Meet Tara Vasdani, Managing Partner at Remote Law Canada:

Tara Vasdani is the Managing Partner at Remote Law Canada, a pioneering law firm specializing in remote work. With a background as an employment lawyer, Tara’s interest in the legal complexities of remote work was sparked while watching a documentary on digital nomads. Her article on the topic opened doors to a vibrant community of remote work advocates. Tara now assists organizations in navigating the legal landscape of remote work, offering expertise in employment agreements, compliance, and empowering the workforce.

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Quick Read: Tara Vasdani, Managing Partner at Remote Law Canada, Interview Highlights

What are some of the most common misconceptions companies have about remote work, and how do you help them overcome them from a legal perspective?

Tara sheds light on common misconceptions surrounding remote work. One prevalent misconception is that remote work only happens at home. Tara clarifies that remote work encompasses work outside the employer’s jurisdiction and main office. She emphasizes the importance of addressing this misconception by implementing proper policies, procedures, and communication with employees to prevent liability scenarios. Another misconception is the belief that remote employees are unproductive and challenging to monitor. Tara suggests quantifying objectives, monitoring output, and establishing asynchronous work models to effectively manage remote productivity. She emphasizes the need to debunk such misconceptions to encourage the benefits of remote work, such as reduced overhead costs. Lastly, she mentions that companies often assume a one-size-fits-all approach to remote work, whereas it requires tailoring to specific organizational goals and accommodating individual employee needs through comprehensive legal documents and procedures.

“I think that employers can sort of safeguard themselves from ending up in one of these situations where remote work is happening and they’re not aware that it’s happening and then all of a sudden you’re in a liability scenario.”

How is the current remote work trend impacting employment laws and regulations in different countries, and what should companies be aware of as they navigate these changes?

Tara highlights that the global shift towards remote work significantly affects employment laws and regulations, which tend to be localized. She emphasizes the importance of familiarizing oneself with local laws, tax obligations, and specific requirements in each jurisdiction. Employers should consult with local legal counsel to ensure employment laws and regulations compliance. Tara also mentions the significance of data protection when sharing information across borders, emphasizing the use of encryption and VPNs. Moreover, employers should be aware of termination and severance requirements, accommodation obligations, and occupational health and safety regulations in each jurisdiction to maintain a safe and healthy remote workspace.

“Employment law tends to be very localized, and so do tax obligations, for example. And so when you’re thinking about employment laws and tax obligations, it’s really important to become familiar with what those local laws are and what those tax obligations are in various jurisdictions.”

What are some of the unique legal challenges that employers face with digital nomads, such as tax codes and information security?

Tara emphasizes that the independent contractor versus employee relationship poses the most challenging issue in managing global distributed workforces. She explains that courts do not solely rely on the agreement’s title but assess the relationship’s factors to determine whether it aligns with an independent contractor or employee-employer relationship. Tara advises employers to understand these factors, such as the right to hire and fire employees, providing tools and equipment, and work hour flexibility. She also suggests obtaining written statements from individuals choosing to become independent contractors to protect against potential challenges. Additionally, she recommends consulting with local legal counsel and utilizing templated agreements to ensure compliance with local criteria for contractors and employees.

“The courts are not concerned with and actually don’t take into account what the agreement says… It’s really about whether the factors that are alive and well in this relationship demonstrate that it’s an independent contractor relationship or an employee-employer relationship.”

When it comes to contracting services provided by employer of record providers, do they truly offer any legal protection, or do employers still need to be cautious?

Tara explains that employer of record (EOR) providers can be valuable in managing global workforces by taking on administrative responsibilities, such as payroll and compliance. However, employers must remain cautious and verify the EOR’s compliance history, reputation, and expertise. She advises employers to review contractual agreements thoroughly, assess insurance coverage, and ensure indemnification provisions are in place. Employers should also monitor compliance and periodically audit the EOR provider’s operations to ensure ongoing adherence to employment laws and regulations.

“You still need to be cautious because, at the end of the day, the employer of record is incurring liability on your behalf, but it doesn’t absolve you of your obligations as an employer to comply with various employment laws and regulations.”