Can Employees Choose Remote Work Post-COVID?
With many Canadians having grown accustomed to working remotely during the COVID-19 pandemic, many now do not want to return to the office full time. 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 into 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.
Employers’ Response: Remote and Hybrid Work Policies
This shift in work location has resulted in many employers creating remote or hybrid working policies for employees to work remotely. This trend towards remote work is leading some to feel pressure to work even while sick. Prior to the pandemic, if someone were sick they would take a sick day and have the day off at home to recover. However, now that many are already working from home, sick employees are often feeling pressure from their employers to not use a sick day and to instead work when they are not feeling well.
Employers should be careful to avoid putting this pressure on employees. Instead, employers should make sure that employees feel comfortable to take a sick day when they are not feeling well and to truly disconnect from work when they are unwell and on a sick day. Studies have shown that those working remotely often struggle with balancing their work and personal lives, as the line between the two often gets blurred while working from home. Employers should ensure that they have proper Right to Disconnect policies in place, as required by law, and proper remote and/or hybrid work policies in place as well to ensure that employees rights are being protected.
Protecting Employee Rights with Remote Work Policies
If you are an employee struggling with your work-life balance while working remotely or an employer looking to establish proper policies, 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