Employing Remote Workers: Four Important Considerations for Canadian Businesses

The rise of remote work has revolutionized the way businesses operate in Canada. With the increasing availability of technology and a shift in work culture, organizations are embracing remote work arrangements to accommodate employee preferences, expand their talent pool, and boost productivity. While employing remote workers and independent contractors offers numerous advantages, it also comes with important legal considerations for businesses. Here are four main areas to think about:

  1. The Practical Stuff

Before proceeding with hiring a remote employee, it is crucial to consider a few important factors. Here’s what you should keep in mind:

  • Experience: Look for candidates who have relevant experience working remotely or in a similar position. Ask them about their previous work experience and how they managed to work independently.
  • Communication skills: Effective communication is critical when working remotely. Ensure that candidates have strong communication skills and are comfortable communicating via email, chat, video conferencing and other online platforms.
  • Technical skills: Depending on the position, candidates may need to have specific technical skills. Be sure to verify that they have the necessary software and hardware, as well as any certifications or qualifications required. If you plan on providing equipment or reimbursing remote workers for office or technological expenses, it’s important to establish a remote work expenses policy.
  • Time management: Remote workers must be able to manage their time effectively, prioritize tasks, and meet deadlines without constant supervision. Ask candidates about their time management skills and how they stay organized.
  • Monitoring: If you plan on using software to monitor employee activity, it’s important to establish clear guidelines and policies for remote employee monitoring. This includes outlining what types of activities will be monitored, how the data will be used, and how employee privacy will be protected.
  • Legal and tax considerations: Hiring remote workers can have legal and tax implications, especially if the worker is based in a different province or country. Ensure that you have the appropriate legal and tax advice to avoid any potential issues down the line.
  1. Employee vs Independent Contractor

Differentiating between an employee and an independent contractor is essential. Employees work as part of the employer’s business, while independent contractors are in business for themselves and retain control over their work. There are multiple factors that need to be considered when determining the worker’s status.

  1. Employment Standards Legislation

Each province and territory in Canada has its own employment standards legislation, which sets out minimum requirements for areas such as:

  • Overtime
  • Paid/unpaid leaves of absence
  • Excess hours
  • Policy requirements (i.e., Ontario policies for disconnecting from work, electronic monitoring)
  • Termination entitlements
  • Exemptions
  • Minimum wage

To ensure compliance with applicable employment standards legislation, businesses should be aware of the differences in minimum standards based on the jurisdiction, and ensure that their policies and practices meet or exceed these standards.

  1. Occupational Health and Safety

Every province and territory in Canada also has its own OHS legislation, which outlines requirements for ensuring the health and safety of workers. Businesses should be familiar with the OHS requirements in their jurisdiction, ensure compliance, and provide training and support to remote workers.

The key takeaway:

Employing remote workers offers numerous benefits to Canadian businesses, including cost savings and access to a wider talent pool. However, it is essential for employers to navigate the legal landscape and correctly classify remote workers. Consulting with knowledgeable advisors in HR and employment law is recommended to ensure compliance and mitigate potential risks.

Article by:  Brett Rogers, HR Covered