return-to-work

Return To Work Plan: What To Keep In Mind

Various industries have begun their “return to work” rollout. After two years of working remotely through the Pandemic, many employees have mixed feelings regarding returning to work.

Unsurprisingly, some employees are more than happy to return to the workplace. On the other hand, some employees are anxious about the spread of COVID-19 and would prefer remote work.

Some employees may have taken advantage of remote work and moved far away from their workplace. Conversely, some employees have certain obligations or circumstances that could prevent them from returning to work.

This article aims to generally address return to work issues and what to keep in mind when returning to work for both employers and employees.

Employers: Return To Work Rollout

As an employer, the following may be at the forefront of the most return to work plans:

  • Creating a health and safety plan that aims to limit the spread of COVID-19 in the workplace (screening questions, vaccination declaration, masks, physical distancing, testing etc.)
  • Maintaining employee confidence
  • Easing return to work anxiety
  • Ensuring flexibility in terms of workplace practices will be at the forefront.

It is important to keep in mind that there could be an argument for continuing remote work plans. For example, if the Company has found that their business or productivity did not suffer during the 2-year remote period, they should keep an open mind to flexible, remote work.

Additionally, employers should continuously reassess their policies and practices as restrictions ease up. This includes periodically reviewing their health and safety, human rights and employment obligations.

What Employees Should Keep In Mind When Returning To Work

It is important to note that, generally, employees do not have a right to work from home. If you believe you have a valid human rights or safety concern, it may be beneficial to ask your employer for accommodation.

Accommodations relating to working from home will likely be evaluated on a case-by-case basis by a team put together by your employer. It could take some time to review and receive accommodation.

As soon as you receive your return to work policy, it may be beneficial to reach out regarding any accommodation concerns. If your accommodation is denied and you do not return to work, you may be subject to discipline.

If you refuse to return to work due to personal preference, you could be subject to discipline or even termination. For example, if your employer has put appropriate safeguards to ensure a safe workplace, and you refuse to return, you may be considered abandoning your job. Abandoning your job means risking your EI entitlement.

For the above reasons, you should reach out to your employer to see what their return-to-work plan is; and also how they are treating accommodation or hybrid work models.

Conclusion

The lingering effects COVID has on businesses is bringing uncertainty around return to work measures. Some employers will need to make important decisions regarding their employees and staffing needs. This includes ensuring employees feel confident and safe when they come back to work.

Contact Us

Whether you are an employer or an employee needing assistance with reviewing or drafting an employment agreement, our team of experienced employment and human rights lawyers at Achkar Law can help. Contact us toll-free at +1 (800) 771-7882 or email us at [email protected] We will be happy to assist.

If you are a small or medium-sized company looking for full-service support with a same-day response, visit our CLO Program page for our strategic solutions.

Disclaimer: The goal of this blog is only educational. It is intended to help you understand some of the common and general inquiries we receive. Please do not rely on this as legal advice because legal advice is tricky and dependent on specific situations. Make sure you consult with a lawyer before using this information. Should you require legal advice for your particular situation, fill out the contact form, call (800) 771-7882 or email [email protected]