Employment Law Commentary: How to Save Gas . . . and Prevent Heartburn: The Legal Issues Surrounding Telecommuting

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If you skipped this morning’s commute and are reading this article in your jammies, you understand the benefits of telecommuting. You are not alone. Although fewer than two percent of working Americans are considered to be full time telecommuters, roughly 20 to 30 million people telecommute at least one day per week.1 There was a 39% increase in the number of employees working from home at least one day per month between 2006 to 2008, from 12.4 million to 17.2 million.2

Both employers and employees can enjoy the perks of telecommuting. Employees are able to reduce or eliminate their commute time, reducing the amount of money spent on gas or public transportation. Working from home may also help employees achieve that ever elusive work-life balance. Telecommuting also benefits employers due to increased satisfaction and productivity in employees, often resulting in higher retention rates. There is more to telecommuting, though, than this picture of work-at-home nirvana suggests. Telecommuting causes a host of practical and legal issues, which can trap the unwary employer, and although a telecommuting arrangement may initially appeal to both the employee and employer, it is important to take a closer look at the legal issues related to telecommuting before approving such an arrangement.

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