The Telework Virus: How the COVID-19 Pandemic Has Affected Telework and Exposed Its Implications for Privacy and Equality
56 Pages Posted: 1 Sep 2020
The Faculty of Law, The College of Management Academic Studies
Date Written: September 1, 2020
The COVID-19 pandemic has expedited numerous technological changes in the labor market. As part of this phenomenon, it has shifted millions of people from working at their workplace to teleworking from home, generating a hybrid space of work—the home-office. The home-office is an intermediate category between the office and the home. As such, it combines the logic and structure of the traditional workplace with those of the private sphere of the employee. Because of its hybrid nature, the home-office and the technology at its base empower the employer to supervise the employee and her family members, also in their private sphere, intensifying the current trend of violating privacy in the digital reality. Mirroring that reality is that the home-office reproduces inequalities from the private domain of the employee to the workplace context. It reproduces in the labor market the gendered traditional roles within the family domain along with socioeconomic disparities among households with respect to access to technology and technological skills. All in all, it prevents workers from equally enjoying the ability to telework. Against this background, this Article suggests ways to begin solving the home-office difficulty. It elaborates on the importance of employees having a voice to balance the private–public power dynamics between employees and employers and to ensure employees’ right to privacy. Additionally, it offers systemic solutions at the federal and state levels to limit the negative effects the private domain has on the ability of underprivileged socioeconomic groups and women to equally integrate into the technological labor market, including in the specific case of telework.
Keywords: COVID-19, telework, privacy, equality, labor law, law and technology
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