Home-office regulated! Find out what it means for the IT industry.
Subsidies for energy costs and private equipment used for work, special rights for parents of small children and pregnant women, the possibility of additional home checks for the employee, and the ordering of additional screening tests – these are just some of the new regulations for remote working. What exactly do they mean for IT employers and professionals working from home and hybrid?
Definition of remote work.
Remote work is work performed, wholly or partly, at a place indicated by the employee, and agreed with the employer in each case, including at the employee’s home address, in particular, by means of direct communication at a distance. The work will be provided either entirely remotely, or in a hybrid model, i.e. remotely, as well as at the employer’s premises. At the employee’s request, remote working may also be occasional, but such remote work may not exceed 24 days in a calendar year. In the event of a refusal to grant occasional remote work, employers will be obliged to inform the employee of the reasons, within 7 working days.
Obligations of the employer towards the employee performing remote work
- Providing the employee performing remote work with the materials and working tools, including technical equipment, necessary to perform remote work.
- Installing, servicing, maintaining work tools, or covering the costs of these services.
- Covering the costs of operating work tools, electricity, and necessary telecommunications services.
- Covering other costs, directly related to the performance of remote work, if the reimbursement of such costs, has been provided for in the act setting out the rules for the performance of remote work.
- Provision of training and technical assistance, necessary to perform remote work.
The employer, following the amendments to the Labour Code, must remember to:
- Prepare an occupational risk assessment for the employee, and information containing the principles of safe and hygienic performance of remote work.
Specify the rules for performing remote work. These rules should be set out:
- a) in an agreement between the employer and the company trade union organisation (or organisations – if the employer has more than one company trade union organisation);
- b) in the regulations, if an agreement cannot be reached, and there are no trade union organisations at the employer’s premises;
- c) in an order to carry out remote work; or
- d) in an agreement with the employee, if no organisational trade union agreement has been reached, and no regulations have been issued.
- Develop a data protection procedure, and provide instruction and training in this area, where necessary.
- Receive from the employee, before allowing him/her to carry out remote work, a statement from the employee, asserting that he/she is familiar with the procedures, and an accompanying statement making it clear that safe and hygienic conditions for this work are provided at the remote work station, in the place designated by the employee, and agreed with the employer.
The performance of remote work may be:
- at the conclusion of the employment contract
- during employment
– on the initiative of the employer, or
– at the request of the employee.
An employee’s request to work remotely, is not binding on the employer, unless it is made by:
- a) a pregnant employee,
- b) an employee bringing up a child under 4 years of age,
- c) an employee caring for another member of the immediate family, or another person in the common household, with a disability certificate or a severe disability certificate.
The employer will only be able to refuse remote work to such an employee, if it is not possible to do so, due to the nature of the work, or the organisation of the work. The employer will have to inform the employee of the reasons for the refusal.
- On the employer’s instruction.
The employer will be able to direct the employee to work remotely, in special cases. Such a situation will be possible:
- a) during a state of emergency, a state of epidemic emergency, or a state of epidemic emergency and for a period of 3 months after its revocation, or
- b) during a period, when it is temporarily impossible for the employer to provide safe and hygienic working conditions, at the employee’s current workplace, due to a ‘force majeure’.
However, in order for the employer to direct the employee to work remotely, it is necessary for the employee to declare that he or she has the premises, and technical conditions, to effectively perform remote work.
Employees working remotely:
- Must not be treated less favourably, with regard to the establishment and termination of the employment relationship, terms and conditions of employment, promotion and access to training, for the purpose of improving professional qualifications, than other employees engaged in the same or similar work, taking into account the particularities associated with the conditions, under which the remote work is carried out.
- He or she must anticipate the possibility that the employer may carry out an inspection at the place where the remote work is carried out, during his or her working hours, and in agreement with him or her, for example, with regard to compliance with data protection procedures.
- He or she may be present on the premises of the workplace, under the rules adopted for the general workforce.
- He or she may transmit all requests, for which the provisions of the Labour Code provide for, in written form, on paper, or in electronic form.
Costs of remote working.
The costs of remote work will consist of the costs of electricity, telecommunication services, the costs of tools, equipment, and their maintenance (may be incurred in the form of an allowance, if the employee uses his/her own equipment), and other costs necessary for the performance of remote work. The payment of these costs (possibly an allowance, if the employer does not provide work materials and tools) will be replaced by the payment of a lump sum. The amount of the lump sum to be paid, should correspond to the amount of the expected costs incurred by the employee, in connection with the remote work. The coverage of costs, the payment of the cash equivalent, or the lump sum, will not constitute income for the employee.
Remote working and the IT labour market.
The changes to the Labour Code are not revolutionary. The very fact of regulating remote working is definitely positive – clear rules are a benefit for both parties. The amendment also strengthens the partnership relationship between employees and employers. However, it should be noted that the changes only apply to approximately 60% of employees – as they do not apply to experts co-operating with companies on civil law contracts, including short-term work contracts (approximately 40% of the IT labour market). For those undecided about the form of co-operation, this is an additional incentive to choose a full-time position.
Which employees will gain the most?
- those planning a family enlargement and young parents – the regulations will allow pregnant women to be economically active for longer, and return to work earlier,
- lower-paid/younger workers – for them, the allowance for equipment, energy, and other costs incurred, could be an attractive salary supplement.
What are the main benefits for employers?
- clear definition of where the remote work is carried out,
- the possibility to control the employee at the place of work, including the conditions under which he/she performs his/her tasks, and to draw consequences, if the arrangements are breached.
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