Several other studies conducted in recent months indicated that many employees preferred to work from the comfort of their own home several days a week or even full time rather than returning to the office.
Faced with this new dynamic, what can employers do (and not do)? How can they adapt their policies so that they are fair and equitable for all their workers, whether they are working remotely or present in the office?
Of course, the same laws apply to employees, regardless of how they work — whether Workmen’s Compensation Act or the Occupational Health and Safety Actrecalls Marie-Hélène Jolicœur, partner at Lavery, specializing in labor law.
“The employer has an interest in adopting a clear telework policy,” she says. He must specify his expectations regarding the working hours to be respected as well as the number of days when remote work is possible. You can also find information on the dress code to follow during professional meetings by videoconference as well as on the disciplinary measures that could be imposed. »
This policy must be applied consistently to avoid inequities. “The employer can however show flexibility and adapt its practices according to its workforce, suggests the lawyer. In the current context, there is an issue of attracting and retaining the workforce that must be taken into account. »
With employees working from home, the company still has an obligation to ensure the confidentiality of the organization’s information and that of the customers with whom it does business. This is why many decide to provide secure computer equipment to their employees, reminding them from time to time of the security rules to follow to avoid any malicious intrusion.
The employer also retains his obligation to prevent harassment, both psychological and sexual, in the workplace. This is not limited to corporate offices. For employees working from home, home is considered the place of work.
“You have to remember that harassment can also happen online,” says Marie-Hélène Jolicoeur.
Since the start of the pandemic, there has also been an upsurge in harassment complaints due to a more difficult work environment. Online communications between employees should be courteous. Avoid: sending emails in the evening or during the weekend, writing an email in capital letters – which is equivalent to shouting –, making excessive use of punctuation marks (which could be perceived as a sign of aggression) and issue criticisms by copying several people.
Moreover, since 1er January 2021, employers must comply with a new requirement, namely the prevention of spousal and family violence continuing at work under the new Workplace Harassment and Violence Prevention Regulation. In a teleworking context, this obligation can weigh heavily. It is therefore advisable to include these risks in programs for preventing and dealing with incidents of harassment and violence in the workplace. Prevention is always key.
WORK FROM ABROAD
With winter coming (yes, yes!), employees will be tempted to work abroad, preferably to have their feet in the warm sand. A practice facilitated by today’s technological tools, but which poses management challenges.
First of all, the employee must inform his employer and have his agreement before leaving, in particular concerning the duration of the stay. Teleworking from abroad will have several impacts which the latter will have to take into account. For example, when it comes to work organization, it’s not always easy to hold meetings when all team members are not in the same time zone.
“The employer must also ensure that the workstation remains secure so that the information is always protected,” recalls Marie-Hélène Jolicœur.
Again, labor laws apply even if the employee performs his duties outside the country. “However, the employee must be domiciled in Quebec and the company must have its place of business there,” explains Marie-Hélène Jolicœur. In the event of an accident at work, he will therefore be protected under certain conditions. It is therefore better to inquire before departure.
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Telecommuting and employers’ obligations: what you need to know | Advise
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