Teleworking Policy: What You Need to Know
This article was translated from our original article in French for the quarterly Canadian news overview, a newsletter published by Moore North America’s Canadian member firms.
What was uncommon before the pandemic, teleworking, is finally being integrated into the reality of many employees and employers. In recent years, several companies have resorted to teleworking when health restrictions made it necessary. In contrast, others have fully adopted it and could no longer do without this method of organizing work. While hybrid working is prevalent, some companies still need to adopt a clear policy regarding teleworking.
At a time when there is a labor shortage, teleworking is an advantage that allows you to attract and retain staff by giving, among other things, the opportunity to recruit employees at a greater distance from the usual workplace, offering a more flexible work schedule.
However, teleworking is not all positive. In particular, work accidents occurring at home have been recognized as work accidents (reference: Air Canada and Gentile-Patti, 2021 QCTAT 5829). In addition, the compulsory use of information technology has raised issues concerning the security and protection of personal and confidential data. Employees have also abused the situation at the company’s expense by not providing the expected work performance.
What is the law, and what are the rules on teleworking?
There is no law specifically for teleworking in Quebec, but in 2021, a provision on teleworking was added to the Occupational Health and Safety Act:
“Subject to any irreconcilable provision, in particular about the place of work, the provisions of this law apply to the worker who carries out teleworking and to his employer.”
Please consider regulating teleworking within the law’s guidelines.
Why do you need a teleworking policy?
Having a policy in place will help avoid the potential abuses of teleworking. It will enable you to oversee activities for teleworkers and remind remote or hybrid employees of the company policies and procedures that apply to people working from locations other than the company office. Details about the purpose of the teleworking policy can be listed under objectives. The policy will also be a tool to ensure you comply with the labor standards, pay equity, and
occupational health and safety guidelines per CNESST.
Sometimes, teleworking may only affect a few employees in your organization. Still, regardless of the number of people, it’s essential to provide some guidelines about remote working, which can be added to your teleworking policy.
Examples of topics to cover in the teleworking policy are:
- Policy objectives
- Scope of the policy
- Employees covered
- Policy framework and authorizations
- Teleworking code of conduct/ethics
- Communication and supervision
- Reminder of the rules, policies, and procedures that remain applicable (including those relating to OHS)
- Work schedule and overtime
- Workspace and ergonomics
- Privacy and data protection
- Use of computer equipment
- Costs related to the purchase of equipment
- Consumption of drugs, alcohol and medication
What are the types of teleworking?
As an employer, you can use teleworking differently and include guidelines based on what’s relevant to how your company structures it. The hybrid working model is quite common, consisting of an employee working approximately 50% remotely and 50% in-person at the workplace. Teleworking can, therefore, be full or part-time.
Some companies establish a quantity of remote hours for their employees, like a bank of hours they can choose when to use. In this setup, the employer ensures that their employees are on-site a certain percentage of the time. Other companies set specific days that employees must be in the office to bring employees together and foster collaboration.
The location where teleworking takes place can also vary. For example, employees can work from home, from another public place, or from another country. In this context, the form(s) selected by an employer will depend on the reality of a company by considering, among other things, the nature of the work, opening hours, confidentiality, and data protection. No
policy is better than another; you’ll need to find what works best for your company, set a clear policy framework, and specify the objectives.
What are the arguments in favor of teleworking?
- Greater flexibility in working hours
- A demonstration of trust in your employees
- Increased productivity
- Better work-family balance
- Avoid delays or absences
- Reduction of expenses
We want to remind you that we offer services to help you revise or write your employee handbooks for your internal HR and OHS procedures or policies! You can also use our services as a bank of hours.