Relocating and teleworking: what are the limits?


One Tuesday evening, I was comfortably seated in front of the television when my phone rang.

My friend Simon on the other end: Hi Melanie, it’s Simon. My roommate and I had an HR question and I thought of you!

Me: Great! What’s the question?

Simon: We were wondering: if I move several miles away from my workplace… Could my employer ask me to come back to the office? You see, we’ve been working remotely for a year now!

The answer is yes! The employer has the right to demand a return to the office as before the pandemic. Here’s why:

Government Orders and management right

It is the Order No. 2020-105 of the Minister of Health and Social Services that imposes the fulfillment of duties through telework. The exceptions are “employees whose presence is essential to the pursuit of the activities of the business, organization or public administration[1].  The state of emergency, orders and decrees were put in place to fight against Covid-19, and will be lifted gradually as the situation improves. The employer will therefore regain this right in the coming months and will be able to exercise it again with regard to telework.

But what is management right? According to the definition found on the CNESST website: “It is the employer’s right to direct their workers and to make decisions to ensure the profitability of their company and the smooth running of their affairs.[2]. Telework is part of this.

Apply one’s management rights, there is a “but”!

For over a year now, employees have been enjoying the benefits of telecommuting. Its flexible schedules allow them to enjoy the time they have available. Considering the current labour shortage, it would be unwise to make a hasty decision – at least, without analyzing the situation of returning 100% to the office.

Will your employees leave if you don’t implement a telecommuting and flextime policy? And will it be attractive for a candidate to apply to a company where a job that can be done remotely requires that it be performed at the company’s address? I encourage you to read or re-read my interview with Yannick Baril, CPA to be inspired by the positive effects of such a change.

The literature on the topic of telework is abundant.  However, should you read only one piece on the matter, it has to be the guide prepared by the Ordre des CRHA to which our co-associates Julie Tardif, CRHA and Médina Cayer, MBA, Adm.A., C.M.C., CRHA, ACC have contributed.

Finally, if you haven’t already done so, contact a human resources expert to guide you in your reflection. Determining the perimeters while respecting the DNA and training the managers are the keys to success in attracting and retaining your talent within the organization.

Contact us

By Mélanie Gauthier, CRHA – Human Resources Consultant
HR Blog Editor – Iceberg Management

[1] Minister of Health and Social Services (2020).  Order No. 2020-105 of the Minister of Health and Social Services issued on December 17, 2020.
[2] Commission des normes, de l’équité, de la santé et de la sécurité au travail :