Canadian Lawyer InHouse

October/November 2021

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

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Page 16 of 35 15 "All employees are not expected to be in the office at one time, offering the opportunity to tailor their time for maximum value." Hina Latif, Mercedes-Benz Financial Services Scali recommends communicating the terms and conditions that will apply to a remote working arrangement in writing to employees. She says that being clear about the exact location of remote work is important and specifying that any alternative remote work location is subject to the employer's approval. "Lack of clarity with respect to the remote work location could lead to situations where an employee assumes it is okay to work remotely from a different jurisdiction without the employer's knowledge, which depending on the circumstances, could have implications on the applicable employment laws, human rights, workplace safety requirements and tax laws," says Scali. Furthermore, suppose an employee handles sensitive and confidential informa- tion. In that case, Scali says that the employer should communicate any specific require- ments to maintain confidentiality and security of the employer's information at the remote work location. With increased stress and mental health issues during the pandemic, employers are focusing on protecting employees' mental health during the transition phase to new working models. At Mercedes-Benz Financial Services, the team provides access to physical activities, including virtual fitness classes, activity tracking contests and designated activities pushed to staff to help alleviate stress. For example, staff will receive a push notification at a particular time to remind them to go for a walk. From a diversity and inclusion perspec- tive, Latif's team also focuses on facilitating dialogue within small group settings to understand unique mental health concerns impacting specific staff. A significant amount of planning is also going into the return to office plan at Purolator. The legal team is part of a cross-functional "return to office" committee established to help ensure that they meet employees' needs and consider their perspectives. "We want to not only retain talent, but attract new talent," says Sourlis. "We are alive to the intensive workloads our employees are experiencing — and their workloads over the last 17 months — so physical and mental health and wellbeing are our top priorities." With this in mind, Purolator has increased educational programs and first aid training for employees and enhanced mental health services and benefits during the pandemic. "The world has changed in so many ways, and our national workforce is diverse with varying needs," says Sourlis. "We really are remaining flexible and fluid with regard to our return to office approach."

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