Flexible Work Arrangements and Employee Rights
Organizations and companies across Canada have responded to the COVID-19 pandemic by allowing flexible work arrangements to protect both customer and employee rights, health and safety.
Employment law should be considered when introducing or changing any flexible work arrangements. Serious and reasonable consideration about workplace requirements, employee contracts, and clear policies around work requirements are necessary when creating flexible work arrangements.
Though many businesses have continued to operate at the fullest degree possible under flexible work arrangements, some employers are concerned about the impact flexible work has on productivity, vacation time, and what a safe return-to-office policy looks like. However, many businesses are learning that employee productivity excels with flexible work and are implementing long-term arrangements.
Let’s look at some of the many forms and benefits flexible work arrangements have for an organization and its employees.
Examples of flexible work arrangements
Flexible work arrangements can take many forms but ultimately entails relaxing or modifying standard work hours or the physical location of work. For example:
- Flex time means employees have variable start and end times.
- A compressed workweek allows employees to work longer hours but fewer days of the week.
- Flexplace lets employees work remotely instead of in the office.
- Reduced hours let employees work fewer hours than what is considered full time when demand allows.
- Annualized hours formalize the number of hours an employee should work a year but provide them with the flexibility to work depending on demand.
Benefits of flexible work arrangements
There are many benefits of flexible work arrangements for both employers and employees.
- Addressing health concerns: The COVID-19 pandemic highlighted flexible work as critical to the health and safety of everyone. Flexible work arrangements decrease the risk of spreading COVID-19 and other illnesses between employees and customers since fewer people are in physical contact with each other.
- Improving employee morale: Flexible work lets employees have more control over their schedule and allows them to attend unavoidable or important events (for example, children’s events or caring for family members). This flexibility encourages loyalty among employees to their workplace.
- Increasing productivity: Allowing employees to work from home on flexible hours lets them work at the times they are most productive. It also allows employees to change their work hours to accommodate their schedule rather than requesting time off.
You should contact an employment lawyer to implement a flexible work arrangement that allows your organization and its employees to benefit.
Employee rights under flexible work arrangements
Employees have several rights when it comes to flexible work arrangements. First is the right to request flexible work. Federally regulated employees with at least six months of service have the right to request flexible work hours, schedules, or locations. An employer must seriously consider such a request and can only deny it based on a narrow list of reasons like additional costs and negative impact on work.
In addition, there may be concerns from employees and employers about scheduling vacation time under flexible work arrangements. Generally, employers can schedule specific vacation time for employees or adjust it if the business abides by employment law. However, it is important to consult with an employment lawyer and consider how altering vacation time could impact company morale before acting.
At Rogers & Company Professional Corporation, we have a great team of employment lawyers in Oakville who can help you determine the best flexible work arrangement for your company and its employees. Call us today at 905-901-3685 or send us a message via our contact form to connect with a lawyer and find out more about our services.
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