Administration for safety and health at work with the Ministry of Labour, Employment, Veteran and Social Affairs published the Guideline for safe and healthy work from home (“Guideline for working from home“), available here.
Considering that work from home is increasingly becoming the usual way of work for a large number of employed persons, owing to the development of information technologies and due to the current epidemiological situation caused by virus COVID-19, one can conclude that this is a complex way of work that requires prior implementation of legislative and other measures.
The Guideline for working from home published by the Ministry of Labour, Employment, Veteran and Social Affairs (“the Ministry“) has been designed for employers and employees and it provides basic guidelines and recommendations aimed at protection of health and safety during work from home.
What is work from home and how is it regulated?
In terms of the Guideline for working from home, work from home means using information and communication technologies (desktop computer, laptop, smartphone and tablet) that enable performance of jobs outside employer’s premises.
In order to regulate legal employment status of employees working from home, it is necessary for employers to conclude an annex to the employment agreement with employees, so as to agree on the possibility to work from home for a defined period of time and in accordance with the decision on working schedule adopted by the employer and depending on the operation requirements.
Namely, Article 42 of the Labour Law prescribes the contents of the employment agreement that refers to work outside employer’s premises, including remote work and work from home, whereas the same provisions should be contained in the above stated annex to the employment agreement.
Although the Law on Health and Safety at Work does not contain provisions referring to work from home, in terms of definition of a remote place of work, assessment of risk from working from home etc, the Ministry indicates in this Guideline that there are no obstacles and restrictions for application of this law in case of working from home.
Health and safety at work for employees working from home
The Guideline for working from home also indicates that employers shall be obliged to care about their employees in the circumstances of work outside employer’s premises, to the extent possible, as well as to ensure conditions without risk for physical and mental health.
In order to facilitate the recognition and establishment of risk while working from home, a Checklist for working from home has been prepared as an annex to the Guideline for working from home.
The Checklist can help with detection of dangers, harms and possible preventive measures and, if used properly, it can be a part of risk assessment. It does not strive to cover all risks at a place of work, as it needs to be adjusted to relevant sectors or jobs.
Therefore, certain items from the Checklist are: is there natural light in the room, does noise disturb the employee working from home, is monitor properly placed so as not to have reflection that causes eye fatigue, is there sufficient contact between employee working from home and his colleagues etc.
Part “B“ of the Checklist gives examples for preventive measures that may be undertaken to prevent or mitigate risk.
Risk assessment and control of implementation of measures for health and safety at work
Although working environment during work from home is not under employer’s control, this type of work can be covered by an act on risk assessment at working place and working environment, with precise description of working process and assessment of risk from injury and/or health damages at working place and working environment, as well as measures for eliminating or mitigating risk.
Risk assessment should particularly cover working environment, working equipment with monitors, risk from fire and mental health of employees.
Also, this part also gives recommendations and guidelines for monitoring and controlling employees’ work from home.
Obligations of employers and employees
Some obligations of employers stipulated in the Guideline for working from home are: to ensure safe and healthy working place and working environment; to take care of its employees’ health, including mental health; to have regular contacts with employee; to provide employee with working equipment if the employee does not possess it (e.g. employer shall provide employees with computers, software, Internet access etc.); to monitor employee’s output etc.
Some obligations of employees stipulated in the Guideline for working from home are: to apply measures for healthy and safe work; to appropriately use working equipment and handle it with care in order not to jeopardise his health and safety, as well as health and safety of his family; to inspect place of work and working equipment before work and to notify to the employer in case of any detected irregularity; to establish balance between work and private life; in the course of agreed working hours, to keep regular and timely communication with employer; to report any danger and issues in accordance with employer’s internal procedures etc.
Although the publishing of Guideline for working from home is certainly useful both for employers and for employees, it is evident that work from home, whether as permanent or temporary solution, will require amendment of the existing regulations so that the working conditions, distribution of tasks and responsibilities would be explicitly established and regulated.
This article is to be considered as exclusively informative, with no intention to provide legal advice. If you should need additional information, please contact us directly.