There has been lots of buzz in the news about employees deciding that since they are working from home anyway, they may as well skip winter and do so from Mexico! Employers asked to authorize working by the beach wonder, is this cause for concern? Maybe and maybe not. There’s lots to consider.
Local laws and legal jurisdiction
While it will depend on where an employee is working and for how long, they could become subject to local employment standards laws and possibly local taxation. This will be tricky for employers who likely won’t know anything about these laws. The best way to head off this type of problem is to keep your employee’s relocation short-term and temporary and have your accountant look into any applicable timelines for tax purposes. In order to maintain Ontario jurisdiction from an employment standards perspective, employers will need to make it clear that the employee’s work remains connected to a head office in Canada and that they will be required back in Canada within a certain time frame.
Employers will also want to get verification from their employee that the employee is legally allowed to live in their country of choice without running afoul of any immigration law.
Privacy and data security
Just like when an employee is working from home, the employer will want to ensure that there are clear policies and good protections in place with respect to the protection of their business information. The employee should be required to have secure, reliable internet. They should also be required to take extra precautions with respect to their work equipment. For example, locking it in a safe when not in use or bringing it on any flights as a carry-on.
Employer benefits may not translate to other jurisdictions. Even if the employee is covered by travel insurance, this may not apply if they are staying abroad for an extended period and not exactly “travelling.” Employees should be encouraged to look into their coverage and should understand the limits of their existing coverage in the new situation.
Can an employer just say NO?
In most situations, yes! An employer does not have to allow the employee to work in another jurisdiction. It may be a reasonable accommodation if there are human rights issues at play, for example, if the employee is needed to provide care to a family member abroad. However, these situations will likely be rare and, depending on the level of care needed, a leave of absence from work may be more appropriate.