Canadian Lawyer InHouse

August/September 2021

Legal news and trends for Canadian in-house counsel and c-suite executives

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www.canadianlawyermag.com/inhouse 17 received a lot of inquiries from our clients about challenges to our masking policy, so I anticipate something similar with whatever we do on the vaccination issue. There are two pieces of litigation that we are involved in so far involving COVID related measures, and so I anticipate that may increase once the vaccination issue becomes more of a prominent matter. Petrie: We have researched it a lot, like everyone on this call, and I think it does seem there is a consensus that we can, as an employer, legally demand mandatory vaccines. I am not saying that is the way we are going. I think we are still on the fence a bit. I wish there was clearer guidance from government, so that we do not have to expose ourselves to potential arbitrations, human rights complaints, or potential litigation. INHOUSE: What is your strategy for preparing for the return to physical workspaces? Will you shift to a perma- nent work-from-home policy, full time in the office, or a flexible hybrid model? Ellis: Because of the manufacturing work we do and the products that we prepare, we have been up and running throughout the pandemic. So, there has been kind of a split between the folks that need to be on the assembly lines producing the products and those that are able to do their jobs effective- ly in a virtual environment. I expect us to move to a hybrid model for those folks that are able to do their work from a remote location. We have been actively submitting questionnaires and getting feedback from staff and we are certainly getting some fairly strong messaging back that people are interested in continuing with some form of a hybrid model, and also that a lot of people are very much missing that in- office environment. Pon: We are in the process of developing a policy or procedure to provide some guidance on how to go about this. We were actually looking at remote working before COVID hit just to try to modernize the way we do work, and there was a lot of hesitation, of course. There are some positions that cannot work remotely. I would imagine the school-based frontlines would still be business as usual, for the most part, but for a good portion of our employees, we are going to have something in place, hopefully, by the time September rolls around. At the same time, there also needs to be an investment in the technology to support remote working. In our legal department we are working on a document management system that launched during the beginning of COVID, so that actually helped us with a very smooth transition. Bosma: HSBC is a global organization, so remote working and flexible working is not something that was a big change for us with COVID. It certainly became more intense, and we went from a good portion of people working remotely on any given day to everybody except for our very valuable branch staff and other folks who do need to be present in the office. We are using what we have done in the past and moving towards a very clear hybrid work model. There are certain challenges that arise from remote work for lawyers — particularly with respect to training newer lawyers, who would often learn by sitting with a more experienced lawyer. As we move forward to having a more flexible workforce, I am thinking about how we can make sure that we are giving our more junior members really solid training. Maharaj: We believe in ownership and meritocracy at Kraft Heinz, which means even before COVID, you get to work like an owner, take as much vacation as you want, work where you want and work when and how you want. To be honest, I have no clue how much vacation my team takes, and I was that way before COVID. So, when COVID hit, the flexibility worked very well. The focus on mental health became very, very important and it still is because as we come out of the pandemic, we are going to have different "I expect us to move to a hybrid model for those folks that are able to do their work from a remote location." Robert Ellis, Celestica

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