Employment Law

RBC wants employees in office three or four days a week starting May 1

severance pay for rbc employees

Royal Bank of Canada (RBC) informed employees this week that it wants them to return to the office three or four days a week, starting May 1.

Memo to staff: RBC sent a memo to staff addressing the shift away from remote work as the country’s largest lender eases its COVID-19 protocols. The note was reported by Reuters and later confirmed by a spokesperson at the bank.

  • “Starting May 1, employees in hybrid work arrangements will come together in person for the majority of the time,” says the memo. “This means you have the option to work remotely for one to two days each week, depending on your team.”
  • Senior leaders at RBC will finalize plans for a return to the office and update individual teams.

Best of both worlds: In 2022, RBC Chief Executive Officer Dave McKay urged its employees to come back into the office more often. He also admitted that the hybrid work concept was “here to stay.”

Growing list of companies: RBC joins a growing list of large employers in Canada asking their staff to transition back to the office.

  • Amazon CEO Andy Jassy issued a memo to workers indicating that they had to spend at least three days in office starting May 1.
  • National Bank of Canada is asking employees to spend 40% of their workweek in the office.
  • Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce (CIBC) started bringing staff back to the physical office in March of 2022. However the amount of time an employee is expected to spend at the office depends on the role, a stance also taken by Scotiabank and Bank of Montreal (BMO).

Can RBC force employees to return to the office?

Yes, RBC can force employees to return to the office more often starting May 1. This applies if RBC allowed you to work remotely as a temporary measure during the COVID-19 pandemic, but your employment contract ultimately requires you to work in the office.

This includes non-unionized individuals working full-time, part-time, or hourly in Ontario, Alberta, and B.C.

Employers in Canada generally have a right to determine where staff work — as long as it meets the standards required for a safe workplace.

I was hired as a remote worker, do I have to start working from the office?

If the employment contract you signed with RBC doesn’t require you to work in the office, it’s very likely that your employer can’t make you shift to in-office work.

In some cases, companies ask remote workers to sign a new agreement that does require them to work in the office instead.

If your employer provides you with a new employment contract, don’t accept anything until you speak with an experienced employment lawyer at Samfiru Tumarkin LLP.

WATCH: Employment lawyer Lior Samfiru explains the five things workers need to know about employment contracts on an episode of the Employment Law Show.

Your boss can’t legally force you to sign a new agreement immediately or a few days after receiving it.

In many cases, these agreements take away key protections that would otherwise be available to non-unionized employees in Canada.

Our firm can review the contract and ensure that your workplace rights are properly protected.

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Can my employer punish me for refusing to return to the office?

If your employer allowed you to work remotely as a temporary measure, but your employment contract requires you to work in the office, the company can punish you for refusing to resume in-office work.

However, if your agreement doesn’t require you to work in the office, your boss can’t make significant adjustments to your job to punish you for turning down the switch to in-office work.

Major modifications, such as a demotion, shorter shifts, or a reduction in pay, are illegal in Canada.

If you were hired as a remote worker, and negative changes are made to the terms of your employment after you refused a switch to in-office work, it’s very likely that you could treat it as a constructive dismissal.

In this situation, the law allows you to quit your job and pursue full severance pay.

However, you shouldn’t resign until you seek legal counsel.

An experienced employment lawyer at Samfiru Tumarkin LLP can confirm that you have been constructively dismissed, assess your legal options, and ensure you receive the compensation you are owed.

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How is severance pay calculated?

In Canada, severance for non-unionized employees can be as much as 24 months’ pay.

The amount of compensation you are entitled to is calculated using several factors, including:

  • Age
  • Position at the company
  • Length of service
  • Ability to find new work

Our firm’s free Severance Pay Calculator can help you figure out how much you are owed.

If your company doesn’t provide you with the correct amount, you have been wrongfully dismissed and should contact Samfiru Tumarkin LLP immediately.

Our experienced employment lawyers regularly resolve wrongful dismissal claims and can help you secure proper severance.

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Can my employer fire me for refusing to return to the office?

Employers can fire non-unionized workers in Canada if they refuse to return to the office.

This is called a termination without cause. Companies can let you go for any reason, as long as:

If you refuse to return to the office, but your employment contract requires you to do so, your boss might be able to fire you for cause.

This type of dismissal is reserved for the worst kinds of workplace offences, such as serious insubordination, theft, or assault.

In this situation, the company doesn’t have to provide you with a severance package and you can’t access Employment Insurance (EI) benefits.

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What if RBC staff can’t return to the office on May 1 because of a disability?

In Canada, employers are legally obligated to assist workers who can’t perform their job due to a disability (either physical or psychological), religious reasons, or other constraints.

As part of their duty to accommodate, companies may have to:

  • Modify the shift (i.e. allow certain RBC staff members to continue working remotely past May 1)
  • Change an employee’s job requirements
  • Provide someone to help an individual complete their tasks

The goal is to ensure that staff can continue to perform their job duties, despite their disability.

If you believe that your employer hasn’t properly fulfilled their duty to accommodate, contact Samfiru Tumarkin LLP.

Our lawyers can help you secure the compensation that you are legally entitled to through a constructive dismissal claim.

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Lost your job? Speak with an employment lawyer

If you are fired or let go for refusing to return to the office, or for any reason, contact the experienced employment law team at Samfiru Tumarkin LLP.

Our lawyers in Ontario, Alberta, and B.C. have helped tens of thousands of non-unionized individuals resolve their workplace issues.

We can review your situation, enforce your workplace rights, and ensure that you receive the compensation you deserve.

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