Elon Musk ends remote work at Twitter – and potentially increases the company’s severance liabilities in Canada
The new owner of Twitter Inc., Elon Musk, reportedly sent a mass email to employees informing them of his decision to unilaterally ban remote work at the company. Going forward, Twitter expects all employees to be in the office at least 40 hours per week unless Mr. Musk personally approves alternative arrangements.
Mr. Musk’s move to end remote work has immediate implications for Twitter’s workforce in Canada. For those employees who have always worked from home as a term of employment, the unilateral decree that they must now attend the office could constitute strong grounds for a constructive dismissal claim.
In the decision of Potter v. New Brunswick Legal Aid Services Commission, the Supreme Court of Canada was clear that changes to an employee’s compensation, work assignments or place of work that are unilateral and substantial will result in a constructive dismissal, which allows an employee to seek severance pay.
On its face, a change from remote work to full-time office hours seems drastic and could very well meet the test for constructive dismissal based on existing legal precedent. Specifically, in the Ontario decision of Hagholm v. Coreio Inc., the court found that an employee had been constructively dismissed after the employer ordered her to work only from the office when she had previously been allowed to work three out of five days per week from home.
However, each individual case is unique and there could be other variables to consider. Therefore, any employee who is forced to change their location of work should speak with an experienced employment lawyer immediately to obtain specific advice on their rights and entitlements.
Lecker & Associates is a Toronto employment law firm that has fought for employees for over 35 years. Our experienced employment lawyers act as employee-side legal counsel. We have represented clients in thousands of cases involving wrongful dismissal, constructive dismissal, employment law in Ontario, employment contracts, sexual harassment in the workplace, and short- and long-term disability claims. Call us today or send us a message via our contact form to schedule an appointment.
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