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HR tips from industry experts.

How State Laws Affect Remote Work

Cymone Carlson, SHRM-SCP
by Cymone Carlson, SHRM-SCP on September 2, 2022

Since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, remote work has become a common reality for many companies. While the flexibility gave both employers and employees the ability to safely continue working and presented employers with a wider talent pool to hire from, remote work can pose difficulties that may not have been taken into account. As employees work from home in different states, the laws of the state where the work is performed, and not where the company is based, typically dictate employee rights, from an employee’s ability to review their personnel record to when they receive their final paycheck.

Here are some topics to be aware of if you have employees working remotely in other states:

State-Specific Leaves:
While some states are sparse on providing any type of leave above and beyond federal requirements, such as FMLA, other states can require employers to provide various types of protected leave. For instance, California requires employers with 25 or more employees to accommodate an employee who reveals a literacy problem and is seeking help, which could consist of an employer allowing an employee to leave early or arrive late to attend a literacy program. Meanwhile, Iowa provides protected leave for employees that have to miss work to attend required drinking and driving classes.
 
Required Paid Sick Leave and PTO:
Most states don’t require employers pay for time employees are not working, (with the exception of exempt employees in certain situations) but there are a growing number of locations that require paid sick leave. At this time, 15 states, the District of Columbia, and many major cities and counties require employers to provide paid sick leave to their employees, even if they are part-time. And while the vast majority of states do not require employers to provide paid time off for vacation or personal reasons, Nevada and Maine do things a little differently by requiring employers to provide earned paid leave depending on the size of the company.
 
Access to Records:
When it comes to private employers, most states do not require an employer provide workers with access to their personnel records. However, some states require employers to not only grant workers access to their personnel record, but may also have requirements for the number of times per year an employer must allow a worker access to their information, how soon after a request an employer must grant access, along with the length of time after termination an employer must allow their terminated employee access to their records.

For example, Connecticut employers must allow employees to review their personnel file up to two times per year and must allow access to the file within seven business days of their request and within ten business days for terminated employees up to a year after termination.
 
Termination Pay:
As employees exit the company, do you know when their final pay must be paid out? The majority of states say that the final paycheck can be paid at the regularly scheduled pay date but there can be exceptions. Oregon states if an employee is involuntarily terminated, they must be paid their final wages by the end of the following business day, and if an employee resigns with at least 48 hours’ notice, they must be paid on their last day.
 

Additionally, if you provide paid time off, some states, such as Illinois and Nebraska, require a payout of any unused, accrued paid time off, regardless of company policy. Other states, such as New York, will require payout of unused PTO at termination unless your policy specifically states otherwise.

Payroll:
While the federal minimum wage currently sits at $7.25 per hour and $684 per week for exempt employees, many states have their own minimum wages. Florida’s minimum wage is $10 per hour until September 30, when it is scheduled to increase to $11 per hour.
 

Meanwhile in California, the minimum salary for exempt employees is the hourly minimum wage multiplied by two; for California employers with 26 or more employees, that means the exempt employee minimum salary is $1,200 per week. Additionally, some states may calculate overtime differently, for example, Colorado requires overtime pay if an employee works more than 12 hours in a workday.

Because of the variety of employee rights around the country, it’s always a good idea to check the local laws if you are planning to hire someone to work remote from another state or even major city. FrankCrum can help your company with preparing to hire in other states and answer your compliance questions, please contact us. We're here to help!

Cymone Carlson, SHRM-SCP
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Cymone Carlson, SHRM-SCP

Cymone Carlson is a FrankAdvice Sr. Human Resources Consultant. She is a Senior Certified Professional in Human Resources (SHRM-SCP) and holds a Master’s degree from the University of Florida. Cymone has firsthand HR experience working within nonprofits, manufacturing, distribution, healthcare, hospitality, and government contracts.

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