Remote Work

Man working remote

At the height of the pandemic, many employers switched to remote work to comply with public health guidelines. As the world restructures to a new normal, the workforce is continuously contemplating whether to bring employees back into the office. Consequently, employees are left with the question of whether they have a right to continue to work remotely. 

In Ontario, employment relationships are generally governed by the Employment Standards Act, 2000 (ESA), and Ontario Human Rights Code (OHRC). 

The ESA does not specifically grant employees the right to work remotely. Instead, it sets out certain minimum standards for employees in Ontario, such as hours of work, vacation pay, and leaves of absence. Alternatively, the OHRC governs employees’ rights against discrimination based on protected grounds. For example, if an employee has a disability that requires accommodation, the OHRC outlines the employer’s duty to accommodate. 

In contrast, employees that were temporarily accommodated to work remotely to comply with COVID-19 regulations, are not protected by the same duty. Employees do not automatically have a permanent right to work remotely simply because they were granted that right previously. This right is not absolute.

Determining your right to work remotely:


  • Employment Contracts or Employer Policies

In some instances, your employment contract or company policy will address the option of remote work arrangements. The first step is checking whether your company’s policy or employment contract allows remote work. Additionally, it is necessary to confirm whether either document specifically outlines the terms and conditions related to remote work. If so, you may have a stronger argument to work remotely. 

  • Individual Circumstances

Oftentimes, the right to work remotely will commonly depend on individual circumstances. If an employee has a disability that requires remote work as an accommodation, under the OHRC, employers have a duty to accommodate. Furthermore, if an employee can demonstrate that remote work does not cause undue hardship to the employer, the argument for remote work is stronger. 

Similar to employers, insurance companies also have a duty to employees. Under the OHRC, insurance companies have a duty to accommodate employees up to the point of undue hardship. This means that they may be required to engage in an interactive process to explore reasonable accommodations such as tailored return-to-work programs. 

In essence, in addition to the OHRC, the specific terms and conditions of the insurance company’s policies would govern their obligation regarding return to work.  

Ultimately, while employees have been granted temporary rights to work remotely, in Ontario, this is not inherent. However, the OHRC may require employers to accommodate employees with disabilities, which could include remote work as an accommodation. 


Get Help with Your right to work remotely

If you are an employee battling with your right to remote work, contact Lecker & Associates. We have over 35 years of experience protecting employee rights and representing our clients successfully.


Call us at 416.223.5391 or complete our contact form to book a consultation.