Can You Insist to Work From Home?

Understanding the Law

You got into the habit of working from home, but your employer is calling for a return to the office. Can you refuse? Here are three important things to keep in mind in order to get along with your employer and keep living your “dream life.”  

Is it a working condition?

Your employer may have granted you the right to work from home as a “temporary benefit.” However, if it’s included in your employment contract, working from home can be considered a working condition that your employer must respect. If it’s not included in your employment contract, then you generally cannot insist to keep working from home.

If you have no employment contract, turn to the documents you received when you were hired. If the place of work was set as the employee’s residence, then working from home is a working condition. In these circumstances, if your employer allowed you to work from home, they cannot take this right away without a good reason for doing so or without your approval.

You’re thinking of accepting a job offer and working from home is important to you? Find out more about your new job’s work-from-home policy to avoid unwelcome surprises.

Resign only if that’s what you really want

If working from home isn’t a working condition, but it’s important to you, it may be tricky to resign as a way to put pressure on your employer. Your employer could simply accept your resignation and you’d be out of a job.

It would also be difficult to prove that you were the victim of “constructive dismissal,” i.e. that your resignation was not a free and voluntary decision because your employer indirectly coerced you to resign.  

It’s true that if your employer forces you to resign, this may constitute constructive dismissal. However, if your employer can prove that your resignation was free and voluntary, and that they did not force you to quit, the court cannot hold them responsible for your decision. To prove this, your employer could show that they did not intend to harm you or create circumstances to force you to leave. They can show that the measures they took were solely to meet the needs of their business.

45 days max

Do you believe you’ve been the victim of constructive dismissal and want to file a complaint? You have 45 days to do so with the Commission des normes, de l’équité, de la santé et de la sécurité du travail (CNESST or Quebec’s labour standards, pay equity and workplace health and safety board). Beyond this delay, your complaint will only be processed if it was impossible for you to act sooner. The CNESST also offers a mediation service for those who are interested.