On 02.04.2018 the law on telework (hereinafter referred to as „the Law“) was published. It applies to a great number of employees working outside their work place at the employer. The employment contracts of these employees must be modified.
Context and scope of application
The Law implements a frame agreement concluded at EU-level.
It applies to all employees (teleworkers) that
- work at least one day per month outside the work place set by the employer
- use information technology (i.e. internet etc.) for their work-related activities.
This definition is very wide; it includes also employees who can work from home occasionally or regularly.
Telework is possible only with the consent of the teleworker. The consent must be expressed in the employment contract or, in case of already existing employment contracts, in an addendum. The refusal of the employee to teleworking must not represent a reason for changing the employment contract or for imposing sanctions.
Teleworkers are principally allowed to organize their work schedule by themselves with the employer’s agreement. The employer has a right to verify their work activity on site, according to the terms and conditions of the individual or collective employment contract, respectively to the company’s internal work regulations.
What must be highlighted is the fact that teleworkers are allowed to work overtime at the employer’s request, provided they have given their approval to this effect (observation: this was not included in a previous version of the law; had it been kept in the legislation, this would have presumably led to an inapplicability of the telework in practice).
Changes of employment contracts required
According to the new law, contracts concerning telework must indicate, among other things, the following special contents:
- express indications on telework
- period of time or days in which the work takes place at the work place organized by the employer;
- established places in which the telework takes place;
- period of time and procedures for monitoring the employee at the telework place;
- way of time recording by the teleworker;
- competences agreed upon in the field of occupational safety;
- safety of the goods to be delivered to and from the teleworker;
- obligation to inform the teleworker about the regulations concerning data protection according to the employment contract or the work regulations;
- Measures to prevent the isolation of the teleworker from his or her colleagues.
These and some further pieces of information must necessarily be part of the employment contract of any new teleworker. Existing employees who became teleworkers as the Law came into force must conclude, to this effect, an addendum to the abovementioned employment contract.
Special dispositions regarding occupational safety
As expected, the Law includes obligations regarding the occupational safety. Therefore, the employer (unless otherwise agreed) must ensure
- secure means for the use of information technology and work equipment;
- work equipment;
- conditions for the instruction of teleworkers regarding occupational safety.
The teleworker must also observe the rules of occupational safety. Among other things, he must
- inform the employer about the work equipment and must grant him access to it;
- not change the conditions at the telework place;
- observe the rules of the employer in this regard.
It has to be mentioned that also trade unions and employees’ representatives have access to the telework place in order to „apply and verify the work conditions of the teleworker“. This also applies to authorities that may verify the observance of the rules of occupational safety. In case the telework takes place at the domicile of the teleworker, however, this can only be applied with his approval.
The law on telework is in general welcome, especially because it implements European legislation and serves the current need for increasing the flexibility of employment relationships. However, one may question its necessity, since telework was generally speaking possible also based on the recently applicable law.
As a result of the law on telework coming into force, a great number of employment contracts will have to be changed – for example those of employees working from home on a regular basis (even only once a month). Fortunately, the Law was changed during the legislative procedure, in order for overtime to be possible. Otherwise, the increase of the flexibility of employment relationships would have been endangered in practice.