California’s Remote Employee Laws

Posted by Sessions & Kimball |

The rise of remote work has prompted significant changes in employment law, particularly in California. It is essential for remote employees to understand the specific regulations and protections that apply to their work arrangement. California’s labor laws extend to remote workers, ensuring that they receive the same rights and benefits as those working on-site.

Definition of a Remote Employee

A remote employee is an individual who executes their job responsibilities from a location outside of their employer’s central office. Employers are obligated to ensure their remote workers receive fair compensation for the work accomplished. For remote employees, the company deducts taxes, Social Security, and Medicare from their wages.

This is different from an independent contractor. Independent contractors are responsible for their own taxes and often operate their own businesses, entering into agreements with companies for specific tasks. Unlike employees, independent contractors are not covered under employment and labor laws, which can make them advantageous for employers seeking to sidestep costs such as training, sick leave, benefits, meal periods, and overtime.

Key Provisions of the Fair Labor Standards Act

The Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) is a federal labor law in the United States that sets standards for employment conditions. Some of the key provisions that apply to remote work in California include:

Minimum Wage: The FLSA establishes the federal minimum wage for nonexempt employees, ensuring a baseline income standard across the United States. As of January 1, 2024, the minimum wage in California is set at $16.00 per hour for all employers, regardless of the size of the company.

It is important to note that some cities and counties within California have enacted higher minimum wages than the state’s rate to better address local cost of living variations. Employers must comply with these regulations to ensure fair compensation for their workers.

Overtime Pay: The FLSA mandates that employers pay overtime to eligible employees at a rate of at 1.5x their regular pay for hours worked beyond 40 in a workweek.

Recordkeeping: Employers covered by the FLSA are required to maintain specific records regarding employees’ wages, hours worked, and other employment conditions to ensure compliance with the law.

Exempt and Nonexempt Status: The FLSA categorizes employees as either exempt or nonexempt based on criteria including salary level, salary basis, and job duties. Generally, exempt employees are not eligible for overtime pay, whereas nonexempt employees are eligible.

Equal Pay: The FLSA includes provisions to ensure equal pay for equal work, irrespective of gender. It prohibits wage discrimination based on sex and requires that men and women performing substantially similar work receive equal pay.

Anti-Discrimination and Harassment Laws

California’s anti-discrimination and harassment laws apply to remote work, requiring employers to ensure a safe and inclusive environment regardless of where their employees are located. Employers must enforce anti-discrimination and harassment policies, provide training, and address complaints promptly.

Remote workers are afforded the same legal protections as office employees, safeguarding them from discrimination or harassment based on race, gender, sexual orientation, disability, and other protected characteristics. If you have been discriminated against or harassed on the basis of any of these protected characteristics, an Orange County workplace discrimination attorney can assist you with filing a claim.

Remember, your rights as a remote worker in California are protected by various state labor laws. If you’re having issues with your rights, act proactively. Don’t hesitate to reach out to our Orange County employment attorneys for legal help. Contact us today to schedule a free consultation.