29 April 2020

Five Considerations For Effective Remote Working Policies

MLT Aikins LLP


MLT Aikins LLP is a full-service law firm of more than 300 lawyers with a deep commitment to Western Canada and an understanding of this market’s unique legal and business landscapes.
Given recent COVID-19 restrictions and self-isolation measures, many employers have requested that employees work from home.
Canada Coronavirus (COVID-19)
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Given recent COVID-19 restrictions and self-isolation measures, many employers have requested that employees work from home.

Under the recently proclaimed Public Health Emergency Leave provisions of The Saskatchewan Employment Act, employees who are on this leave and are authorized to work at home during the leave are entitled to be paid their regular wages and benefits provided they comply with the measures set out in the order of the Chief Medical Officer and comply with any additional requirements set out by the Lieutenant Governor in Council. Many Saskatchewan employees not on this leave, or employees in other provinces, may also be working remotely.

It is important that employers have policies in place governing remote working arrangements to limit the uncertainty around the arrangements and provide clarity on expectations and objectives.

Effective remote work policies should include the following:

  1. Definition of Eligibility – Provisions should be included in remote work policies which provide discretion to employers in allowing them to decide which employees can work from home. Employees working from home need to have suitable work locations which allow them to have access to appropriate space, technology and resources to remain organized and responsive, and maintain confidentiality in their work environments.
  2. Definition of Expectations – Policies should clearly define expectations of remote workers, including the number of hours to be worked, schedules and the necessary communications required. Expectations concerning quality of work, professionalism, compliance with other employer policies while remote working and output of work are also important. Policies musts allow employers to set reasonable timelines for the completion of work projects and the setting of long-term and short-term work objectives.
  3. Communication Requirements – Policies should set out multiple means of required communication channels, such as cell phone, email and scanning and printing requirements, and necessary service connections.
  4. Cost Considerations – Policies should include provisions on what costs will be covered by the employer and which will not. Examples of costs include high-speed internet, phone, office supplies, hardware, and software, including updates, replacements, or processes for additional funds.
  5. Duration of Remote Arrangement – Policies should provide employer discretion regarding periodic review and limitations on duration of remote work arrangements to ensure goals and objectives continue to be met on a regular basis.

The success of any remote work arrangement under a policy will depend on the ability of the parties to effectively monitor objectives and review arrangements on a regular basis to ensure goals and objectives are met within the organization. Our labour and employment team will be happy to assist in the drafting of a remote work policy that meets your organization's needs.

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.

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