When COVID-19 hit in early 2020, many people were given the opportunity to transition their work online. Since many people no longer needed to report to an office. But the option to work remotely in different locations began to arise. Some people choose to relocate to their cottages or outside of the cities that they had needed to be close to before the pandemic or some were leaving their current jobs.
As pandemic restrictions have begun to be lifted. Therefore many companies are moving back toward in-person work models and requesting that employees return to the office. However, since many employees have already learned that remote work is possible, the draw to live where they choose is still strong.
So, if an employee were to request that they be able to continue to work remotely, even after pandemic restrictions are lifted, what would be their options? This article will outline important considerations that employees should make when considering proposing a move.
What Rights do Employees Have?
Determining whether an employee has a right to choose where they work will largely depend on the original employment agreement and whether work can continue to be performed remotely. Some employment agreements, especially ones written after the pandemic began, will have a clause determining where employees are meant to work. Others will have a clause about working online for a certain period of time.
Employees should consult their employment agreement before committing to leaving their current jobs. If there is nothing in the employment agreement. It might be a good time to have a conversation with your employer. Many employment contracts have implied terms that can be enforced. With implied terms, it needs to have been assumed at the time of signing the contract. If work needs to be done at a specific location, then it is likely implied in the original agreement. If not, it may depend on what the employer and the employee expected at the time of the agreement.
Find out what your employer expects from employees when it comes to working arrangements and explains your plans to move locations. It might be better to work with your employer than against them and prevent either party from taking legal action.
If your employer agrees to a move, then start packing! If not, it may be time to reconsider whether the move is more important than the job.
What Can Employers Do?
Employers should also take the time to review the employment agreement with the employee in question and determine whether there was an expectation on the employee to stay in a particular location. If there is nothing in the agreement. Then you may be able to argue that it was an implied term at the time of the agreement. Certainly, you have questions about implied terms, speak with a qualified employment lawyer who may be able to help you determine whether any are involved in the agreement before leaving your current job.
If an employee does speak to you about the possibility of moving away, consider whether it is more important to keep the employee and find a solution or to try to enforce the agreement and potentially let them go.
If the employee does choose to move away and their move affects their ability to perform their duties. Therefore employers may be able to argue that the employee leaving their current job. Which is a form of constructive dismissal.
What Steps Should You Take?
As an employee. It is important to make sure you know what your employer expects of you before making any decisions. Moving without speaking to your employer could result in them arguing that you abandoned your position if you did not have an agreement about the changes. To begin, speak to your employer about what options you have.
If a move is necessary, you would like to keep your job, and you’re not sure what options you have. Consequently speak to an employment lawyer about what can be done, before leaving your current job.
Employers should ensure that any future employment agreements include clauses about work locations in a post-pandemic world. If you are an employer who is unsure about what to do in a situation involving an employee who wants to move, be sure to read up on whether employees can be forced back into the office, and consider reaching out to a qualified employment lawyer who may be able to help.
The world after COVID-19 looks different from how it did before the pandemic hit. Employees are used to working remotely. But many people are seeking working situations that will allow them to live anywhere in the world.
Employers should be prepared to work with their employees to find a solution that works for everyone involved. As the world changes, so does the workplace.
If you are an employee or an employer wondering about what a move to a different location might look like. While if you need help facilitating it, speak to a qualified employment lawyer about what options you have. As remote work becomes more accessible. So does the possibility of traveling, so long as you know your obligations to your workplace.
If you are an employee considering moving away from your job or an employer faced with an employee who wants to move, the team at Achkar Law can help. Contact us by phone toll-free at +1 (800) 771-7882 or email us at email@example.com and we will be happy to assist.
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