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HR SOLUTIONS: ASK A SHRM HR KNOWLEDGE ADVISOR
ARE WE REQUIRED TO LET AN
EMPLOYEE ON SHORT-TERM
DISABILITY WORK FROM HOME WHILE
RECUPERATING FROM SURGERY?
For more HR Q&As, go to shrm.org/hrinfo
No. In fact, you should treat such an individual in the same manner you would any other employee making a request to work remotely. So, if you allow telecommuting in certain circumstances, consider whether it
makes sense as an option for an employee returning to work after an illness
Start by reviewing any medical documentation to confrm that the employee has been released to return to work and determine if he or she has any
physical limitations that would impact a work-from-home arrangement. Consider whether to require a doctor to certify that the employee is able to work in
accordance with your normal ftness-for-duty policies.
Think, too, about how your decision will affect time off under the Family
and Medical Leave Act (FMLA). Any time that employees spend doing
their jobs cannot be counted against their entitlement. So, if a worker is on
FMLA leave for the surgery, allowing remote work can extend the amount
of FMLA time available to him or her beyond 12 workweeks. For example,
if a person normally works 40 hours a week and now
performs 10 hours of work while on leave,
only 30 hours can be counted toward
the employee’s FMLA entitlement.
Check your short-term disability plan
to determine if partial benefts are avail-
able under that insurance. Finally, take into
account the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA)
and any other pay implications of permitting an
employee to work a partial day while recuperating.
The pay process for nonexempt workers is simple.
You are required to compensate such employees only
for hours worked. That said, be sure to record all nonex-
empt time worked and provide appropriate payment to
comply with the FLSA.
Exempt employees, on the other hand, must be paid a
minimum guaranteed salary that is not based on quantity or
quality of work. Moreover, pay deductions for absences must
meet the requirements of the salary basis regulation; other-
wise, the employee’s exempt status could be in jeopardy. Visit
the Department of Labor’s website for further guidance.
In short, there’s no one-size-fts-all answer here. In some
cases, it will make sense to allow telework, while in others
it won’t be conducive to the employee’s recovery or the
employer’s needs. Evaluate the specifcs of each situation
to fgure out the best approach.
—Angela Simpson, an HR Knowledge Advisor for SHRM