8 Little-Known Laws Governing Flexible Work

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Many types of workers engage in flexible work, including freelancers, contract workers, telecommuters, and employees who work on alternative schedules. These employees often find themselves misunderstood by companies and underrepresented in the law.

1 Million for Work Flexibility, an organization that advocates for flexible work options, recently launched a new policy page detailing federal, state, and local laws that affect flexible workers. Here are a few of the ones we found most interesting:

1. Federal and State Telework Policies

If you’re in a government job and want to work from home, things are looking pretty good for you. As a way to save money for the taxpayer, then-President Obama instituted the Telework Enhancement Act of 2010, requiring all federal agencies to establish telework policies for federal agencies. Many states also have telework policies in place, including Arizona, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Iowa, Michigan, Minnesota, New Hampshire, New Mexico, North Carolina, Ohio, Oregon, South Carolina, Tennessee, Vermont, Virginia, West Virginia, and Wyoming.

2. Telework Week

It’s no secret that commuters jam up infrastructure. To ease congestion on highways and public transportation, Virginia and Georgia began programs that encourage businesses to let employees work at home at least one day per week. In Virginia, participating businesses are eligible for a tax credit.

3. Right to Request

In Vermont, under the Equal Pay Act, employees have the right to request a flexible work arrangement for any reason. Employers must grant the request unless it is “inconsistent with its business operations or its legal or contractual obligations.” There’s a similar city law in Berkeley, California, that allows workers to request part-time work, flexible working hours, predictable working hours, and flexible working arrangements such as telecommuting. Employers may not deny the request without providing a valuable business reason for doing so.

4. No ‘On-Call’ Scheduling

A newly proposed bill would require Connecticut employers to provide employees with 24 hours’ notice of their shifts. Day workers, temporary workers, and healthcare workers would be exempt from protection. The bill is expected to be voted on in 2017.

5. Telecommuting Tax Penalties

Several states have laws on the books that require out-of-state workers to pay state income tax on any earned income from an employer located within the state, even though the worker lives and works in a different state. These states include Delaware, Nebraska, New York, and Pennsylvania.

6. Caregiving Responsibilities

In San Francisco, a local law allows employees at companies of 20 people or larger to request flexible or predictable work hours in order to provide care for a child, an elderly parent, or a sick family member.

7. Flexible Work for Flexible Lives

State employees in Hawaii can request flexible work hours for family reasons — or if they just don’t want to deal with traffic. Not all state agencies participate in the program.

8. Freelance Isn’t Free

Freelancers based in New York City have special protections under the law. Any company doing business with an NYC-based freelancer must provide a contract and timely and full payment for services rendered. The law also protects freelancers against retaliation if they pursue legal action against a client.


If you’re a flexible worker or use flexible workers at your business, a visit to 1 Million for Flexible Work’s policy page may be in order to make sure you are compliant with the laws of not only your own state but also the states you do business in. As many companies and many workers have learned over the years, ignorance of the law is no excuse.

By Jason McDowell