Keeping some employees remote? Pay attention to unique legal complexities.

About half of employers that were forced to go remote during the pandemic say they'll continue with at least a hybrid model (a mix of in-person and remote work), according to a recent survey.

If remote work is part of your long-term plan, it's time to get a formal agreement in place (see Online Resource) and to recognize the complications inherent to permanent telework arrangements, including the geography-related issues.

PAYROLL. Employees who live in other states present payroll tax challenges for employers. Each state has unique payroll tax rules. Employees may be taxed both in the state they reside and the one where they work.

Having even one employee in a state may require an employer to register in that state, obtain a business license and pay unemployment insurance and employer payroll taxes. Some states allow credits for taxes paid to other states, some do not.

Weigh all those costs when considering how you will handle employees who work remotely.

HEALTH BENEFITS. A far-flung workforce poses health insurance challenges. An employee several states away may only be able to receive care that is outside your carrier's usual provider network. The higher costs could trigger employer penalties under the Affordable Care Act.

ANTI-BIAS COMPLIANCE. Some states' anti-discrimination laws apply to their residents regardless of where they work. Unwary employers could be sued under the laws of states thousands of miles away and have to defend themselves in those state courts. That's an expensive proposition.

Advice: Work with your attorney to create written employment agreements covering employees who will principally work remotely. Add a clause that lets you choose the legal venue for resolving employment law disputes.

Online resource For a model telecommuting agreement that you can customize for your...

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