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4 Implications of Hybrid Work for Concrete Contractors

Maskot/Alamy Stock Photo Male building contractor using computer while working in office
While employers may be accommodating—and perhaps celebrating—the flexibility of a hybrid workforce, there are legal issues to consider when implementing this at your own concrete contracting company. Trent Cotney of Cotney Attorneys & Consultants presents a few to keep in mind as this work model grows in popularity.

Ever since the COVID-19 pandemic spread across the country and around the world, the work environment has changed. Many employees have decided to work from home permanently, while others have adopted a hybrid model. However, while employers may be accommodating—and perhaps celebrating—the hybrid flexibility, there are legal issues to consider.

Understanding the hybrid model for concrete contractors

These days, more than 60% of employers offer hybrid options to their employees. Hybrid work allows employees to work some days at home and some days onsite. For many, this is a wonderful balance of independence and social interaction. However, hybrid work raises questions surrounding taxes, expense reimbursements, overtime and equal treatment of employees.

When you provide the hybrid option for your company, clearly communicate how often and under what circumstances you expect employees to come to the workplace. Spell that out in offer letters and contracts, and make sure both home and work locations are consistent in all your company systems. Clarity will go a long way in keeping this working arrangement on track.

Here are four other concerns to keep in mind when considering hybrid work: 

1. Tax implications

Do any of your employees live in one state but work onsite in another? If so, you may need to pay income taxes in both states. This requirement is called the nexus rule. Some states waived this obligation during the pandemic, but many may have reinstated it. Be sure to check local regulations.

In addition, unemployment tax and corporate tax rates can vary by state. Therefore, you must know what rates apply to your employees.

2. Reimbursement

Will you be providing office equipment for your workers’ home workspaces? And will you be reimbursing them for cellphones, utilities and internet service? Before agreeing to the hybrid model, you need to answer these questions. In several states and Washington, D.C., employers must reimburse remote workers for office supplies and other expenses. Check the laws in your state, and then set your policy.

3. Overtime for hybrid and remote construction employees

As you know, nonexempt employees are eligible for overtime pay, and you must comply with that law no matter where your office is. But overtime can be tricky with a hybrid model, as it may be more challenging to monitor breaks, recordkeeping and hours worked.

Take the time to review tax rules and Fair Labor Standards Act requirements when an employee stays in the same job but moves to a different state. For example, in some states, overtime is calculated based on the workweek, but in other states, it is calculated by day. Determine what type of timekeeping system will work for your nonexempt employees.

4. Equal treatment across the hybrid model

For any employer, treating all workers fairly and equally is paramount. But in a hybrid model, that expectation can be harder to meet. So, from the get-go, make sure that no decisions about hybrid work discriminate against any specific groups. You never want to mistreat anyone based on gender, age, race, religion or other protected statuses. Keeping that in mind, create a clear policy about permitting hybrid work. Also, be sure to train all managers and other supervisors in consistently carrying out that policy.

As more employees work remotely or in a hybrid arrangement, more communication occurs online. So, take the time to train all employees to interact professionally on digital platforms. Remind them that discrimination and harassment can happen online—just as in person—and sometimes intentions are easily misinterpreted. You want to avoid any appearance of mistreatment, whether your employees are in the conference room or at their kitchen table.

Final advice for concrete contractors

Managing a staff has always been challenging, and it can be even more difficult if your workers are located all over the country. If you have questions about accommodating hybrid work and the related implications, do not hesitate to consult legal counsel. An experienced employment attorney can advise you on state laws and help you navigate all the issues involved in new working arrangements.

The information contained in this article is for general educational information only. This information does not constitute legal advice, is not intended to constitute legal advice, nor should it be relied upon as legal advice for your specific factual pattern or situation.

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