Are there any employment law issues that should be kept in mind while implementing work from home models?

Key employment law considerations that employers should keep in mind when implementing work from home are:

Hours of Work

The concept of work from home is not specifically regulated or governed by statute. Therefore, in the absence of a specific statute, the employment laws that would otherwise be applicable to employee when they are working from the employer’s establishment would continue to apply. In this regard, work hour and overtime laws would continue to apply to employees. Hence, an employer would have to be mindful that employees do not work beyond their regular working hours and adhere to relevant overtime requirements.

Confidentiality and Data Security

One of the primary considerations when it comes to allowing employees to work from home is confidentiality and data security. Therefore, it is recommended that employers take additional data security measures to ensure that their IT infrastructure and resources are protected. Certain employers have resorted to geo-tagging of their devices to ensure that their data security and confidentiality is not breached.

Productivity and Performance Tracking

Given that in most instances the standard processes for productivity and performance tracking have been developed for employees working out of the employer’s establishment, employers would have to now adapt these methods to employees working from home. In this regard, there are a number of applications that are available for employers to monitor their employees work remotely. In certain circumstances, employers also require their employees to periodically provide summaries to their managers of the work that they are doing.

OSP Licences

To facilitate employers to allow employees to work from home, the Department of Telecommunications has through circular dated March 13, 2020, issued certain relaxations in the terms and conditions prescribed for Other Service Providers (OSPs), with respect to the ability of their employees to work from home. The exemptions/relaxations are available till April 30, 2020. This circular inter alia exempts OSPs from the requirement to pay a security deposit and have an agreement to enable work-from-home options or seek prior permission to allow work from home. Further, OSPs have been exempted from the requirement of having a secured VPN from an authorized service provider. OSPs may now use secured VPNs configured using ‘static IP’ addresses by themselves to enable interconnection between the home agent position and the OSP center with pre-defined locations.

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