Working from home, so-called home office, is a very often discussed in relation to coronavirus pandemic. For many employers, a regular benefit to employees, for others, a new "emergency" measure responding to current dramatic developments. We meet with situations that those employers are not sufficiently prepared to establish a home office from the labour law perspective.
Home Office Agreement required
First of all, it should be emphasized that employers are not entitled to order their employees a home office. To implement the work of an employee outside the employer's workplace, an agreement is required, which can be described, for example, as an agreement on work from home or on the performance of home office (hereinafter referred to as “Home Office Agreement”).
Checking the employee's place of work
According to the Labour Code, the employee's work is to be performed (inter alia) during working hours and at the workplace of the employer or at another agreed place. In this context, we recommend first to check the employment contract of given employee. Specifically, in regards the address of the employee's residence, as well as the place of work in which the work shall be performed - this is sometimes specified by the name of the municipality (e.g. Prague) only, or sometimes by a specific address. If the employee's place of residence is different from the municipality which is the place of performance of work, then the amendment to the employment contract is required. The same applies, of course, if the place of work is defined by a specific address in the employment contract.
Legal specifics of home office
Home office has its legal specifics. First of all, an employee who works at home schedules working hours on his own. The Labour Code stipulates that this employee is not subject to the provisions of working hours, as well as the provisions of downtime or work interruption caused by adverse weather conditions.
However, there are still limits on the maximum length of working hours (set up weekly working hours), which also limits the employer in allocating the amount of work or handing over the amount of material for processing. Also, in case an employee is paid per task or piece of work done, the employee may not be assigned more work tasks than the average employee is able to complete within the set weekly working hours.
Home office employees are also not entitled to wages, salaries or compensatory time off for overtime work, as well as compensatory time off or compensatory wage for work on a public holiday. This rule is related to the aforementioned, when the so-called “domestic” employee schedules working hours on his own.
Regarding other important obstacles to work - for example due to medical examinations or treatment, traffic congestion, public transport delays, the birth of a child, the funeral of a co-employee, the search for a new job, etc., an employee is not entitled to wage or salary compensation, because even here it is assumed the possibility to organize working hours according to the employee's needs. The exception is the entitlement to wage or salary compensation in case of an obstacle to work due to wedding, funeral and relocation - this entitlement remains with the so-called domestic workers.
Requirements of Home Office Agreement
Home Office Agreement may be concluded either as an amendment to an employment contract or as a separate agreement regulating the conditions of work. Regarded the content of Home Office Agreement we recommend, especially:
- to specify the place of work (e.g. the employee's home address),
- to set remuneration rules - define whether remuneration will be paid on an hourly or pieces-work basis,
- to negotiate rules for overtime work or to negotiate work with regard to possible overtime work,
- contractually ensure compliance with health and safety protection at work (for example, adjust periods when an employee is not allowed to work, oblige him to take specified safety breaks and to keep records of working hours, etc.)
- to modify the rules on the method how to determine and give tasks to employee at work, to regulate a place, time and method of transmitting the results of work, as well as the method of subsequent control of the quantity and quality of work performed, reports of performed work, etc.
- to agree whether the employee is entitled or obliged to use his own tools, equipment or other items needed for the employer's work and the amount and manner of providing reimbursement for wear and tear of employee's own tools,
- if the employee is provided with tools or protective aids of the employer, then it is advisable to adjust the regime of their check, or adjust the obligation to return them untimely, etc.
Apart from the current situation caused by the coronavirus pandemic, home office is one of the favourite benefits of employers. In this context, it can be recommended to employers to adjust this benefit in the form of a written internal rules that allows to the employer to determine the rights of employees in employment relations. Such an internal regulation should, inter alia, define to whom shall be allowed to work from home and under what conditions, as well as the conditions for possible withdrawal from the home office or the definition of control mechanisms.
ARROWS advisory group
T: +420 775 552 556