The Dutch make the FMH a legal right; a look at the laws in other countries

While Ireland has a similar bill in the works, countries like Slovakia, Colombia, and Chile have passed remote work options laws with some variations.

The new bill is an amendment to the Dutch Flexible Working Act of 2015, which allows workers to request changes to their working hours, schedule and even their workplace. Photo: iStock

The Netherlands is about to make working from home a legal right for employees. Last week, the lower house of the Dutch parliament passed legislation in this regard. The European country now has to wait for Senate approval.

Currently, employers in the Netherlands can refuse any request from workers to work from home without giving a reason. Under the new law, employers must review all such requests and give valid reasons for refusing them.

“It allows them (employees) to strike a better work-life balance and reduce the time spent traveling,” said Senna Maatoug of the GroenLinks party, as reported by the the wall street journal. Maatoug was one of the co-authors of the bill.

Also Read: Why Technicians Are Still Taking Time To Zoom In On Working From Home

The new bill is an amendment to the Dutch Flexible Working Act of 2015, which allows workers to request changes to their working hours, schedule and even their workplace. The nation is already well regarded for its workers’ rights.

Different companies, different measures

The new legislation comes at a time when companies around the world are struggling to get workers back into the office. While some companies have been accommodating in bringing their employees back, others like Salesforce have mostly done away with office work altogether.

Some others, like Tesla, forced employees back into the office. Tesla founder and CEO Elon Musk had warned employees that they could either return to the workplace or leave the company.

For Dutch companies, the new legislation should not be so controversial. With 14% of the workforce already working remotely two years before the pandemic, according to Eurostat, acceptance of remote working is much higher in the lowlands.

But legislation and regulation have had to catch up, as remote working has seen a significant increase since COVID in 2020.

Ireland publishes draft legislation

As in the case of the Netherlands, Ireland is also taking the legislative route with regard to teleworking. The Right to Request Remote Work Bill 2021 has been published and once enacted will give employees the legal right to request remote work.

The bill will, for the first time, provide a legal framework around which the request, approval or denial of a request for remote work can be based. It would require all workplaces to have a written statement setting out the company’s remote work policy, detailing how remote work requests are handled and the terms that will apply to remote work generally at within the organization.

Written agreement in Slovakia, Argentina

Some other countries have also passed laws regarding remote work. Angola and Argentina have adopted what they call telework legislations, where telework must be established by a written agreement for each employee. In addition, remote employees have the same rights as on-site employees and they have the right to log off after working hours.

Also in Slovakia, new legislation on teleworking, amending the Slovak Labor Code, entered into force on March 1, 2021. Under the legislation, teleworking must be agreed in writing between the employer and the employee. in an employment contract. While giving staff working remotely the same rights as on-site staff, the legislation also states that “employees and employers can agree that employees will determine their own working hours for flexibility.” In this case, however, the employee may lose the right to certain salary bonuses.

Remote work laws in Chile and Colombia

The Chilean government passed a law on remote work and telework in 2020. The new law makes a distinction between remote work (when services are provided from the home or a place other than the establishment, the place of work or branch of the company) and teleworking (when services are provided by an employee remotely using technological tools). By law, remote work and telecommuting require a written remote work agreement which must be registered with the Chilean Department of Labor within 15 days of signing the agreement.

The Colombian government recently passed Law No. 2121 and its implementing regulations establishing a remote work regime. The new regime applies to all workers and all employers (private and public sector) in Colombia. Under this law, employers are required to respond within five days to employees’ written requests to work from home. Employees can carry out their work abroad if permission is given by their employer.

Also read: Get ready for the new normal: working from home

In addition, remote working arrangements must be agreed by the employer and employee and employers are required to implement an internal remote working policy in line with the new legislation. In addition, the law stipulates that remote work must apply for the entire duration of the employment contract.

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