As the COVID-19 pandemic rages on, businesses continue to change the way they operate across the board.
Thrust into a state of mass isolation, many people have embarked on remote working journies. Since this is a significant rise in telecommuting, there have been droves of success stories.
Studies suggest that post-pandemic, more than two-fifths of employees will continue to work remotely on a regular or even permanent basis. The digital age means that we’re able to connect, collaborate, and communicate wherever we are on the planet. As a business owner or executive, you may have even reaped the rewards of managing a dynamic remote team.
But, success aside, as a business owner with remote employees, it’s important to understand that keeping on the right side of compliance is essential if you want to avoid any unwanted personal or legal calamities further down the line.
The bottom line: If your employees are working remotely, you will need to adjust or change their contracts accordingly.
New working conditions require contractual changes
While typically based on a standard template or format, professional contracts are tailored to cover every element that is deemed specific to the employee, employer, industry, and working arrangement.
That said, if your employees are now working remotely and are likely to indefinitely, going through all existing contracts with a fine toothcomb is advised.
Certain employment terms and benefits (sick pay or annual leave, for instance), are likely to remain concrete. But, if your employees are working from home, there may well be sections of their contract that either appears redundant or inaccurate as a result of their new situation.
If you fail to address these changes, you could hit complications in the not so distant future—the kind that could end up costing you significant amounts of time or money.
Remote workers have specific rights
Another important thing to note is the fact that remote workers have specific rights—those that should be reflected in their contractual agreements.
Despite the fact that home workers don’t operate in the office, it is your responsibility to look after your employees’ health, safety, and wellbeing.
You must ensure that your remote employees have access to a safe, secure working environment, and have the equipment they need to perform their job properly.
When drafting your new contract, it’s important to understand the rights of Australian home workers as well as your obligations as an employer. By detailing these points in your new remote working contracts, not only will you demonstrate your commitment and compliance but you will also be able to fend off any unreasonable employee requests (those that fall outside of your official contractual agreement).
Remote working contracts: what you should consider
Now that we’ve established why your remote working employees need a new contract, let’s explore the key areas you should consider when drafting your new confidential agreements:
- Your employees’ primary remote working location.
- Your rights as the employee and employer to terminate the remote working agreement.
- Your commitment to providing the right tools and equipment and ensuring health & safety, outlining any rules, limits, and practical parameters.
- Your right to enter your employees’ place of remote work: how, why, and when.
- Your requirements for data compliance, privacy, virtual meetings, and remote working processes.
- Your stance on flexible hours of working and your agreement between employee & employer on required times, productivity, or working days as well as hours.
“As a modern employer, you have to treat people well.”—James Dyson
In this bold new world of remote working, there is absolutely everything to gain. Remote working is proven to boost productivity in addition to wellbeing while offering a level of flexibility that drives innovation.
But, as an employer, it’s your duty to amend your employees’ contracts if they’re going to be working from home in the longterm. Not only is it your responsibility to look after your staff with the utmost care and respect, but you must also protect yourself by outlining reasonable terms or adjustments.
If everyone is clear on where they stand personally as well as legally, everybody wins. That’s why you must change your remote employees’ contracts immediately; maybe sooner.
Need help navigating your remote working contracts? We can help. With years of collective experience, here at The Contract Company, we will draft your new employee agreements with care, accuracy, and due diligence.
Our contract professionals are the best in the biz, so you can be assured that we will get the job done right.