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“Essential Workplace” – WFH Clarification

by | Apr 22, 2021 | Blog, HRLive, Ontario | 0 comments

Brought to you by our partner HRLive

I’ve received several questions regarding the impact of the stay-at-home order as it respects “essential workplaces” and for this reason we are providing the following important clarification to our HRLive

Client group:

Previously workplaces places that were deemed ‘essential’ could require their employees to attend work, even if the work the employee was performing wasn’t strictly “essential“ but otherwise supported the
essential work of the organization.

With yesterday‘s announcement, we believe the situation has changed as it respects working from home.

It appears that even if your workplace is deemed an essential service, an employee who can work from home must do so.  Put another way, employees who can do their job remotely have to be allowed to work from
home by their employers, regardless of your status as an essential workplace.

Until recently, employees did not have a right to work from home if their employer requested them to attend work. That has changed. It appears that employees can now potentially file a Ministry of Labour complaint if they are forced to attend work when their duties can be done remotely.  It appears that these public health regulations will now be enforced

We have been informed that the Ministry of Labour will be conducting a so-called “blitz“ of office workplaces next week to ensure compliance [accounting firms and law firms were mentioned in particular as offices where the Ministry believes many people are performing work on-site that could be done remotely].  If you have an office environment similar to those operations, we recommend that you review your operating protocols.

employees must attend the office in order to perform their work [for example, there are network or systems that can only be accessed from inside the office] then you may continue to have employees attend your offices, or attend for periods of time to access those resources.

However, if the work can be accommodated and performed remotely at home, it’s becoming clear that this is required and will be more strictly enforced in the weeks ahead.

Logging off for the weekend to enjoy this last day of (relative) freedom and sunshine.  Please do the same, and feel free to contact us if you require any additional assistance or clarification in applying these requirements in your workplace.