Politics & Policies

Teleworking and Labour Laws in Canada – The emphasis should be on removing barriers that inhibit working from home

Many of our labour laws and regulations were established in an earlier era when the economy was vastly different than it is today. Just as technological change has made many of our production procedures and skills obsolete, it is not surprising that many of our labour policies would be obsolete. And just as there is resistance to technological change, there will be resistance to changes in labour policies. Luddism can apply to policy change just like it applied to the Luddites who resisted technological change in the early 1880s.

A major change that has been spurred on by the pandemic is teleworking or working remotely from home. For Canada, about 40 percent of the workforce has the potential to work entirely from home, and this corresponds to the proportion that was working from home during the early part of the pandemic. An additional 10 percent could work partially at home, so that around 50 percent of the workforce could work entirely or partially from home. The rate of working from home will likely drop, but only to about half those rates after the pandemic as both employers and workers have experienced the benefits including:

  • reduced commute times with social benefits from reductions in traffic congestion, air pollution, and energy consumption;
  • savings in house prices and rents if they can move to cheaper locations and connect online;
  • productivity gains, or at least not the productivity losses that were often anticipated;
  • fostering work-family balance that can benefit females who have a disproportionate share of household work;
  • better control over one’s work environment with respect to such factors as temperature, lighting, music, and colleagues dropping by;
  • improved worker satisfaction and hence improved recruitment and retention;
  • accommodating disability limitations;
  • providing a cushion against future contagions that are likely to reoccur.

There is a temptation to think in terms of how best to extend our conventional regulations designed for the old world of work into the new world of work involving teleworking. Reasons to resist that temptation have been outlined in the paper. Rather, the emphasis should be on removing barriers that inhibit working from home. Such practices include: extending broadband infrastructure; flexibility in zoning to enable market adjustments to the new reality; and providing information on best practices in this area to facilitate market adjustments to such best practices. Reducing rather than extending regulation in teleworking should foster the growth and competitive markets that facilitate employers and workers making the mutually beneficial choices that can come from this growing workplace arrangement.

Chosen excerpts by Job Market Monitor. Read the whole story @ Are Our Labour Laws Still Relevant for Teleworking? | Fraser Institute

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