Can employers require you to return to the workplace in individual?

LOUISVILLE, Kentucky (WAVE) – As Kentucky COVID restrictions are lifted soon, companies and employees are starting to make decisions about how to get back to the office.

Matt Stack and his staff at Stack Insurance have been working remotely since March 2020. While he said he missed personal team collaboration, he told WAVE 3 News that the flexibility was nice.

“I think we got through this well and were just as efficient and I think our customers think the same way,” he said.

Stack Insurance recently moved their office to a new building. Stack said they had moved to an office with “less dedicated space and more shared space.”

“We are now in a room with a smaller office environment, but when we need to meet customers we have a lot more shared conference rooms and the like. So it was a win, a win for us, ”said Stack. “We just had an office that was used as a storage room for months and we think it’s a little better set up.”

Stack Insurance has four full-time employees. One of the employees was permanently dismissed before the pandemic, so they learned from it and built on it.

He told WAVE 3 News that they hadn’t had a formal discussion about returning to the office full-time because working remotely had worked so well for them.

“Whether you have a need for childcare or for whatever reason, it’s a nice benefit,” said Stack. “I think it’s an integral part of our business development and I think a lot of companies will consider the same type of model.”

He said they would mostly work remotely for the time being, but could see a hybrid model eventually put into practice.

UofL law professor Sam Marcosson explained how a worker’s rights are compromised when an employer asks them to come back to the office.

“The general rule is that you can say that a requirement of the job is to be present, to be in the workplace as we define it, and then we can set the rules for when you can work elsewhere whether from home or on the go, wherever you are, ”said Marcosson.

He said there were some exceptions to this rule, mostly for medical reasons that would require you to work from home.

“The exceptions are important,” said Marcosson. “The exemptions usually apply to people who have to work from home for any reason, usually a medical disability, if they can demonstrate that it would not be hardship for the employer to do so.”

Marcosson said, however, that someone’s fear of getting COVID, even if they are fully vaccinated, may not be enough to keep them from being told to work in an office again.

“Now when the anxiety reaches the level of a disability so that it interferes with one or more of your most important life activities, you may be able to enforce it,” said Marcosson. “But if you have to be in the office and you refuse to do so, it could be a reason for the employer to say that you cannot perform the essential functions of this position and that we need you in the office, no matter what type of workplace.”

Marcosson told WAVE 3 News that like mask and vaccine requirements, every employer has the right to decide what requirements they have.

“I think what we’re going to see are very different guidelines from different employers, covering the gamut from being flexible to rigid to being able to work from home,” said Marcosson. “Because the workplace and our idea of ​​how to get work done and where to do it has changed. I think a lot of employers have changed radically and will not return the way they used to. “

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