How to undo your WFH arrangements: 4 steps.

If your organization is preparing to call employees back into the workplace after a 15-month work-from-home COVID hiatus, it's important to be aware of the potential legal risks. That includes dealing with workers who want to stay remote, either as a preference or as a legal accommodation.

Here are some best practices for ending teleworking arrangements, according to a report by the McAfee & Tate law firm:

  1. Give employees advance notice of your termination of the remote-work arrangement. Their pandemic schedules and habits are their new normal. Provide as much notice as possible.

  2. Notify them regarding the reinstatement of any "essential functions" that may have lapsed during the pandemic.

    This is important. Address it directly and reset expectations. Specifically identify duties that were not required (or were altered) during the pandemic, and explain that they will be reinstated on the recall date. Rewrite the person's job description if necessary, specifically addressing those essential tasks.

  3. Tell workers to bring concerns about returning to HR immediately. To ensure consistent messaging, designate a specific HR person to have these conversations.

    Be prepared to distinguish between (1) general COVID fear and (2) concerns related to underlying physical or mental impairments. The former is typically not grounds for the worker to refuse to return to the workplace. The latter may require a potential accommodation under the ADA (see page 6).

  4. If employees' concerns...

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