#WFH: Considerations from an employment lawyer.

AuthorMerritt, Victoria

Remote work or hybrid work arrangements have become the norm for many office workers due to COVID-19, but what are the legal considerations?

I started this article perched on a kitchen chair watching snow fall outside of my in-laws' house in Calgary. And I am finishing it relaxing on a couch in Sherwood Park. Usually, I work from my home office in Squamish, B.C., which I can do because the employment law firm I work at is fully remote.

Remote work, or hybrid work arrangements (a combination of office and remote work), have become the norm for many office workers because of the COVID-19 pandemic. While there are pros and cons to remote work from personal and business perspectives, this article will focus on several key legal considerations for remote workers.

  1. Is there a Remote Work Policy or Agreement in place? What does it say?

    Many employers have policies or individual agreements in place that apply to remote work arrangements. It is important to review any written confirmation of the remote work arrangement carefully to make sure you understand your rights and obligations (just like with the original employment contract).

    Having clarity on what is expected is key. For example, does your employer care when you work or just how much you get done? How will your employer track your productivity? Do you need to be available at certain times for meetings? If a hybrid arrangement, how often do you have to come into the office? If you want to travel and work, is that allowed?

    Remote work policies and agreements will also often speak to the other items mentioned in this article, such as who pays for and owns your home office equipment, and the health and safety expectations for a home office.

  2. Who owns and pays for home office equipment?

    At the beginning of the pandemic, many employees worked perched on kitchen chairs or hunched over their laptop in a kid's playroom. As the pandemic dragged on, many employees needed to upgrade their remote workspace to ensure their health, safety, and effectiveness at work.

    Just like in the office, your employer should make sure you have the tools needed to complete your work, including an ergonomic office set up. However, employees should remember that any equipment provided by the employer, or at the employer's cost, belongs to the employer, not the employee. This may mean not being able to use a computer or phone for personal use, or that the employer is able to monitor those devices.

    There are also...

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