The keys to the Telework Act: Who can benefit from it and where are the limits for companies?

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The decree also includes the control of schedules and obliges companies to pay for both equipment and its maintenance.
Today the law of teleworking comes to light. After a summer of negotiations between the government, trade unions and employers, the draft passes through the Council of Ministers to receive approval and enter into force by royal decree.

The pandemic has highlighted the importance of legislation in this working model, which comes at the very moment when companies are re-establishing their productive rhythms with the return to the offices.

While waiting for the latest details of the new law, which will be announced after the board meeting, the draft law presented reveals the keys that will govern this working model.

Voluntary and reversible
The use of this work model is optional for employees. It is up to each employee whether he or she decides to telework or not. Furthermore, it is a reversible decision.

In other words, an employee who decides to use this alternative now can resume his or her personal work in the office within a few months after notifying the company. In any case, it is an agreement between the company and the employee, which must be obtained in writing.
The employee who decides to work remotely does not see any change in his working conditions. The new law is intended to protect the employee from possible changes that the company will introduce when the workforce is adjusted.

Similarly, telework cannot be considered as a legitimate reason for dismissal of the employee, as the legislation establishes equality of conditions between personally present and not present employees.

Activate media and corporate responsibility
According to the decree that came into force today, it is up to the company to provide the employee with the necessary means to continue his work within the company “including consumables and movable elements” from a distance.

It is therefore the obligation of the company itself to provide the means and equipment for the employee using this modality. Furthermore, it is the responsibility of the company to bear the cost of maintaining the resources required by the employee. This will be regulated in the collective agreements or wage agreements that represent and define the compensation for these costs.

However, it is the responsibility of the employee to ensure that this specific provision is included in a written agreement signed with the company.

30% of the day
One of the issues most discussed during the negotiation phase between unions and employers has to do with the percentage of hours per week from which telework is considered and falls under this legislation.

A certain working day from home is not considered telework, but a measure of the worker’s flexibility. The new law provides that for the application of the adopted provisions to the employee, the distance working time must correspond to 30% of the working day during a period of three months.

Although in the first stages of negotiations the percentage was set at 20% of total hours, the draft, which is being adopted today by the Council of Ministers, increases the percentage to 30%, which corresponds to eleven hours per week.

Schedule management
While waiting for it to be finalized in the final legislation, one of the problems not specified in the draft has to do with the systems that companies can implement to keep hourly records of remote workers.

In addition, telework will include provisions for the prevention of occupational hazards. The draft draws attention to “psychosocial, ergonomic and organizational” factors.
In this context, the Decree-Law contains the provisions foreseen for the rest periods of the employees and the periods during which the employee must offer the company the obligatory availability. However, these provisions are subject to the provisions of collective agreements.

Telework in the public sector
There is also an agreement to regulate distance work in public administrations. For civil servants, teleworking is another basic right as long as personal attention is provided to citizens in the offices.

.In contrast to the private sector, it is the responsibility of each administration to create its own standard