Legal Issues When Managing a Remote Team

By Emma Worden | remote work | October 24, 2022

Hiring a remote workforce can bring great benefits to any company, such as attracting the best talent and reducing the overhead expenses that often come with location-dependent employees. However, remote workers can also present unique legal implications that employers must consider, as each legal issue could be a liability for the business. With that in mind, here are some legal issues you might experience when managing a remote team, as well as methods to adequately address them:

Hiring and interviewing remote workers

Although job postings and subsequent interviews are a natural part of the recruitment process, these factors can come with legal ramifications, even in terms of remote workers. When posting job openings, pay special attention to any language that suggests that a certain type or class of individuals won’t be considered. The most common example of this is stating that you are seeking young employees who are active on social media. During the interview process, problematic topics to avoid include discussions of age, gender or sex, race or ethnicity, religion, country of birth, disability, marital or family status, and previous salaries. Remain neutral to make your business more professional and avoid liability.

Ensuring security and privacy for remote teams

Communication with remote teams happens in a decentralized environment. Employees will have access to sensitive information about your business, and you won’t have much control over who else can view that data. Data breaches exposing sensitive business information and personal customer information aren’t uncommon, even for large corporations. That is why you must prioritize the security and privacy of your company’s data. Establish strict security and privacy policies, and make sure that everyone in your company understands and follows them, including remote employees. Additional measures such as using secured private networks, encryption, and two-factor authentication are also recommended for protecting privacy.

Taking care of payroll issues and processes

Remote teams often work from different locations, cities, states, or even countries. As all of these areas can come with unique laws and regulations, it’s your responsibility to ensure compliance in each location. You should collect at least the basic information and share it with your payroll provider to make sure you are paying employees accordingly. This includes the minimum wage in the worker’s location, necessary information for paystubs, overtime calculation, payroll tax calculation, payday frequency, payroll deduction, and paycheck delivery obligations. Check with your service provider or payroll department that compliance with each location’s regulations is a priority, and assign oversight responsibilities.

Complying with international employment laws

Similar to the payroll, hiring employees from different locations can also mean complying with labor and employment laws in those areas. This can be quite a complex process, especially because your company may have to register in certain countries to be able to legally pay local employees. Talk to your HR department to learn how they’re currently handling international employee situations. When hiring new workers, contacting employment contract lawyers might be the best course of action. Having extensive knowledge of employment laws and your legal obligations, these experts will help you write suitable employment contracts, negotiate terms, and ensure compliance.

Complying with posting and notification laws

In many countries worldwide, companies are legally required to display postings and notifications informing employees of their legal responsibilities and rights. But employers often don’t realize that this obligation also extends to remote workers. Suppose your remote teams work from the office several times a month or visit your physical location frequently. In that case, you may already comply with these regulations if you display the necessary labor law postings in the workplace. If not, sending this information to your remote employees electronically can be a viable and compliant solution. Include notifications regarding workplace injuries, requests for leave, termination, and pregnancy in this process as well.

Managing the health and safety aspects

The fact that remote teams aren’t physically present in the workplace doesn’t mean that your company doesn’t have to follow the necessary health and safety laws. It’s up to you, as the employer, to determine the potential risks and hazards that could come with working remotely. You will also be responsible for implementing clear measures for mitigating and controlling these risks. You can achieve this by reviewing potential hazards with your remote workers to ensure that risk assessments and control measures are accurate. You should also offer health and safety training, establish support systems, and provide opportunities for reporting and investigating illnesses, injuries, and accidents.

Providing harassment training to employees

Considering all the challenges of running a business and managing a remote team, harassment training might not be on your radar. Most employers know the importance of preventing workplace harassment under normal circumstances and have taken the necessary steps to mitigate this issue. However, harassment is often overlooked when teams work remotely, with employees believing it’s less of an issue. Unfortunately, workplace harassment still happens in virtual environments and continues to represent a major concern for businesses. That is why it’s crucial to protect your company. A great solution is self-guided training, which enables workers to complete harassment training both at home and in the office.

Managing remote teams comes with a number of legal complications. Keep the advice mentioned above in mind and designate a department in your company to take care of the legal issues surrounding your remote workforce and ensure compliance.