The Maryland Commissioner of Financial Regulation issued an emergency regulation on January 22 putting procedures into place for remote work for employees of state-regulated entities — including debt collectors. The regulation is scheduled to be published on January 29 and is valid for 6 months while the regulator begins the public comment process of a proposed final regulation.
The regulator recognized the unique need for remote work as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic and, at the same time, balancing it with the need of continued protecting consumers. Due to this, the regulation includes several requirements, including rules around:
- Employee location. For example, the location cannot receive mail or physical payments (such as cash or checks) and cannot be used for document storage. The location must also provide a workspace that is secure in order to protect the personal information of consumers.
- Security requirements. These include monitoring the security program to ensure it is functioning properly. There is also a section that discusses procedures in the event that a data breach occurs.
- Employee Supervision. Including the requirement to terminate the employee's permission to work from home if the regulator determines that the licensee does not have sufficient supervision of the employee.
This is an excellent step forward by Maryland's regulators. COVID-19 pushed many employers — including those within the industry — to allow remote work for their employees, and it seems like remote work is here to stay in some form or another. The work undertaken by Maryland's regulators to both recognize this trend and create a workable solution is great news, and hopefully, other states follow it.
The Consumer Relations Consortium (CRC) played a pivotal role in proposing a framework that state regulators could use as a strawman to think through this regulation. Stephanie Eidelman, Executive Director of the CRC said, "We are proud of our role in this example of government and industry working together to develop reasonable and practical regulation."