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Employee Experience

Ask HR: Do We Have to Provide Workstations for Remote Employees?

Companies of all types are hiring increasing numbers of remote workers,

or starting to hire them for the first time. When you hire a remote

worker, are you obligated to provide them with a desk and chair for

their home office? This seems like a question with many variables. Let’s

let the expert HR professionals at HR Support Center take it from here.

Question:

Our employees are mostly remote workers. Do we have to provide their

workstation desk and chair or are the employees responsible for this

equipment?

Answer from Eric, HR Pro:

You can provide this equipment for your remote employees, but you

usually do not have to do so.

In some states (such as California), an employer is required either to

provide employees with the tools and items necessary to complete the job

or to reimburse employees for these expenses. However, workstation

equipment like desks and chairs is usually not included in this category

of necessary items.

The advantage of providing such equipment is that employees may be

happier with their work situation and might use company equipment in a

safer manner than they would their own. The disadvantage is shipping

costs and the potential for waste. Some employees may not want this

equipment in their homes, already having their own preferred

workstation.

In nearly every telework arrangement I have been involved in or

analyzed, the employee provided their own workstation. The bottom line

is that employees can often work wherever they prefer: a home office,

their kitchen, the local coffee shop. The place an employee does their

work is really up to them. In addition, OHSA has stated that they have

no intention to inspect employees’ homes for workplace safety. The

safety of an employee’s home workstation is their own personal

responsibility.

There is one exception, however. An employee might request a device or

some form of furniture as a reasonable accommodation under the Americans

with Disabilities Act (ADA) so they can perform the essential functions

of their job. In such cases, you would consider it like any other ADA

request. Providing a back support cushion or computer stand, for

example, would probably not be an undue hardship, and therefore

something you should do.


Eric, HR ProEric

has extensive experience in HR, management, and training. He has held

several senior HR positions, including as the HR & Operations Manager

for an award-winning interactive marketing agency and as HR Director for

a national law firm. Eric graduated with a Bachelor’s of Science in

Economics from the University of Oregon with a minor in Business

Administration. Eric is also active in the community, volunteering with

the regional Human Resources Management Association Advocacy Team and

with youth training programs.


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