Working from home in the USA
We wrote about how do you learn when working from home recently. Three million people are now working from home in The Netherlands. This is 37% of all workers. In 2013 this was 34%.
Working from home in the USA
Although on the rise, the number of people working from home in the USA usually or occasionally is surprisingly low: 3.9 million. This is 900.000 people more than in The Netherlands but with a population 19 times larger than the Netherlands this is a low number.
3% of all U.S. workers work from home, compared with 37% in The Netherlands. In 2005, 1.8 million U.S. workers usually or occasionally worked from home.
The U.S. perspective
Whereas the focus in our previous article was on learning, in the USA the focus is more on the legal concerns for employers. The advice is to devise a telecommuting policy that protects the employer. We quote:
- “Wage-and-hour compliance. Employers must document how much time non-exempt employees work—even if they’re working where you can’t see them—and pay time-and-a-half for overtime. Give teleworkers strict guidelines regarding their work hours and discipline them if they work beyond that schedule.
- Workplace injuries and insurance. It’s difficult to determine if an injury is work-related when the workplace is the home. The good news: OSHA doesn’t inspect home offices. The bad news: That doesn’t necessarily mean you won’t be liable in case of an injury. Therefore, regularly inspect teleworkers’ home offices. A particular problem: Tangles of computer cables and extension cords that can pose a fire hazard. Check for smoke alarms, ease of evacuation and ergonomic design of work stations. Ensure your liability insurance covers mishaps that happen when a co-worker, vendor or client visits a telecommuter’s home.
- Privacy. If you want to have access to employees’ home-based computers, spell that out in a policy and in a telework agreement signed by the employee and a company rep. If you pay for the phones, computers and internet connections telecommuters use (and you can handle inevitable grumbling), you can forbid workers from using them for personal tasks.
- Accommodations for disabled employees. You must offer disabled employees the same opportunities to work from home as everyone else. That could mean making exceptions to your telecommuting policies, such as waiving length-of-service requirements before employees becoming eligible to telework.
- Equal treatment. Administer telecommuting arrangements in a consistent, non-discriminatory manner. Best bet: Spell out in a policy which jobs can and can’t be performed off-site. Stress that telecommuting is strictly at your discretion.”
A long way to go
An U.S. HR Specialist wrote the above quote. When the good news is that “OSHA [Occupational Safety and Health Administration of the United. States Department of Labor] doesn’t inspect home offices” you know working from home in the USA still has a long way to go. Working from home is surrounded by rules and regulations. The focus is on avoiding liability and making sure you are covered in case of an incident or injury. Working from home in the USA limits an employee more than that it enables and empowers him in the USA.
We recommend visiting The Netherlands.
Adapted from source