According to the Working Environment Act, the employer has the overall responsibility for ensuring that work, including work carried out at home, is safe and healthy. On 30 April 2022 – and partly as a consequence of the increased amount of homeworking during and after the Corona pandemic – the Danish Working Environment Authority has therefore issued new and updated guidelines on the occupational health and safety requirements for home work stations.
What do the new rules in the WEA guidelines entail?
According to the new guidelines, specific requirements apply to screen-based work if the employee regularly performs screen-based work at a work station for more than 2 days per week based on an average over a month.
Under the previous WEA guidelines, the requirement was that the employee performed screen-based work at least one day per week or more than two hours per day. The threshold has thus been raised by the new guidelines.
“Regularly" performed screen-based work means that the work has a recurring character and is carried out with some frequency over a period of time and not only occasionally. The assessment of whether screen-based work at home is performed regularly must therefore be assessed in a temporal context and coherence. According to the guidelines, the starting point is that working at home at a screen for a period of approximately 2 months or more will mean that it must be assessed whether the screen work is being carried out "regularly" during that period. A working day is defined as working for 7.4 hours.
If an employee meets the conditions, it means that the employer must comply with certain specific requirements concerning, among other things, the work equipment (monitor, keyboard and mouse), the furniture (swivel chair and desk), work station furnishing (e.g.) lighting conditions, and eye examinations, in accordance with the so-called "Statutory Order regarding Computer Screens". However, it is - still - not a requirement that a height adjustable desk is provided.
How to calculate the days
If the employee carries out screen work at home for 2 days or less and performs screen work at the office for 3 days, it is only a requirement that the screen workstation at the office meets the specific requirements of the Statutory Order regarding Computer Screens. Thus, under the new rules, it will be an "advantage" for the employer to set a limit for the number of days of homeworking, as the employer may then "avoid" having to comply with the rules of the Statutory Order regarding PC Screens for the home office (too).
If the employee performs screen-based work at home for 1 day, at the office for 2 days or less, and at a third alternate work location for 2 days or less (but totalling more than 2 days in a week), there will be a requirement that either the screen work location at home, at the office, or at the alternate work location meets the specific requirements.
In summary: if an employee performs screen-based work for 2 days or more in a week when calculating the total, the “PC screen rules” will apply to one of those locations.
Bird & Bird's comments:
With the new guidelines, the Danish Working Environment Authority has aimed at making the homeworking option more "flexible" for employers, so that the requirements of the “PC screen rules” take effect later than under the previous rules. In other words, the amount of homeworking allowed is increased to begin with before the requirements will take effect. However, the starting point is subject to certain modifications as the decisive factor is whether the screen-based work after calculating the total is performed for more than 2 days per week.
It is still not a requirement that the employer pays for a height adjustable desk, but the desk must meet a number of other requirements in relation to the specific employee.
As the employer has not been obliged or entitled to visit the employee's home work station, the employer is still supposed to actively making employees aware of their rights and encouraging them to request work tools/equipment from the employer for the home work station themselves (provided that the “PC screen rules” apply), and otherwise ensure a safe working environment.