What does the law say about working from home?

The concept of working from home does not appear in the Health and Safety at Work Act. We are familiar with the term 'place independent work'. There is a mandatory working conditions regime for this. We now explain to you which rules there are around working from home and where the responsibilities of employees and employer lie.
What does the law say about working from home?
When are you a homeworker?
You are a 'home worker' if you work from home for more than 2 hours a day. And when does this apply?
  • The employer directly or indirectly obliges the employee to work from home;
  • Arrangements have been made about working from home;
  • Working from home by the employer is tolerated.
The legal framework for working from home
What rules are there for working from home and what are the responsibilities of the employee and employer?

1. Is there a right to work from home?
As an employee you can submit a request to work from home. This is possible after 6 months of employment (or you made agreements about it when you started working). It can also be arranged in your collective labor agreement. But as an employee you cannot force working from home, but the employer must 'seriously consider' a request. The employee may request an adjustment once a year. Does the employer not respond, or is it too late? Then he silently agrees.

2. Can an employer reject a request to work from home?
A rejection does not have to be based on compelling business interests. General and broad grounds for rejection are sufficient. For example, that it does not match the nature of the work, the development of the company or a certain department. These compelling interests do play a major role in the other types of requests. For example, adjustment of working hours from 40 to 32 hours. Then as an employer you need a compelling interest to reject that request.

3. What are the employer's obligations when working from home and to what extent is an employer liable?
"We previously indicated that if you work at home for more than 2 hours a day, you can be called a "home worker". The start of working from home, during Corona, could still be seen as occasional home working. Now we can do that as something more I believe that if you have an employee working from home for 3 months, you should also observe the rules. That is also in your own interest as an employer because if an employee does not use the right materials for a longer period of time, There is also a risk of dropout and therefore a greater chance of disability," says Niki van Mook - employment and corporate law lawyer. "The employer can check whether the home workplace is in order, with an occupational health expert or on the basis of photos and film material."
The employer has a duty of care. If the working conditions are not always safe or ergonomic, there is a risk of a fine from the inspectorate. In addition, the employer is obliged to give proper instructions with regard to the risks of VDU work.

4. What are the obligations for the employee when working from home?
  • The employee must adhere to reasonable instructions from the employer, just like at a normal workplace (6:770 Dutch Civil Code employer's right of instruction). Also applies to the instruction to work from home.
  • Employee must follow specific occupational health and safety instructions. And to use the resources made available.
  • The employee must behave as a good employee. Think of working hours, productivity, guaranteeing confidentiality, accessibility, etc.

5. Recording appointments
You and your employee agree that you may work from home. How do you record these agreements?

Home work agreement on an individual level with the employee;
Working from home scheme collectively, can also be part of the personnel scheme.
  • Pay attention to OR's right of consent;
  • Privacy legislation: tightened by GDPR

6. Privacy
It is important that you make agreements with your employee regarding data protection and to prevent data leaks (such as storing mobile devices, leaving documents visible for visitors, etc.).

7. Can a right to work from home arise after some time?
All in all, it is not easy for an employee to force him to work from home. On the other hand, the employer can and may instruct that, for example, 1 working day at home will be mandatory. In March, during the Corona outbreak, working from home was imposed. The employer also determines when working from home will end. There are now voices that there is a desire to enshrine working from home in the law.

"The WKR describes the legal rules regarding reimbursements."

8. What are the costs for working from home and who bears those costs?
Some collective labor agreements contain agreements about compensation for working from home, such as the costs of furnishing a home workplace. The legal rules regarding reimbursements are described in the work-related costs scheme (WKR). Through the work-related costs scheme, employers can provide allowances to employees without having to pay payroll taxes on this. This arrangement has been extended as of 1 January 2020. The employer may give tax-free allowances up to 1.2% of the wage bill, the wage of all employees together. As of 2020, this free space will be increased by 0.5 percentage point to 1.7%.
Work-life balance. Is this still there?
"We have all been able and allowed to experience what it is like to work from home. For one employee it is a relief because more is being done and he is less disturbed by, for example, colleagues. The other misses social contacts and chatting at the coffee machine. However, we are increasingly noticing that it is difficult for workers to maintain a good work-life balance. And this leads to a growing number of stress complaints, experts tell us."

"The psychosocial workload is difficult to measure from a distance. There is little or no insight into the employee, it requires a different management style and many workers are afraid of losing their job due to the possible approaching recession and therefore prefer not to say how things are going. really goes with them. In addition, we notice (and various studies, including Bloomberg March 2020, endorse this) that people work more hours and longer consecutively at home" (Niki van Mook - employment and corporate law lawyer). 
These products make your work easier
As described earlier, the employer has a duty of care to provide people who work at home with the correct (ergonomic) resources. In addition, the obligation to inform the employee well about working from home. There is also the challenge of the hours that people work at home in combination with their private lives. Agreements must be made about the frequency of working from home and how the home workplace should be set up.

"Important when arranging the workplace is a good position of the screen, matching the chair and table height so that the arms can assume a relaxed position, place the mouse close to the body and adjust the chair so that feet, thighs and lower back are well supported. With a laptop it is necessary to use an extra keyboard, a mouse and possibly a screen." (source: health and safety portal)

Good home workplace
As the Working Conditions Portal describes, a good home workplace consists of a number of components.

1. The correct position of the screen
When you work with a laptop, this can be achieved with a laptop stand, such as the Ergo-Q 330 or the circular and durable version of the Ergo-Top 320. If you have a laptop or use a desktop PC, you also have need an (external) monitor. With a monitor arm or monitor riser you can place the screen at the correct viewing height and distance.

2. Provide the correct chair and table height.
A kitchen table is often higher than a desk. A good desk, whether or not height-adjustable, plus a good office chair is essential.

3. When using a laptop, an external mouse and keyboard is of great importance.
With these two aids you can adopt a relaxed and compact working position, which puts less strain on your muscles and reduces the risk of physical discomfort. The UltraBoard 950 compact keyboard ensures that the mouse comes closer to the body than a standard variant.
"WORK & MOVE software demonstrably contributes to sustainable performance improvement."
Physical and mental fitness
In addition to the practical hardware solutions that are necessary at every home workplace, it is also important to coach people on their behavior. Do they take regular recovery moments? Are they not staring at a screen for too long? BakkerElkhuizen has developed the WORK & MOVE employee well-being software for this. The WORK & MOVE software demonstrably contributes to a sustainable performance improvement. As a personal coach, WORK & MOVE ensures sufficient variation between mental and physical movement and concentrated computer work.

WORK & MOVE gives your employees insight and feedback about their work behaviour. Based on personal preferences, the software recommends an optimal work-rest-exercise rhythm. The software teaches employees to make these routines their own. By regularly inserting mental and physical moments of movement (so-called pit stops), your employees remain energetic and they work more concentrated.

Scientific studies show that pit stops also have a positive effect on productivity and quality of work. Several Dutch employers, such as ASR, Capgemini, National Netherlands and Oasen, offer the WORK & MOVE software to their employees.
WORK & MOVEā„¢ Software

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