From the beginning of the pandemic, working from home has been an important measure against the spread of the coronavirus. Only employees who are essential to a business process and cannot perform their work from home are allowed to come to work.
The government, in cooperation with social partners, has published a guide with general criteria for working from home. These general criteria provide guidance for employers and employees when considering whether someone should work from home or on location.
When considering whether an employee should work from home or on location, the government’s advice remains: ‘Work from home, unless there is no other way’. However, not everyone can work (completely) at home due to, for example, the nature of the work or personal circumstances.
The general criteria in the government’s guide help to determine whether someone should work from home or on location and should remove any uncertainty about that choice. The guide is divided into several criteria, from both an employer’s and employee’s perspective, to determine whether or not an employee can work from home. The following criteria allow work to be done (partly) on location:
- The work requires the physical presence of the employee and that presence is strictly necessary for a business process or for pressing social reasons (such as assistance);
- The work requires (partly) location-specific software or hardware;
- The work requires (partly) the use of confidential information that can only be viewed on location;
- The employee experiences mental symptoms to the extent that performing the work on location is necessary for the mental health of the employee;
- The employee’s physical work situation at home is not adequate and cannot be made adequate, making the performance of the work on location necessary for the employee’s health and well-being.
Not a good reason
In addition, the guide gives examples of arguments, both for the employer and employee, that are usually not seen as a “good reason” to work on location or at home. For example, the fact that the employer wants to have insight into whether the employee is performing his work properly is not a good reason for having the employee work on location. The guide provides a number of alternatives for these situations.
Include measures in the RI&E
If working on location is necessary, the workplace must be in line with the regular Dutch health and safety obligations and with the RIVM guidelines (coronaproof). For this, the General Guidance COVID-19 can be used.
It is important that the Risk Inventory and Evaluation (RI&E) is adjusted to the risks of the coronavirus and the measures to prevent infection in the workplace. This also includes the measures for employees who work from home.
Report to the government
If, after mutual consultation between the employer and employee, unsafe work situations (continue to) exist that are not in line with the corona measures, it is possible to report this to the government (Inspectie Sociale Zaken en Werkgelegenheid). In principle, not working from home is not an offence. The government can, however, enforce the law if the workplace does not comply with the corona measures.
Do you have any questions about your home working policy or about including the corona measures in the RI&E? Please contact one of our lawyers.
View the full government handbook here.