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Employment law

flexible work

Flextime, work from home (WFH), compressed workweek, shift work, job-sharing, part-time work, telecommuting, telework, hoteling, and snowbird programs are all flexible forms of work that are increasingly attractive to employees. But employers considering implementing one or more of these flexible forms of employment must be aware of a number of legal issues and the related federal and state statutes—including:

• equal employment opportunity compliance (nondiscrimination laws)

• wage and hour compliance (FLSA)

• benefits compliance (ERISA)

• workers’ compensation (state workers’ compensation statutes)

• occupational safety and health (OSH Act)

• disability accommodation (ADA)

• privacy and confidentiality (e-mail, phone, internet use)

• independent contractor/employee status (proper classification)

In Texas, employers offering flexible work arrangements such as flextime, WFH, and telecommuting must comply with various federal and state laws. Equal employment opportunity laws, such as Title VII and the Texas Labor Code, prohibit discrimination in employment practices. Wage and hour compliance is governed by the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), which sets standards for minimum wage, overtime, and recordkeeping. Benefits compliance falls under the Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA), which affects how employers must manage and provide employee benefits. Texas employers must also adhere to state workers' compensation statutes to provide coverage for work-related injuries or illnesses. The Occupational Safety and Health (OSH) Act requires employers to ensure a safe working environment, which can include home offices for telecommuters. The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) mandates reasonable accommodations for employees with disabilities, which may include flexible work options. Privacy issues, such as the use of email, phone, and internet, must be handled carefully to protect employee confidentiality. Lastly, proper classification of workers as either employees or independent contractors is crucial to comply with tax laws and avoid misclassification penalties. Employers should consult with an attorney to ensure all legal requirements are met when implementing flexible work programs.

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