Ask Help Desk: If I take a remote job, can I be forced into an office?

May 13, 2022
Ask Help Desk: If I take a remote job, can I be forced into an office?

By Danielle Abril
Washington Post

In this new era of work, employees who work at an office are finding that return-to-work policies can be tricky. We’ve heard stories from workers about companies that have changed work arrangements from remote, part-time remote to full time in-office. We’ve heard about fears over whether an employer can promise one working arrangement, only to change it weeks or months later. And we’ve heard questions about what protections unions may or may not offer workers when it comes to returning to the office. ... But employees should beware. Asking for an enforceable contract might also give employers the chance to ask for something in return, said Sharon Block, professor of practice and executive director of the Labor and Worklife Program at Harvard Law School. That could mean a guarantee that a worker will not leave for a specified amount of time, for example. But even if employees can’t get an employer to agree to an enforceable contract, it’s still important to get the working arrangement in writing from their employers, Block said. “Most employers want to do the right thing and will recognize they made a commitment,” she said. “For an employer, morale and recruiter costs can be significant.”