Technology at work – your questions answered

Sunira Chaudhri

Sunira Chaudhri

Toronto Employment Lawyer

The best way to enforce a change like this across the board is by sending a copy of the policy with advance notice to employees (ie: 90 days) to allow time to transition and for concerns to be raised and accommodations to be made. To facilitate employee engagement, ensure a copy of the updated handbook is signed by each employee the next time any raise or bonus is offered by the company.

As artificial intelligence and other technology platforms begin to disrupt our workplaces, I have received more and more legal questions about the impact technology will have on employment law.

 

Here are some of the key questions my firm has tackled this quarter:

 

Q. My employer is a major technology company and has laid off hundreds, if not thousands of employees in the last year. I was recently let go, but my department head said that he may be able to “get me back in” when the market shifts. Does this mean I should accept whatever I am being offered in my termination package in case I get rehired?

 

A. Review your termination package to determine if there is a repayment obligation in the event you reemploy. Markets can shift but with no promises of rehiring, the best practice is to treat your termination as though it is final. Contemplate how long it will take you to find a similar job and similar level of pay. Too often employees accept low packages with the hopes of maintaining previous relationships. In the long run, this may not serve you well, particularly if you remain unemployed longer than you hoped.

 

Q. My employer uses an online engagement platform for employees to use to rate job satisfaction, sign up for courses and complete performance reviews. It feels like there is an expectation for employees to use the portal outside of working hours to show loyalty to our company. I have not subscribed to the portal even though I have been encouraged to. Do employees have to use “employee engagement” tools?

 

A. Talk to human resources about how engagement tools impact performance reviews at your company. Engagement tools can provide employers a quick snapshot of an employee’s contributions and chances for promotion. While employees may not be formally required to use these platforms, electing not to use them could reduce your visibility to management and limit your prospects for raises and advancement.

 

Q. As an employer we oversee various departments like product development, sales and consulting. We encourage our product team to employ artificial intelligence tools to power our development initiatives. We don’t want employees using artificial intelligence for all tasks, however, like writing reports. How do we draw boundaries employees will follow?

 

A. If you are embracing artificial intelligence in the workplace, employers must follow a strict process. Vet the product you are using (to ensure your private information remains confidential) and create boundaries, by way of a policy, for employees to follow when it comes to using artificial intelligence. Too many employers are already encouraging employees to use artificial intelligence without clearly restricting the use to certain tasks. Distribute a policy, discuss it at team meetings and follow up with employees a quarter from now to ensure it is being adhered to.

 

Q. Our company has updated our employee handbook, which contains significant changes to our rules around hybrid and remote work. We have circulated it to employees by email and have uploaded it to our company intranet. Employees however are complaining they were not aware of the policy and have rebuffed our attempts to enforce the new policy. How do we enforce it across the board?

 

A. Changes to the right to work remotely is a significant change to an employee’s expectation around work. Circulating a policy that substantially changes the rules and mandates people back to the office will take a lot of notice and collaboration.

 

The best way to enforce a change like this across the board is by sending a copy of the policy with advance notice to employees (ie: 90 days) to allow time to transition and for concerns to be raised and accommodations to be made. To facilitate employee engagement, ensure a copy of the updated handbook is signed by each employee the next time any raise or bonus is offered by the company.

 

To accept a raise or bonus, employees may be asked to sign the updated handbook after having an opportunity to review it.

 

Have a workplace issue? Maybe I can help! Email me at sunira@worklylaw.com and your question may be featured in a future column.

 

The content of this article is general information only and is not legal advice.

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