Returning to the Office After Covid

Many offices are still transitioning employees back to the workplace while others are entertaining so-called ‘hybrid’ approaches or electing to make work-from-home a more permanent arrangement.

If you still have employees working remotely, we are not advocating that you mandate them to return to the office immediately.  However, you may want to consider this approach.  Why?  Prior to COVID, employees who were permitted to work from home for extended periods of time had cases for constructive dismissal when employers requested their return to the office (without providing months of advance notice).  Clearly, if you recall those working from home back to work in August or shortly thereafter there will be no issues (they were only at home due to forced closures and stay-at-home orders).

However, if you continue to authorize staff to work from home for a significant period of time when it is no longer required (after they have been working at home for months already) there could be risks. At some point, employees working remotely will be able to take the position that remote work has become a term of their employment and that their employer can no longer order them back to work.  If you decide to permit your staff to continue remote work, we recommend having them sign an agreement acknowledging that this remains a temporary accommodation and that you may require them to return to the workplace on request within a reasonable timeframe.

Workplace safety considerations, your culture and the type of work your staff are doing will all be among the factors that determine what is the right approach for your workplace.  In the meantime, we can assist you with policies and documentation for any staff you have continuing remote work.

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