Date Published: 28 December 2022
Written by: Howard Levitt & Stephen Gillman
Employers are increasingly finding themselves facing a legal minefield as employees return to the workplace and the hype surrounding remote work continues to die down and. As predicted by Howard in a column earlier this year, this has sparked a litany of wrongful dismissal lawsuits as many employees have simply refused to return to the workplace. Although an employer is entitled to recall its remote staff to the in-person workplace, how it is done will undoubtedly impact how it is received. The key is to act early and consult with an employment lawyer to strategically plan for returns to the office. Here are a few tips that employers will want to remain mindful of when implementing a recall to in-person work:
1) Provide sufficient notice – A failure to do so can result in a legal claim for constructive dismissal.
2) Accommodate, if required – Employers are obligated to consider each request for accommodation on its merits and how that accommodation may be provided without undue hardship to the employer. A failure to do so can result in punitive damages being awarded against an employer in the event of a legal claim.
3) Communicate – Listen to and discuss the underlying reasons for the requested accommodation. Oftentimes there may be other ways to address an employee’s concerns other than allowing them to work remotely.