The Covid 19 pandemic has undoubtedly put in the foreground working from home as the predominant form of work engagement. It is noticeable that many employers, even after the formal abolition of the State of Emergency Act and periodical reductions in the number of population which is ill-effected, still practice the organization of work which is predominantly based on „work from home“model.
Changes in the working model have conditioned the Ministry of Labor to publish an official Guide to Safe and Healthy Work from Home (hereinafter: the Guide). The integral part of the Guide is the Working from home Checklist, which implements the rules of Teleworkers Risk Assessment provided by European Agency for safety and health at work, and which has been prepared to facilitate the identification and identification of risks that working from home bears.
The provisions of the Guide state that the employer and employee should conclude an annex to the employment contract, which will include the possibility of working from home for a certain period of time and which will define the rights and obligations of the employee while working from home.
It should be noted here that the Labor Law determines the possibility of “establishing” an employment relationship for performing work outside the employer’s premises, which includes teleworking and working from home. The Law also determines the conditions and procedure for changing the agreed working conditions, but does not prescribe that the annex to the employment contract must be concluded in case when it is necessary to perform work from home, which suggests that such a possibility should be regulated by a individual Employer’s act, in terms of Art. 171, paragraph 1, item 6 of the Law.
In relation to the formal legal manner of determining the work of an employee from his home, we remind you that the Article 2, paragraph 2 of the Decree on organizing the work during the state of emergency have stated that the employer was allowed to enact a unilateral act which enables the employee to perform work outside the employer’s premises.
By interpreting the Decree we might conclude that work from home could be regulated by an unilateral act of the employer instead of bilateral annex to the employment contract, so the dilemma remains whether the form of work outside the employer’s premisses should be the product of mutual will of both sides or the employer could make that decision one-sided.
The remaining content of the Guide provides recommendations and obligations of employers and employees regarding the organization of work at home, with special emphasis on establishing all necessary conditions for safe and healthy work from home and noting the possibility of covering work from home by an act on risk assessment in the workplace and in the work environment.
The Guide points out that risk assessment should pay special attention to the work environment, screen equipment, fire risk and mental health of employees.
Noting that the risk assessment should take into account the risks associated with stress and working outside of regular working hours, and difficulties in separating business from private life, the Guide states that facing such obstacles, without communication and support with the employer, might affect the quality of work performed by the employee as well as his mental health.
Therefore, our conclusion is that the Guide pays significant attention to issues of health at work from home, but also employees safety- it contains numerous recommendations and guidelines regarding the implementation of safety and health measures at work (determining the working space in the home of the employee, checking the correctness of sockets, providing adequate lighting, low noise levels, etc.).
We might expect that in practice a large number of questions will arise from the fact that the employee working from home and the employer will not able to fully interact as when the employee’s work can be monitored and evaluated at the employer’s premises or when the employee can communicate directly with the employer at his usual workplace.
The same applies to issues related to safety at work, ie, for example, possible injuries of the employee during working hours that occurred in the employee’s apartment. We believe that the future will open numerous dilemmas and raise before the court practice the question of the existence of grounds for compensation for damage that an employee suffers during working hours, but at home. Proving a cause-and-effect relationship regarding the occurrence of damage and determining responsibility for the occurrence of damage in these cases will certainly be a challenge for the legal profession.
The existence of guidelines for work from home organizing is a good starting point for this type of work, and the full text of the Guide can be found at the following link: click here to view.
Disclaimer: This text is written for informational purposes only as well as to give general information and understanding of the law, not to provide specific legal advice. For any additional information feel free to contact us.