Can My Employer Force Me to Come Back to The Office?
2 years after the COVID-19 pandemic took hold in early 2020, about 6 in 10 U.S. adults say that their jobs can be done from home for the most part, according to a Pew Research study. 61% of those surveyed say they are choosing to work from home while only 38% shared that they work from home because of a still-closed or unavailable workplace.
And while some workplaces still remain closed, employees who have gotten used to working remotely may be wondering if they can refuse to return to the office should that call come.
Below, we explore the question of can you be forced to return to the office and related questions.
Note: The following is not legal advice. It is general information meant to educate. Please reach out to the Friedmann Firm, LLC to speak with an employment lawyer for advice and guidance.
Can Remote Workers Refuse to Go Back to the Office?
Remote workers have become even more common during the pandemic, with many office workers making the switch when offices closed down early on. For remote workers that may want to refuse to go back to the office, the answer here can be disappointing.
Workplaces set and maintain their own work policies, which will often include where and when their employees work. So long as workplaces are following the rules and guidelines set by the Occupational Health and Safety Administration, they can usually require remote workers to return to the office.
Remote workers can technically refuse, but that may result in being laid off or terminated.
One possible option to consider is to see if your workplace has remote work policies in place that allow for a hybrid approach to work (i.e., working certain days in the office and other days at home). You can approach your supervisor to ask about making this a more permanent option.
You can review your employment contract and workplace guidelines to see if this policy exists. If you need an employment lawyer to help you look over your contract, you can reach out to our team today.
Can I Refuse to Return to the Office?
A worker can technically refuse to return to the office, but your workplace may lay you off or fire you, depending on the situation.
But there are certain situations where a refusal to return to the office may have legal protections. Some individuals are at higher risk to contract COVID-19 due to underlying health issues or being immunocompromised.
In these instances, you may be able to apply for remote work as a reasonable accommodation for certain positions. Reasonable accommodations are protected under the Americans with Disabilities Act and afford covered individuals the ability to request accommodations that will allow them to complete tasks related to their jobs.
Possible reasonable accommodations, as listed by the EEOC in relation to COVID-19, include the right to ask for remote work, if your job can be performed remotely.
Your employer will need to consider your accommodation request if you are a qualified individual. See more information on what counts as a reasonable ADA accommodation here.
Can I Be Forced to Return to the Office?
As said above, your employer does have the right to have employees return to the office (barring certain circumstances that relate to disabilities and health concerns, and childcare), especially if it was understood before the pandemic that work would be done in the office.
Your employer can ask you to return to the office whenever they would like to if they are in compliance with public health guidelines and workplace safety protocols.
Schedule a Consultation with a Columbus Employment Lawyer
With the still rapid changes that are impacting workplaces due to the COVID-19 pandemic, you might find yourself with a number of related questions tied to remote work, returning to the office, and other areas of employment. For further help, please reach out to The Friedmann Firm, LLC today to schedule a consultation with a Columbus employment lawyer.
We handle a wide range of employment law issues, and we can help to answer further questions you might have about the return to the office and your rights.
Connect with our experienced team today for a free, confidential consultation over the phone at 614-949-9755 or submit an online request.
Rachel and Dominick were incredibly helpful throughout the entire process. They got back to me quickly, whenever I had questions, which helped me stay calm during a very stressful time. Rachel was confident in her abilities and knowledge of the labor laws, and she was able to secure a settlement for me. If you ever find yourself in a situation that requires you take action against an employer, I would highly recommend the Friedman Firm. There's no one I would recommend more to be in your corner.
If you are in need of an employment attorney, this is your sign to talk to Rachel and Jamie. Amazing!! They handled my case like the true professionals they are! They stuck to a strategy, even when it seemed like it wasn’t going our way and BAM! We get the outcome we wanted. I couldn’t be happier and I will always return to them if I EVER have an employment issue again. Thank you so much for helping me and my family!
Dedicated! Thorough! Detailed! Professional! Personable! I can keep going with the many qualities Pete and his team have. I highly recommend him!!! You won't be disappointed.
I needed an employment lawyer to work through a non compete. Pete at The Friedmann Firm was listed as one of the three best rated employment lawyers on a local website. I called him in the morning and later that night he was on the case and provided sound council through a very tense negotiation. Don’t take a chance with your career, reach out and get good council. Pete was very responsive every step of the way and delivered positive results. I highly recommend Pete and his Firm!
Rachel was top-notch from start to finish. She was responsible, professional, quick to respond to emails, texts or phone calls. She gives it to you straight, which I prefer! She thinks outside the box and is definitely the dog you want in the fight for you. She does not waste time and immediately dives right in to get the best results she can for you. I would highly recommend Rachel and her firm to anyone who wants to get the job done right, the first time, in a professional, compassionate and decisive manner.
My wife used this firm for a matter she had with her former employer. She could not have been more satisfied with their services. They were timely in responses, courteous, and very thoughtful. This was a difficult process for her and Pete made it so much easier by handling all of the details of her case.
Rachel Sabo of The Friedmann Firm believed in me when no one else did & helped me through every step of my legal process. Very happy with the firm’s professionalism & dedication to my case.
I called them with some questions about my employment and Jamie was very helpful. I didn’t need an attorney to handle a case for me - only to help me navigate an issue I was having at work. She answered my questions and I felt she truly listened to me. I’d recommend this firm to anyone looking for an employment lawyer. Thank you!
Pete resolved issues I was having with my employer in a quick and favorable manner. He is also easy to talk to and understands his clients rights AND needs. You’d do right to call The Friedmann Firm.
I had a terrific experience with Rachel. She handled my case in a very professional manner. She made herself available and always kept me updated. Her knowledge of the law is incredible. She took the time to educate me on the legal processes so I understood what was happening with my case. Thank you Rachel for helping me navigate a most difficult situation. I am so thankful to have had you as my attorney. You have my highest recommendation.