Can The Return To Office Be Constructive Dismissal?Ian
As the dust settles on the COVID-19 pandemic, many businesses are reimagining the way they operate. Instead of solely working from home, they’re now exploring a mix of in-office and remote work – a real balancing act. Some are even mandating the bold move of returning to the office full-time. Some employees who have been working from home may be feeling some uncertainty about returning to the workplace after a prolonged remote working environment.
Generally speaking, employers have the ability to manage company affairs, which involves determining where its employees work. In some cases, unless there is sufficient evidence to support employee accommodation, employers can instruct their workers to return to work in the office. However, this broad authority that employers have to manage their staff can still have limitations and, if not implemented correctly, could result in employees claiming constructive dismissal.
In this article, we will explore what a constructive dismissal claim is and what employees and employers need to know about returning to the office after working from home.
What is Constructive Dismissal?
If an employer makes a significant and unilateral change to the terms of an employee’s employment contract, it may result in a claim for constructive dismissal. Changes to pay, position, job responsibilities, and work location can all qualify as substantial changes to the employment agreement.
If the employee has not given explicit or implicit consent to the change, the employer’s unilateral decision can amount to a breach of the employment contract.
Constructive dismissal may also occur when the employer provides a work environment so toxic that the employee cannot reasonably be expected to stay there. A constructively dismissed employee is entitled to notice period pay.
An employment lawyer can review the specific facts of your situation to advise if a constructive dismissal has taken place, advise you of your options and the best way to proceed.
What Employees Should Know
If you are an employee who is notified by their employer that a change in work location will occur, or is returning to the office after working from home, it is important to understand your rights and responsibilities.
Your employer cannot unilaterally change the terms of your employment agreement without your consent. If they do, it could be considered a constructive dismissal. The first step is to review your employment contract to see if there is a job location specified.
If you are asked to return to the office and this constitutes a significant change to your job, you may be able to refuse and negotiate with your employer to find a mutually agreeable solution.
If you experience changes to your job or work environment that you feel are significant, it is important to document them. This includes any communications with your employer, such as emails or letters. Keep a record of any conversations or negotiations that have taken place, and be sure to communicate your concerns clearly to your employer.
If you are an employee and are unsure about the changes that will occur in your workplace, it is important to seek legal advice. An employment lawyer can help employees determine whether their rights have been violated, and if so, what compensation or remedies they may be entitled to.
What Employers Should Know
If you are an employer who is planning to bring employees back to the office after working from home, it is important to understand your obligations and responsibilities.
Before making any significant changes to an employee’s job or work environment, it is essential to review his or her employment contract. This will help you understand what changes you can make and what changes require the employee’s consent.
Communicate clearly with your employees about any changes that are going to be made and allow opportunities for discussion where required. This includes changes to work location, hours, job duties, or pay.
Be sure to provide as much notice as possible and to listen to your employees’ concerns. If possible, work with them to find a mutually agreeable solution.
Returning to the office after working from home can be a significant adjustment for employees. It is a good idea to consider the mental health impact of this transition and to provide support and resources as needed. This can include flexible work arrangements, employee assistance programs, and mental health days.
An experienced workplace lawyer can help you navigate the complex legal issues surrounding returning employees to the workplace and can help you make sure you are complying with the employment contract in place, and relevant laws.
The return to the office after working from home can be a significant change for employees and employers alike. Therefore, it is crucial for both employees and employers to understand their rights and responsibilities.
While employers have the right to manage their business and determine where their employees work, this right is not unlimited. Significant changes to an employee’s job or work environment without their consent can lead to a claim of constructive dismissal.
Employees should be aware of their rights and obligations and document any changes or concerns they have, while employers should communicate clearly with their employees. Employers should provide resources as needed to ensure a successful return to in-person work.
It is crucial for employers and employees to seek legal advice if they are unsure about any changes in the workplace.
If you are an employee who believes they qualify for constructive dismissal, or an employer who is facing a constructive dismissal claim, our team of experienced employment lawyers at Achkar Law can help. Contact us by phone toll-free at 1 (800) 771-7882 or email us at [email protected] and we would be happy to assist.