‘A one-way ticket to the sun please’: remote working and what employers should consider

Since COVID-19, remote working has become common practice; both working from home and also working from another country. If you as an employer facilitate this or want to start facilitating remote working, the following points are important. Read this blog to be well informed.

Occupational health and safety policy

Employers must ensure that their employees can work safely and healthily. This creates a duty of care for the employer. Employers are therefore obliged to implement a health and safety policy. The occupational health and safety policy consists, among other things, of a risk inventory and evaluation (RI&E). This RI&E states the risks that the nature of the work entails in terms of the health and safety of employees. The workplace of employees can also be a risk, especially if the workplace is not in the office, such as at the employee’s home or another country.

Duty of Care

Employers, as mentioned, have a duty of care towards their employees: they must prevent employees from suffering harm in the performance of their duties. This also extends to employees’ workplace, wherever that workplace may be. Hence, employers must ensure an ergonomic workplace. This can be done, for example, by providing the employee with an ergonomic office chair or desk. The costs incurred in providing a safe workplace shall be borne by the employer.

As part of the duty of care, it is recommended, among other things, to determine whether the workplace (not being in the office) is ergonomic. This can be done by an inspection by the employer or occupational health and safety expert, but it is more practical to check this by means of photo or film material – especially if the employee works in another country.

Non-compliance: sanction by labor inspection and liability

The labor inspectorate can check whether the employer has fulfilled its duty of care. If the labor inspection believes that the employer has not fulfilled its duty of care, the labor inspection can issue a warning or even impose a fine up to € 13,500,-. If the employer then still fails to fulfill its duty of care, the labor inspectorate can order that work is stopped for as long as the workplace is not set up correctly.

Employers can also be held liable by employees when they suffer damages because the workplace is not properly equipped. For example, the Amsterdam Court of Appeal held an employer liable for damages suffered by an employee due to RSI complaints because her home workplace was not adequately equipped.

In sum, employers have to consider many different aspects. If you have any questions about remote working and all the aspects involved, our lawyers will of course be happy to help you.

More about Palthe Oberman

All lawyers at our firm specialise in employment law. We have extensive experience in providing employment law advice and resolving employment conflicts.

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