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.
Our employees are mostly remote workers. Do we have to provide their
workstation desk and chair or are the employees responsible for this
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
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
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.
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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