According to the Society for Human Resource Management, employee telecommuting is at an all-time high. Their research indicates that from 1996 to 2016, the percentage of employees who work one or more days per week from home has increased about 20%. The industries where most of this increase has occurred are software and marketing firms. There is also a higher concentration of telecommuting at firms in big cities that suffer from consistently heavy rush hour traffic. In cities like Los Angeles, the option to avoid the morning commute is a valuable improvement in quality of life for workers. Businesses also stand to benefit as they can save money by offering telecommuting to skilled employees which drastically reduces overhead costs.

But if you’re a telecommuting employee in California, are you offered the same employee protections under federal and California labor and employment laws? This article will help you understand California telecommuting laws and how they can protect you from illegal employer behaviors.

The Disadvantages of Telecommuting in California

So telecommuting is a win-win situation for businesses and employees, right? Well, that depends on your organization. As Science Daily reports, researchers at Brigham Young University believe that employee telecommuting can cause leadership problems for businesses. Physical presence at the work site may be an indispensable condition for an effective manager, and employees who aren’t at the office often suffer from negative bias on the part of other employees and managers.

Some California Employers Treat Telecommuting Employees Unfairly

Receiving fair compensation and break time can also be an issue for telecommuting workers. Although most employees in high-telecommuting industries like software development are salaried, telecommuting can also be an option for hourly positions. If you are an hourly employee who telecommutes, you are entitled to similar hourly compensation, breaks and overtime as other employees. But employers can sometimes treat telecommuting employees unfairly. Some employers might have a tendency to think of their telecommuters as contractors. Others might ask telecommuting employees to work breaks or fail to pay them for time they spend on certain work tasks, like driving to meetings.

California Labor and Employment Laws Protect Telecommuting Employees

If you’re a telecommuting employee in California, you need to know your employee rights under California’s labor laws. It’s important to understand that telecommuting does not make you exempt from the federal Fair Labor Standards Act or California wage and hour laws. If you get paid on an hourly basis, you are probably nonexempt from the Fair Labor Standards Act and California law, whether you are working in the office or not.

Some employers may be tempted to reclassify you as exempt just because you choose to work outside of the office, but this is not the standard. Also, an employer may try to reclassify you as an independent contractor just because you are telecommuting. If you have a permanent work relationship with your employer to perform tasks that are integral to their business and you don’t invest your own money in the company, you are probably not an independent contractor and receive protection under the FLSA and California’s labor laws.

This means that you benefit from all of the wage and hour protections of the FLSA and the California Department of Industrial Relations. You have a right to all of the breaks and meal periods that these regulations provide you, including two ten-minute breaks and one thirty-minute break for a full eight-hour work day. If you work more than eight hours per day or forty hours per week, you should receive overtime. Remember, working from home does not mean you lose your rights.

Do you think your employer is violating California telecommuting laws? If you are an employee who telecommutes and feel you are being treated unfairly when it comes to pay, rest and break periods or other California labor and employment laws, contact the passionate California employment attorneys at Hennig Ruiz today for a free consultation.