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Do OSHA and other laws cover telecommuting?

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in Employment Law,Human Resources

Q. We recently hired someone who will be working from home three days a week. Do OSHA’s regulations and standards apply to home offices? And are there any other laws we would need to be concerned about regarding telecommuting?

A. Yes, OSHA regulations apply to workspaces lo­­cated in a home office. So do most other employment-related laws. Also, you might be obligated to provide a reasonable accommodation under the ADA if the employee needs one. If the employee is injured while performing his or her job, workers’ compensation law applies.

Wage-and-hour laws also apply. That means any time a nonexempt employee spends working at home must be documented and paid for.

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J.P. Purswell April 24, 2013 at 9:37 am

OSHA may claim the authority to cite for some of the hazards to which telecommuting employee are exposed, but the likelihood of OSHA showing up at the home of a telecommuting employee is quite remote. I’m not aware of any such inspections. Additionally there was a letter of interpretation issued by OSHA during the Bush (43) administration specifically stating that OSHA did NOT expect to cite employers of telecommuters for ergonomic hazards present in a employee’s home office. When you stop to consider that OSHA did not manage a visit to West, Texas fertilizer plant in the decade before the fire, you can appreciate how far down the priority list inspecting home offices for any citable hazards would be.

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