Amazon's Return-to-Office Blitz: The Battle for Workforce Waves!

Amazon’s Return-to-Office Blitz: The Battle for Workforce Waves!

How did the COVID-19 pandemic change remote work dynamics for employees?

Over the COVID-19 pandemic many employees began working remotely much if not all of the time. With more and more Canadians shifting back to a more normal way of living given the current state of the COVID-19 pandemic, many employers have begun recalling employees to the office and pre-COVID work arrangements. In particular, Amazon is in the process of releasing a new return to work policy, where it has been reported that those who do not comply will be deemed to have voluntarily resigned from their positions.

Do employees have the right to choose between remote work and office work?

Unless it is explicitly laid out in your employment agreement, employees do not have the right to choose whether they want to work remotely or come into the office. Prior to COVID-19, the expectation for the vast majority of employees was that they would attend the workplace each workday. However, the COVID-19 pandemic created a new norm of remote work arrangements, and many employees do not want to return to going back to the office every day. In fact, a recent poll suggests that 80% of Canadians would begin looking for another job if their employer mandated that they return to the office 100% of the time.

What risks do employers face in terms of employee retention if they enforce office work?

Employers need to consider this information when they decide whether it makes sense to require all employees to return to the office every day. Employers need to manage factors such as employee productivity while remote, the need for in-person interactions for a workplace culture, and the risk of losing valuable employees who might resign if forced to return to the office.  Employees who are forced to return to the office who are unhappy must also consider the fact that if they voluntarily resign they are not entitled to a severance package.

Why is seeking legal counsel important for both employees and employers in this situation?

While Amazon’s voluntary resignation strategy does not appear to be applicable to its Canadian offices yet, this might be a sign of things to come for Amazon employees in Canada and employees of other large organizations in general. If you are an employee considering what to do about being recalled to the office full-time, or an employer considering whether a full-time return to the office for all employees makes sense, we recommend that you seek legal counsel to better understand your rights and risks of the situation. We at Whitten & Lublin are happy to provide insight and advice into your specific circumstances. If you are looking for employment lawyers and would like more information about what Whitten & Lublin can do for you, please contact us online or by phone at (416) 640-2667 today.

Author – Nasyr Asmi