Overview of Potential Barriers Facing Employers

GAO-01-926: Published: Jul 11, 2001. Publicly Released: Jul 11, 2001.

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Employers face potential tax, regulatory, and liability barriers when they establish telecommuting programs for their employees. Telecommuting refers to working from remote locations rather than an employer-provided location. Even though telecommuting has grown, some proponents are concerned that various laws and regulations discourage employers from establishing these programs. Many telecommuting proponents believe that significant obstacles to increased use of telecommuting involve internal management concerns on (1) assessing whether the employer has the types of positions and employees suitable for a telecommuting program, (2) maintaining security over sensitive company data while monitoring the actions of remote workers, and (3) ensuring that telecommuting activities do not adversely affect profits. A number of state and federal laws and regulations were also cited as potential barriers to telecommuting by those GAO interviewed. However, several of those laws and regulations cited as potential barriers predate the move toward the more technological and information-based economy in which telecommuting has developed. Thus their application to telecommuting is evolving and is somewhat unclear at this time.

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