Employee Telecommuting Guidelines

With challenges in hiring in our smaller communities, employers may look for creative ways to recruit or retain workers, especially those with specific skills that are more difficult to fill. One option they may consider is allowing an employee to work from a remote location; perhaps in another Alaskan city, or even another state. This type of arrangement is referred to as “telecommuting” and it may be a good option for some types of jobs and some employees.

If an employer is considering allowing an employee to telecommute, there are a number of factors that need to be taken into consideration. APEI has prepared guidelines and several tools members may use when setting up a telecommuting arrangement.

Organizational Telecommuting Policy

Prior to instituting any telecommuting arrangement, the employer should adopt a telecommuting policy which clearly defines eligibility for telecommuting, equipment and security considerations, workspace requirements, and time worked requirements. APEI has a sample policy that members may adopt or modify for their organization.

Positions Suitable for Telecommuting

An employer needs to examine the position carefully to ensure it is suitable for a telecommuting arrangement. Considerations include:

  • Employee suitability. The employer and the employee will assess the needs and work habits of the employee, compared to the traits customarily recognized as appropriate for successful telecommuters.
  • Job responsibilities. Are the responsibilities of the position conducive to telework? Consider if the work can be completed remotely with minimal workflow interruption, any responsibilities that may require the employee to be at a designated work site, and the frequency and cost of anticipated travel to the work site.
  • Equipment needs, workspace design considerations and scheduling issues. Can the organization’s technology support the arrangement? Is the proposed workspace safe and appropriate? What hours will the employee work and how will this be tracked?
  • Tax and other legal implications. Employers and employees need to be aware of tax implications of an employee working in another state. The employee must also be aware of any state/local laws or restrictions on working out of a home-based office wherever they are based.

Telecommuting Agreement

A telecommuting agreement between the employer and employee should be made and must include clear expectations and requirements. Items to cover will include work hours, child care/housework during work hours, amount and form of communication with the office, work days, equipment and supplies provided by the employer, reimbursable expenses, work space setup, and safety issues, responsibility for reporting injuries. APEI has a sample agreement and checklist members may develop for their organization.

Workers’ Compensation

APEI is licensed to write workers’ compensation in Alaska but not in any other state. In order to meet their statutory obligation to provide WC for their employees, employers will need to purchase an additional policy for employees living and working full time outside Alaska. APEI is able to help our members procure this coverage.

To request copies of the sample telecommuting policy, agreement, or checklist, or to request a quote for workers’ compensation coverage for an out-of-state employee, please contact APEI.