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Canada

4. Teleworking

Teleworking – Policies and procedures for telework once business reopens

In order to prepare for telework once business reopens, employers should draft telecommuting policies. The policy should address clear expectations for employee conduct and should set out steps to ensure the protection of company property and confidential information. Where telework is optional, the policy should address eligibility for telework and the procedure for requesting approval to work from home. The policy should also address telework as an accommodation for employees who request work from home arrangements due to a protected characteristic, such as a disability or family care obligations. In addition, employers should remind employees that they are expected to comply with all workplace policies, including health and safety policies and security policies.

In order to facilitate a clear understanding for all employees, employers must:

  • Define the scope of employee duties and set out expected performance goals.
  • Mandate a timeframe where all employees are expected to be working and available.
  • Agree on the employee’s expected or permitted work location(s). This will also allow the employer to ensure the workspace is in compliance with Occupational Health and Safety legislation.

Comply with Minimum Standards Rules

  • Employers should keep track of the hours the employees are working in order to comply with minimum standards and rules with respect to overtime work.
  • Employers must respect vacation and statutory holidays and allow employees to exercise their rights with respect to same.

Comply with Human Rights Obligations

  • If remote work is optional or a privilege granted to employees, employers must ensure their decisions are fair and based on objective and non-discriminatory criteria.
  • Work from home arrangements can also be implemented as a form of accommodation, where necessary or appropriate.

Occupational Health and Safety Measures

  • Remote working environments are an extension of the workplace and employers should consider reasonable measures to promote workplace health and safety.
  • Employers must conduct hazard checks to ensure the employee’s workspace is free from hazards.
  • For privacy reasons, conventional inspections by the Joint Health and Safety Committee will likely be inappropriate. Employers must consider alternative means to conduct inspections which may include providing an employee with a health and safety checklist or guidelines. The employee would then submit an inspection report and the parties could work together to resolve identified hazards.

Technology and Information Handling Practices

  • Employers must review their technology policies and ensure they provide appropriate measures to protect business and confidential information. Employees should receive training to ensure the protection of confidential information.

Employee Privacy Protections

  • Employers must adopt procedures that allow for adequate employee monitoring of productivity and hours while respecting employee privacy. Privacy laws place restrictions on the collection, use, and disclosure of personal information, and employers must be mindful of these boundaries. Employees should be informed of the monitoring and the purpose of the supervision.

Managing Employee Conduct and Performance

  • Employee monitoring will allow employers to manage work performance and engagement. Supervisors should consider tracking employee hours and providing instruction on productivity goals.
  • In order to facilitate productivity, employers should consider:
    • providing training on remote work habits;
    • conducting meetings to update employees on productivity; and
    • offering assistance to ensure employees are supported to effectively conduct remote work.
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