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As we head into the latter end of 2020, the effects of the Coronavirus pandemic continues to rear its head as various countries are battling increasing infection rates. Many employers and employees have now somewhat adjusted to remote working, or otherwise known as teleworking, as the ‘new normal’.

Remote working which is also known as teleworking is generally agreed as work performed and carried out by the employee using a computer, telecommunications or other telematics systems (internet, telephone) outside the relevant work locations or offices of the employer.

While this is not an area that is regulated in UK employment legislation, labour law in countries such as Germany, France and most recently Spain have specific legal provisions on teleworking arrangements. Spain has introduced by Royal Decree-Law 28/2020, on 22 September 2020 which aimed at regulating remote working in light of its prevalence and common practice due to the pandemic. Note that in Spain, working from home is distinguished from telework whereby the former is considered to be work carried out at the employees’ homes or at a location chosen by the employees while the latter follows the general definition of teleworking as aforementioned ‘telesystems’. Both fall under remote-working. Unilateral imposition of teleworking arrangements are not permitted in Germany, France or Spain and should be subject to mutual agreement. Whilst in Poland, new legislation (Covid-19 Anti-Crisis Act) introduced in response to Covid has made the imposition of teleworking possible during the pandemic and up to three months thereafter. Employers may only impose telework on the basis that the employee has the abilities, space and technical facilities to perform their role properly. Similarly, employers should provide work equipment, any set ups required for the employee to perform the work, maintenance and insurances. The deadline for employers to comply with remote and tele working regulations in Spain is 22 January 2021.

Employers operating in these countries have obligations to fulfil these provisions under teleworking regulations such as partial responsibility of expenses such as broadband, lighting, heating for the home office, teleworking allowances, the installation and supply of work equipment by the employer are just some of few considerations to take note of.  

Another key point for employers to consider would be the procedures to follow in each of these countries, in the event of making this teleworking or remote working arrangement permanent – through changes to contractual terms and provision in the collective bargaining agreement that may apply.

Of course, there is the matter of monitoring working hours as work life and home life boundaries are increasingly blurred. Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) ruling in the case of Confederación Sindical de Comisiones Obreras (CCOO) vs Deutsche Bank has mandated that employers in Europe must keep track of employees’ working hours in line with Working Time Directive (WTD) and must evidence an accurate system of doing so.

Lastly, health and safety provisions and liability insurances specific to the employee teleworking or remote working should also be reviewed as a matter of course.

If you have any specific questions or queries concerning this topic, please feel free to reach out to the IRIS HR Consulting team.