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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