Employment Rights for Remote Workers: Which Florida Laws Apply?

remote worker on their computer

With the increased popularity of remote work and other forms of telecommuting in Florida, it is important for Floridians who work from home to understand what rights they have as employees under federal, state, and local laws.

Regardless of whether an employer intentionally mistreats a remote worker, violating laws that apply to remote workers should not be tolerated. Allowing employee abuse often leads to escalation and increased harm.

If you work from home or another remote location in Florida, you have employment rights. At Cruz Law Firm, P.A., we are fiercely committed to protecting remote workers’ employment rights and stopping businesses from violating labor laws for remote employees. Our employment law attorneys have helped many workers in Tallahassee and throughout the Florida Panhandle assert their rights and demand compensation for violations of anti-discrimination laws and other violations of employment law.

Contact us today to speak with an experienced Tallahassee employment lawyer.

Regulations for Remote Employment in Florida

If you have begun to work remotely in Florida as an employee of someone else’s company, nothing about your rights as an employee has changed.

Your employer’s authority over you, as it pertains to assigning work, setting pay, performance appraisal, discipline, and termination, does not change just because you work from home. Their obligations to you do not change, either.

As a remote employee, you have rights that include your right to:

  • Equitable compensation for the work you perform at a rate that satisfies Florida’s minimum wage and is subject to state and federal withholdings and overtime compensation if your position qualifies
  • State and federal holidays and other legally mandated leave availabilities via the federal Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) or maternity leave available to state employees
  • Be treated with respect and dignity, free from discrimination, and with reasonable accommodations as required by law
  • A workplace that is safe, healthful, and free of recognized hazards
  • Workers’ compensation insurance if a business employs four or more people. A remote worker who is injured while performing a work-related task should be eligible to file a claim for workers’ compensation benefits to cover expenses related to medical treatment and lost wages related to a workplace injury.

The Proper Work Week and Overtime Pay for a Remote Worker

working remotely at home in FloridaThe most prevalent mistreatment of remote workers is many employers’ tendency to abuse a remote worker’s time. The employer may expect that, since your work is close at hand, you can easily handle extra duties or answer questions that have come up outside of regular work hours.

Unless your position is classified as exempt from overtime compensation requirements, you should be paid overtime for any work activities performed in excess of 40 hours in a five-day work week.

Exemptions under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) are not always clearly spelled out. If you disagree with your employer’s claim that you don’t qualify for overtime pay, you should consult an unpaid wages lawyer.

Compensation includes fringe benefits. Remote workers are entitled to the same benefits as are offered to other employees, such as health insurance, retirement plans, and paid time off.

Finally, a remote worker should expect their expenses to be reimbursed, just as any other employee would. Therefore, where an in-office worker would be supplied a desk, chair, computer, and notepads, the remote worker should also be provided this equipment or reimbursed for its cost. A remote worker who must be online should be reimbursed for at least a portion of the cost of their internet service.

Employer’s Responsibilities for Remote Work Setups

Under the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970, employers are required to provide their employees with working conditions that are free of known hazards. If an employer agrees to a work-at-home arrangement, the employer must ensure that their employee works in a safe environment. This includes making reasonable accommodations for an employee’s disabilities, as required by the Americans with Disabilities Act.

Employers are responsible for hazards caused by materials, equipment, or work processes that the employer provides or requires to be used in an employee’s home. However, an employer is only responsible for ensuring that an employee has a safe and healthy workplace within the home, not a safe and healthy home.

Further, OSHA says in its most recent directive that the agency will not hold employers liable for employees’ home offices and does not expect employers to inspect the home offices of their employees. If an employee makes a specific request, OSHA may informally let employers know of complaints about home office conditions but will not follow up with the employer or employee.

Navigating Florida Unemployment Benefits for Remote Workers

In Florida, the unemployment benefits program is known as the Reemployment Assistance Program. Employers are charged a tax according to the number of people they employ. Employees do not pay reemployment tax, and employers must not make payroll deductions for this purpose.

To qualify for Florida unemployment benefits:

  • You must have lost your job through no fault of your own.
  • You must be able to work, available to work, and actively seeking work.
  • You must have earned at least $3,400 before taxes during the “base period,” which is the first four complete quarters beginning 18 months prior to your claim.
  • You must be totally or partially unemployed. Partially unemployed means your hours were reduced, or you’re a part-time worker who can’t find additional work.

The distinction between part-time and full-time work is what’s important for the remote worker and is a reason to keep accurate work records. The amount of your benefit will be based on the number of hours worked each week. Remote workers who work full-time should qualify for the full benefits available.

Florida also makes unemployment benefits available to self-employed workers and independent contractors.

Here’s how to apply for unemployment in Florida.

Talk to an Experienced Tallahassee Employment Rights Lawyer

Working from home may have become the new normal for remote workers. However, it does not change employer obligations to meet the requirements of labor laws for remote employees. If you work from home and believe that you aren’t receiving the correct wages or are experiencing discrimination in a remote work environment in northern Florida, reach out to an employment attorney at Cruz Law Firm today.

At Cruz Law Firm, P.A., we stand up for employee rights in Tallahassee and throughout the Florida Panhandle. We have over 18 years of combined legal experience and are dedicated to representing employees in matters involving unjust treatment and discriminatory practices. We understand which employment laws apply to you if you work from home. We’ll work to make sure your employer meets their obligations to you and compensates you for the harm you have already suffered.

Contact us now for a free consultation. Let us put our experience to work for you.

At Cruz Law Firm, P.A., we represent employees in Tallahassee, Jacksonville, and throughout the Florida Panhandle. We’ll fight to protect your employment rights, from workplace discrimination and sexual harassment to wrongful termination and whistleblower claims. Let us put our experience to work for you.