2 minute read 9 Dec 2020
business people sitting around table discussing

What regulations govern returning to the office as we enter the ‘beyond’ phase

Authors
Paula Hogéus

EY Global Labor and Employment Law Leader and Nordics Law Leader

Advisor to clients on a wide range of domestic and international employment law issues - workforce restructuring, strategic workforce planning, workforce risk management and HR transactions.

Cornelius Grossmann

EY Global Law Leader

Global Law Leader. Passionate about integrity and diversity. Father of five. Fond of classical music.

2 minute read 9 Dec 2020
Related topics Law Tax

For global organizations, moving beyond the COVID-19 pandemic means understanding the applicable laws.

Three questions to ask
  • Is your organization prepared for all employees to return to the office?
  • Has your organization identified “high-risk” employees that will need special treatment in light of the COVID-19 pandemic?
  • Are you aware of the latest regulatory guidance on this topic for your organization’s relevant jurisdictions?

As organizations around the world adapt to the COVID-19 pandemic, employers in many jurisdictions have started preparing for the “beyond” phase. Unlike ever before, key reputational, strategic and human resources questions must be answered about whether the organization can ask all, some or certain employees to resume working from the office or official business premises, either partially or in full.

Collected and consolidated by our labor law professionals in more than 60 jurisdictions, the “COVID-19: Return to office – Legal requirements and considerations tracker (pdf)” captures answers to questions regarding the existing legal framework for returning to the office, enforceability of employment contract obligations, statutory limitations, employees’ rights and obligations, as well as other relevant employment law considerations. It is designed to support organizations in their decision-making at this critical time.

The tracker highlights interesting trends, such as confirming that “high risk individuals” in almost every jurisdiction need specific policy exemptions from returning to the office. While employers may be familiar with certain categories of high-risk individuals e.g., pregnant women and older employees, the COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted a potentially vulnerable group of employees – those with chronic diseases. Employers need to put in place special plans for these employees, who may have been indistinguishable members of the workforce in pre-pandemic times, to ensure that workplace conditions do not expose such employees to the risk of infection.

All jurisdictions require adaptation and awareness at the workplace including mandatory bio-security measures such as hand sanitizer, social distancing and, in some countries, also wearing a face mask. At the time of writing, jurisdictions such as India and Singapore mandate all employees must download and utilize government-developed applications on their mobile devices. Employees must also be aware that in some jurisdictions, the standard employment contract implies that any refusal to attend the office may constitute grounds for summary dismissal – no matter the ongoing pandemic.

We have developed additional trackers on key topics to help you monitor the global situation. You can find them on our EY Tax home page . EY Tax professionals are updating the trackers regularly as the situation continues to develop.

Download our Return to office – Legal Requirements and Considerations tracker (pdf) to understand the regulations governing this area in more than 60 countries.

(While this document is updated on a regular basis, it has been prepared for general informational purposes only and is not intended to be relied upon as accounting, tax, legal or other professional advice.)

Summary

The COVID-19: Return to office – Legal Requirements and Considerations tracker will provide regular updates on the key reputational, strategic and human resources questions to be considered by the employers.

About this article

Authors
Paula Hogéus

EY Global Labor and Employment Law Leader and Nordics Law Leader

Advisor to clients on a wide range of domestic and international employment law issues - workforce restructuring, strategic workforce planning, workforce risk management and HR transactions.

Cornelius Grossmann

EY Global Law Leader

Global Law Leader. Passionate about integrity and diversity. Father of five. Fond of classical music.

Related topics Law Tax