Updated: Dec 8, 2020
For years, we have touted the use of remote employment agreements to successfully implement distributed teams. Since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, that requirement has become quintessential.
The benefits of a distributed team are plentiful - enormous costs savings on overhead and real estate fees, work-life balance and employee autonomy, and access to wider and more diverse talent pools.
When implementing a remote workforce, it is critical that Employment Agreements are amended or drafted to reflect the arrangement. The Agreement should contain all of the details of the setup, and ask that the employee acknowledge and agree to all requirements, and advise you, the employer, of how they will make the arrangement work.
The reason that employee input is to critical is to ultimately protect the employer and the employee against pitfalls in the arrangement in the future, such as non-compliance with project deadlines (where an employee previously indicated how they will comply); failure to work during specified work hours (where the employee previously said they will be available); and, most importantly – workplace injuries, where the employee previously signed off on the health and safety of the workspace.
A comprehensive Employment Agreement is also necessary to outline how the arrangement can come to an end, be amended, or revisited. The document should be executed and returned to the employer, prior to the employee’s start date.
A successful Employment Agreement should include details about the duties and responsibilities of the employee – which plays a critical role in constructive dismissal or overtime claims – performance review methods, any required head office attendances, remote communication procedures, on-boarding and induction training, workspace and equipment details, accountability, variations to the agreement, regulatory leaves, and employee declarations.
Employers are duly advised to outline the scope of the Agreement to the employee, and provide them with at least ten (10) days to fill it out, and seek answers to any questions they may have. It is best to meet with employees in-person to develop the remote relationship, and discuss all of your requirements.
Some of the common pitfalls to avoid to ensure that the arrangement is successful, include: having the employee fill in as much information as possible to prevent human rights claims; ensuring that the hours of work are set, specifically for workplace injury reports; drafting a new employment agreement and setting out new consideration if the employee is moving into a remote work arrangement; allowing the employee to seek legal advice prior to executing the agreement; ensuring that the agreement can be varied by you, at any time; and ensuring you can re-visit the arrangement once per year.
Remote Employment Agreements are a necessity when operating a remote workforce. The liabilities and obligations of employers and employees change drastically when an organization shifts from in-office to in-home. How can you ensure your legal documents are accurately drafted? Contact us at Remote Law Canada, any time.