Network (VPN), which keeps their web browsing secure.

Review insurance needs. When employees switch to working from home, workers compensation needs may change. Employers with remote workers potentially can be held liable if an employee is hurt on the job and employees may be eligible for workers’ compensation if they are hurt while working at home. Depending on the circumstances, homeowners and business insurance coverage may need to change.

Create a telecommuting policy. Setting clear work-at-home guidelines and communicating them to employees can help prevent misunderstandings. Business owners should make it clear that remote work is a privilege and that an employer has the right to rescind work-from-home privileges at any time and for any reason. All employees should review and acknowledge their company’s telecommuting policy.

Make sure employees are using devices that are secure with up-to-date firewalls and anti-virus software. This applies to laptops, tablets, and smartphones. It’s your responsibility to keep your customer and client information safe.

Use secure virtual meeting rooms. Make sure that private conversations and presentations cannot be monitored by unauthorized third parties.

Pay close attention to federal wage and hour rules. To avoid violations under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), employers should require non-exempt employees working from home to record the time they work each day and stick to the hours they should be working each day. Non-exempt employees are entitled to overtime pay whether they are working at your company’s facility or at home, so it’s important that employees know they must adhere to their normal working hours and that they are prohibited from working additional hours without your approval.

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