- The Chamber's labour victory: the employer's obligations related to remote work are more clearly defined in the law
The Chamber's labour victory: the employer's obligations related to remote work are more clearly defined in the law
Since the conditions of a remote workplace are mostly not under the control of the employer, it is not reasonable to require the employer to follow the same rules in remote workplace as when working at the workplace. Therefore, several years ago, the Chamber proposed to specify in the law what obligations the employer must fulfil in case of remote work. The Chamber's proposal was taken into account, and the corresponding amendments to the Occupational Health and Safety Act entered into force on November 19, 2022.
A separate provision was added to the Occupational Health and Safety Act (§ 135), which lists six employer obligations that the employer can and must fulfil in case of remote work. The employer must fulfil other occupational health and safety obligations to the extent that is possible considering the specifics of remote work. In the previous law, there were no differences regarding remote work.
Assessing and mitigating risks associated with remote working
First of all, the employer must reflect the possible risks arising from the nature of the work in the risk analysis of the work environment and, taking into account the peculiarities of remote work, implement measures to avoid or reduce the employee's health risks. Mapping the risks related to remote work is important, because based on this, the employer must instruct employees on how to prevent or mitigate possible risks related to remote work.
As a second obligation, the employer must instruct the employee before allowing the employee to work remotely. Based on the nature of the remote work, there may be a need to instruct the employee, for example, about the safety requirements of the work to be performed and the tools to be used, or ergonomically correct working positions and techniques. After instructions, the employee must be able to recognize the dangers related to remote work and manage them.
Ensuring suitable working tools
As a third obligation, the employer must provide the employee with suitable tools for performing work tasks remotely. The same principle applies to employees who do not work remotely.
Health check, accident at work and sickness benefit
In the case of remote work, the principle remains that the employer must arrange for a health check for the employee working remotely in the same way as for employees working locally at the employer's location. In addition, the employer must continue to investigate occupational accidents and cases of occupational diseases in the case of remote work. The employer still has the obligation to pay sickness benefits to the employee if the employee falls ill.
Other obligations of the employer in relation to remote work
Since November 19, the Occupational Health and Safety Act states that in the case of remote work, the employer must fulfil previously unmentioned occupational health and safety obligations only if this is possible considering the special features of remote work (see Occupational Health and Safety Act § 135 (3)). For example, the employer has the obligation to provide a first-aider and first-aid kit at the workplace, but in the case of remote work, the employer cannot ensure the presence of a first-aider. At the same time, the employer can instruct the employee how to behave in the event of an accident and provide first aid equipment if necessary.
The employee's obligation in case of remote work
Soon, a point will be added to the law, according to which the employee must design a safe workplace and working conditions for remote work based on the instructions given by the employer (see Occupational Health and Safety Act § 14 (1) 11)). However, the employee's occupational health and safety obligations do not exempt the employer from relevant responsibility. However, a clarification has been added to the law, according to which the employer can only be released from responsibility for remote work if the employer has fulfilled all the above-mentioned obligations regarding remote work (see Occupational Health and Safety Act § 14 (4)).
You can read more about the amendments to the Occupational Health and Safety Act that entered into force on November 19 HERE. If you have any questions about changes related to remote work, contact the Chamber's lawyers at firstname.lastname@example.org.