Reining in IBM Remote Workers Could Affect Employee Relations

While many companies today are increasing the number of positions that can be performed from home, IBM has taken the opposite approach. In a surprising decision, the company that was previously known as one of the leaders in remote work called its workers back to the office. 
It’s unclear how many of the nearly 400,000 IBM remote workers will be required to return to office. Nonetheless, some employees are already expressing their dissatisfaction with the announcement that could potentially lead to poor employee satisfaction and retention issues.

The journey back to the office

This announcement has been very surprising for a company known for extolling the virtues of remote work. Ten years ago, IBM reported that 40 percent of its nearly 400,000 employees around the world did not work in an office, yet in this recent decision those in the affected IBM divisions were told that they had 30 days to move to the IBM office relevant to their position or 90 days to find another position within IBM. 

If employee contracts explicitly refer to their jobs as solely work-from-home positions, the employees being asked to return could potentially take legal action. Though IBM stated that the relocation plan was not done to reduce costs, it has been noted that asking employees to relocate can potentially be read as discreet layoffs due to a certain number of workers being unable to move. If this is the case, it could potentially lead to Employment Practices Liability claims for the business.

Employees who feel they are discriminated against can potentially sue your organization and its leadership.Employment practices liability insurance protects employers against claims made by employees alleging discrimination (based on sex, race, age or disability, for example), wrongful termination, harassment and other employment-related issues. Be sure that you are covered. Contact your HUB broker today to learn more about the available coverage.