Jul 22, 2020

Legal Issues In Remote Work | GRF Dalley & Partner



Although remote working was practiced before the advent of the COVID-19 pandemic, in recent times it has become increasingly popular in various industries as a means of ensuring that business stays open in spite of movement restrictions that were introduced to curtail the spread of the virus.

Remote working has thus far received a favourable response from both employers and employees and as such some companies are considering making it a permanent arrangement by looking into having remote working policies. Remote working gives employers the opportunity to access a larger talent pool and can help them in saving cost.

There are certain legal considerations that employers of labour need to take note of when employing remote labour.

 

1.    CYBERSECURITY RISKS AND ACCESS TO CONFIDENTIAL INFORMATION

Remote working relies heavily on the use of technology to facilitate communication between employers, employees and clients. Employers need to ensure that necessary steps are taken to address the issue of cybersecurity risks and data breaches especially when sensitive documents have to be accessed from home or remote locations. Access to such documents must be restricted only to authorized staff.

The Nigeria Data Protection Regulation 2019 requires that those involved in data processing or the control of data develop security measures to protect data. This would involve protecting systems from hackers, setting up firewalls, storing data securely with access to specific authorized individuals, employing data encryption technologies, developing organizational policy for handling personal data (and other sensitive or confidential data), protection of emailing systems and continuous capacity building for staff.

Employers must realize that by virtue of the provisions of the NDPR 2019, there is a duty of care owed to a data subject in respect of their personal data. By extension, employees who are authorized to have access to such information in the course of their work would also be expected to handle such personal data with care.

2.    ELIGIBILITY FOR REMOTE WORK

It must be noted that not all jobs can be done remotely. Thus, employers would need to clearly state whether or not a particular role can be carried out remotely in their remote working policies in order to avoid confusion.

3.    MEASURING PRODUCTIVITY AND OVERTIME

Work done in the office premises often takes place during defined hours. Time spent working in addition to these defined working hours would be considered overtime and, depending on the agreement of parties, employees may be compensated for such additional work.

Due to the flexibility introduced by remote working, it is generally misconstrued that remote workers do less work than those working within office premises. However, studies have shown that employees working remotely do more work, attend more meetings and oftentimes attend to work demands at odd hours. Therefore, employers may need to factor guidelines for the measurement of productivity and compensation for overtime in their remote working policies.

4.    REMUNERATION

Employers are expected to continue paying wages as agreed on. However, in recognition of the hardships that the pandemic may have caused the business, parties may be required to modify the employment contract through renegotiation of terms.

 

For more information, contact:

GRF Dalley & Partners

Lagos Office:
Gabsdall House (2nd – 4th Floor)
26, Igbosere Road

Port Harcourt Office:
13, Finima Street,
Old G.R.A.

Tel: +23414549824
Email: inq@grfdalleyandpartners.com


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