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Should You Lie to Your Boss About How “Remote” You Really Are?


Stuart Rudner here with another Rudner Law video employment law update.

So this morning I was scrolling through my news feed and I came across this article which I thought was quite interesting. Basically they talked to four different people who have been working from exotic locations for the last while but lying to their employers and essentially telling them that they were still in their home city. May sound pretty harmless especially if they get their work done then who really cares right?

Putting aside the dishonesty, which is always a red flag and I’ll come back to that, there are some other concerns that people should be aware of when thinking about permanently moving to a different location but continuing to work remotely.

First of all, which HR laws apply? This has never really been an issue until recently when people are working from different locations, but it’s important to remember that employment standards legislation is generally based upon where the person is based, so for example even in the non-remote times if you had someone who was working for an employer that had their offices in Toronto but they were permanently based in BC for example, then the laws of BC would apply, and if they were working for an American company but they were permanently based in Ontario, Ontario laws would apply. Now we’re seeing this issue more and more with organizations that are going either entirely or partially remote and you’ve now got people who’ve decided that they may as well move somewhere else where it’s either less expensive or a little bit nicer to live, either way if they’re permanently leaving the jurisdiction that they’re in that can mean the different employment standards laws will apply which can have some very significant consequences for both the employee and the employer, which is why the employer needs to know about it.

Second of all, there can be significant tax implications especially if you’re moving out of the country, so again your employer needs to be aware of the fact that you’re not in Canada, if they think that you are.

Unless the job is entirely remote, there’s also a risk at some point the employer is going to require your attendance in the office, and we’ve dealt with this situation several times over the last few years where employees essentially assume that their job would be permanently remote, chose to move to a less expensive or a nicer area or closer to family, and then were told to come back into the office and all of a sudden we had a bit of a stalemate, and at the end of the day employers have said they don’t care where the person lives, all that matters is they show up at work as they are directed to.

The risk for individuals is if they cannot come to work because they are living somewhere far away, they’re essentially risking that they’re going to lose their job, and as I mentioned before dishonesty is risky, it can be just cause for dismissal and frankly even if it doesn’t rise to the level of just cause, many employers are not going to want to continue to employ someone that has been lying to them about where they live, they’re not going to feel that they can trust that person going forward, so you might risk losing your job.

We’ve certainly been advising our clients to be upfront with their employers. If the job is entirely remote then there shouldn’t be any reason why they can’t live in a different area as long as the work gets done, but it’s always better to be up front rather than lie about it and be engaging in dishonesty as well as the other risks I’ve mentioned.

So it may sound great to be working on a tropical island while your colleagues are stuck in a typical Canadian winter but if you lie to your employer about where you are, you may have significant consequences and you may end up out of a job.

That’s all for today, thanks for tuning in.

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