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Overcoming remote work conflicts and confusion

On Behalf of | Apr 12, 2024 | Employment Law |

With the rise of remote work (or telework), our definition of “office” has expanded to coffee shops, living rooms and even across time zones. As we adapt to these changes, the core principles and laws that govern the workplace remain firmly in place.

For remote workers and their employers, understanding how these rules apply in a new setting is vital to a successful and lawful work environment.

Preserving core work principles remotely

At its heart, remote work is still work, and the fundamental protections and expectations that apply to a physical office also extend to the digital one. This includes:

  • Protection against discrimination and harassment: Workers have the right to a workplace free from discrimination based on factors including race, colour, religion, sex, place of origin, age and disability.
  • Compliance with wage and hours of work laws: Employers must pay for all hours worked, which may include overtime pay for eligible employees.
  • Respecting labour rights: Employees have a right to organize, and employers have certain corresponding obligations regarding union drives and collective bargaining.

New challenges to navigate

While much remains the same, remote work does introduce new variables that require careful consideration:

  • Worker privacy concerns: Employers must balance the need to monitor productivity with an employee’s right to privacy.
  • Employer privacy concerns: Working away from an office could increase the potential risk of mishandling proprietary information. Employees should understand their duties regarding matters like sending information over unsecured networks or safeguarding paperwork in their homes.
  • Ensuring remote workplace safety: Employers are responsible for providing a safe work environment, even if that environment is in an employee’s home.

The laws and guidance available in these areas can vary depending on the jurisdiction of employment and existing policies.

Preparation is key to success

Employers and employees in a telework relationship should understand what the arrangement entails and prepare accordingly. This may require parties to:

  • Review and update remote work policies regularly.
  • Ensure clear communication of expectations and legal obligations.
  • Provide training and resources for remote work best practices.
  • Establish protocols for reporting and addressing workplace issues remotely.

By being proactive, employers and workers can avoid legal challenges while maintaining a lawful and positive work environment for everyone.



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