Is There An Individual Right to Remote Work? A Private Law Analysis

ABA J. of Labor & Emp. L. (forthcoming 2020)

University of Florida Levin College of Law Research Paper No. 20-46

8 Pages Posted: 11 Nov 2020 Last revised: 15 Dec 2020

See all articles by Rachel S. Arnow-Richman

Rachel S. Arnow-Richman

University of Florida Levin College of Law

Date Written: 2020

Abstract

One of the gnawing legal questions of the COVID-19 pandemic is the status of remote work. Since the expiration of the first round of government shut-down orders in the summer of 2020, companies have been calling workers back to the job, prompting serious concerns about the risk of workplace transmission. As a consequence, many workers have asked to continue the remote arrangements their employers adopted when forced to close under executive orders. Some employers are acceding to these requests; others are not. This brief essay, prepared for the ABA Journal on Labor & Employment Law, considers this problem from a private law perspective. It concludes that public law offers little protection to individual employees other than those with qualifying disabilities. Companies, however, may be in breach of contract if they terminate employees who have enforceable job security rights for refusing to return to in- person work. Rather than rely on guesswork, the prudent and compassionate choice for employers is to continue temporary remote arrangements to the extent feasible.

Keywords: Labor, Empolyment, Remote Work, COVID-19

JEL Classification: K12,K31

Suggested Citation

Arnow-Richman, Rachel S., Is There An Individual Right to Remote Work? A Private Law Analysis (2020). ABA J. of Labor & Emp. L. (forthcoming 2020), University of Florida Levin College of Law Research Paper No. 20-46, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3727532

Rachel S. Arnow-Richman (Contact Author)

University of Florida Levin College of Law ( email )

P.O. Box 117625
Gainesville, FL 32611-7625
United States

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