Can Employees Get Paid for “Unauthorized” Telework Hours?

By Stefano Tromba
July 23, 2020

So, like most people these days, you’ve been working from home. But you’re wondering if all the hours you’ve worked, including off-hours and overtime, qualify as “paid” time? Well, you’re in luck! The U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) has issued guidance for both workers and employers on rights and responsibilities under federal leave, wage, and hour laws.

On July 20, the DOL added commonly asked questions and answers to pandemic-related issues under the following acts:

So, to clear things up, here are some commonly asked questions employees may have about “unauthorized” telework hours during the pandemic.

Q: Do employers have to pay employees for unauthorized telework hours?

A: The DOL states that in accordance with the FLSA, employers must pay employees for all hours of telework actually performed. This includes overtime work if the employer knew or had reason to believe the work was performed. “This is true even of hours of telework that you did not authorize,” the DOL said.

Q: Is hazard pay required for employees working through a pandemic?

A: No. Not under federal wage and hour laws. Additional pay is “usually determined privately between employers and employees or their authorized representatives.”

Q: Will telemedicine visits count as in-person visits to establish a serious health condition under the FMLA?

A: Yes! Through Dec. 31, the DOL will consider telemedicine visits to be in-person visits if the visit includes an examination, evaluation, or treatment by a health care provider; is performed by videoconference, and is permitted and accepted by state licensing authorities. Electronic signatures also will be accepted to establish a serious health condition under the FMLA.

For your convenience, here are some DOL resources that include a fact sheet for employees, and a fact sheet for employers.  Also, we’ve added a set of questions and answers about paid sick leave and expanded family and medical leave under the FFCRA.  So, now you’re covered! Hopefully, this helps clear up some of your questions. Don’t forget to follow us on LinkedIn!

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