While the pandemic negatively affected a plethora of legal practices, this does not seem to be the case with employment and privacy, according to Schoenherr Counsel Daniel Gera who says that it has been the principal driver of work recently.
“Looking back, not just at the past few quarters but the last 14 months, really, it was our employment and privacy practice that has seen most work,” Gera says. “Ever since the start of the pandemic our clients had to suffer the shock of uncertainties when it comes to switching to home office, regulating unpaid leave, social security, or unavailability for work.” Luckily for Schoenherr, Gera says that most of their clients have managed to escape the need for severe redundancies.
“This year, focusing on the most recent months and the third wave hitting us again, we were prepared, but new issues still came up,” Gera continues and points to matters related to handling employee health, whether or not it is permissible to inquire employees about their vaccination status or candidates during job interviews, and the like. “It is rather natural, then, that privacy aspects arose to follow employment ones.”
Focusing on specific types of legal work, Gera says that their firm has been focusing on three things. “Firstly, we had to prepare our clients for home office concerns – we developed internal home office regulations for several clients that we later used to create a template which we could further tailor to specific client needs.” This, Gera says, encapsulates work safety, data privacy, working hour regulations, home office costs, and the like. “Secondly, with many people working from home, we had to define the parameters of electronic communication methods and making the switch from paper forms.” Lastly, he says that a lot of their clients had to implement flexible worktime patterns. “We created ready-made structures to accommodate for this so that employers can pick them up more easily and can avoid worrying about overtime in home office situations.”
Looking ahead, Gera feels that, in upcoming months, the activity levels of the employment and privacy practice will “either be the same or slightly increase, especially with more and more clients opting to implement hybrid working conditions.”