New Ways of Working

Explore and keep track of key legal and compliance considerations for multinational employers as new ways of working become increasingly embedded as the pandemic begins to recede. Learn more about the response taken in specific countries or build your own report to compare approaches taken around the world.

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01. Has the government introduced any laws and/or issued guidelines around remote-working arrangements? If so, what categories of worker do the laws and/or guidelines apply to – do they extend to “gig” workers and other independent contractors?

01. Has the government introduced any laws and/or issued guidelines around remote-working arrangements? If so, what categories of worker do the laws and/or guidelines apply to – do they extend to “gig” workers and other independent contractors?

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Greece

  • at Kyriakides Georgopoulos Law Firm
  • at Kyriakides Georgopoulos Law Firm
  • at Kyriakides Georgopoulos Law Firm

Remote working in Greece may be agreed only with the employee’s written consent (ie, provided in the initial employment agreement or by the signing of an amendment to the employee’s employment agreement regarding the employee’s place of work). During the covid-19 pandemic, the law provided for the unilateral implementation of remote working by employers as an exceptional temporary measure to contain the spread of the virus. According to the relevant ministerial decisions issued at different times of the crisis, companies had to apply a remote working system for at least 50% or 60% (for companies engaged in the provisions of services) of employees whose work could be provided remotely (today the limit is 20%).

Please note that a new employment law was introduced in June 2021 in Greece (Law No 4808/2021), which also includes provisions regarding remote-working arrangements. Such law applies only to employees under a dependant employment relationship (ie, the law does not refer to gig workers or independent contractors).

Under the current legal framework, employers’ obligations continue even while their employees continue to work remotely. Such obligations include, among others, ensuring equal treatment of employees, providing equipment and covering the costs of damages that may occur, protecting employees’ health and safety, and monitoring of employees’ working hours and work behaviour daily.

Last updated on 21/09/2021

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Sweden

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  • at DLA Piper

The Swedish government has not introduced any statutory laws regarding remote working, only recommendations. Thus, it is generally the employer who decides if employees should work from home or at the office. Under the currently applicable recommendations from 23 December 2021, the Swedish Public Health Agency recommends that employers facilitate employees working from home.

Last updated on 24/01/2022

02. Outline the key data protection risks associated with remote working in your jurisdiction.

02. Outline the key data protection risks associated with remote working in your jurisdiction.

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Greece

  • at Kyriakides Georgopoulos Law Firm
  • at Kyriakides Georgopoulos Law Firm
  • at Kyriakides Georgopoulos Law Firm

Although necessitated by the circumstances, the transition of employees from corporate networks to largely unmonitored and vulnerable private networks outside the reach of perimeter-based security tools finds most employers unprepared and, thus, exposed to greater cyber threats and personal data breaches compared to on-site work. Employers are urged to take into consideration the increased risks a remote-working environment poses to their data, systems and networks and to invest heavily in IT security, while employees are encouraged to carefully follow all IT security guidelines, stay alert to security incidents and be vigilant with phishing attacks. Within this framework, the Hellenic Data Protection Authority (HDPA) issued “Guidelines for implementing safety measures in the context of teleworking” on 15 April 2020, including appropriate safety measures concerning network access, the use of e-mail or messaging applications, the use of terminal or storage media and how teleconferencing takes place to mitigate data protection risks associated with remote working.

On the other hand, many of these measures may result in more extensive collection and processing (recording, use, disclosure, etc) of employees’ personal data, including monitoring procedures. The key issue for most employers amid these circumstances is to find the right balance between protecting their IT systems and data, on the one hand, and safeguarding the data protection and privacy rights of their employees while working from home on the other.

Last updated on 21/09/2021

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Sweden

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Pursuant to the GDPR, personal data should, inter alia, be processed in a manner that ensures appropriate security and confidentiality for the processing of that data, including by preventing unauthorised access to or use of personal data. For natural reasons, there may be additional challenges associated with this obligation when employees are working remotely, including an increased risk of personal data breaches when employees are working from home. The Swedish Authority for Privacy Protection mentions in its Privacy Protection Report of 2020 the increase in employees working from home as a result of the covid-19 pandemic, and the increased use of cloud service providers. The Authority highlights that data in cloud services is often transferred to countries outside the EU/EEA, and especially to the US. As a result of the Schrems II ruling in 2020, the use of, eg, cloud service providers that transfer data to  such jurisdictions (eg, in connection with IT maintenance) is problematic and may need to be addressed in relation to remote working.   

In light of the above, it is important as an employer to consider what measures are necessary in terms of IT security when working from home (eg, instructions to employees).

Last updated on 21/09/2021

03. What are the limits on employer monitoring of worker activity in the context of a remote-working arrangement and what other factors should employers bear in mind when monitoring worker activity remotely?

03. What are the limits on employer monitoring of worker activity in the context of a remote-working arrangement and what other factors should employers bear in mind when monitoring worker activity remotely?

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Greece

  • at Kyriakides Georgopoulos Law Firm
  • at Kyriakides Georgopoulos Law Firm
  • at Kyriakides Georgopoulos Law Firm

Limits on employer monitoring of worker activity do not significantly change in the context of remote working, taking into account that corporate equipment and networks are mainly used, and corporate data is being processed by employees. However, even if personal equipment is being used by employees, the following considerations should be taken into account.

According to applicable privacy and data protection legislation, HDPA decisions and the approach adopted by the European Court of Human Rights in Barbulescu v Romania in 2017, an employer may lawfully access and process personal data (e-mails and other documents) stored in employees' computers in cases where this processing is necessary for the overriding legitimate interests pursued by the employer or by a third party (legal basis of article 6 (1)(f) GDPR). Such legitimate interest of the employer may comprise the need to ensure the smooth running of the business by establishing mechanisms for checking that its employees are performing their professional duties adequately and with the necessary diligence, as well as the need to protect its business and property from significant threats, such as hindering the leaking of confidential information to a competitor or providing evidence of employee's criminal activities. In the latter case, the employer should, however, ensure that it does not enter into the exercise of investigative actions which, by law, are executed exclusively by the competent judicial-prosecutorial authorities.

Particular emphasis should be paid to ensuring the necessity and proportionality of the planned measure and the employer should be able to demonstrate that no less onerous and invasive measures exist to achieve the goal. In this context,  excessive and constant monitoring of employees’ computers and communications cannot be justified. In addition, access should not extend to all communications and their content, but only to those necessary under the proportionality principle.

Employees have a legitimate expectation of privacy in the workplace, which is not altered by the fact that they use equipment, communication devices or any other professional facilities and infrastructure of the employer, even more so if they use their personal equipment. Even if employees have been explicitly informed beforehand of a relevant internal regulation that prohibits the personal use of company computers, this alone does not legally justify monitoring or control of the personal data processed by the employee;  a more specified notice is required. In particular, employers should inform employees beforehand in clear and plain language of the implementation of monitoring methods, and their purpose, extent, nature, circumstances, etc, as required under articles 13 and 14 of the GDPR. In addition, employees should be provided with internal regulations on the proper use of company resources.  which shall include Lastly, employees’ representatives should also be informed of and express their opinion before the establishment of any monitoring systems in the workplace.

Last updated on 21/09/2021

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Sweden

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From a privacy perspective, employers must consider the GDPR and other privacy-related legislation. The GDPR states, inter alia, that the processing of personal data must be adequate, relevant and limited to what is necessary concerning the purposes for which they are processed (ie, the data minimisation principle). This means that the employer’s monitoring of employees cannot be too intrusive – it must be proportionate for the purpose. Furthermore, employers must be able to demonstrate that the purpose of the processing cannot be fulfilled by other, less-intrusive, means. Employers must also adhere to other GDPR requirements, eg, providing employees with information about the data processing in advance. Further, employers must always act in accordance with good practices in the Swedish labour market.

When it comes to employees’ use of email and the internet, the Swedish Authority for Privacy Protection recommends that employers have guidelines for internet use and e-mail. The guidelines should clearly state what type of private use is permitted, and also when the employer may consider controlling employees’ internet or e-mail use. Depending on the situation, it may be lawful to carry out inspections of an employee’s online usage. If there is a concrete suspicion that an employee is acting in breach of his or her employment contract, it may be lawful to monitor that employee, subject to complying with the GDPR and other privacy legislation. Employees must be informed about inspections or monitoring that may take place.

In terms of time tracking, the Swedish Working Hours Act also applies to remote working, meaning that the same limits on overtime and provisions on minimum daily rest periods must be observed. In some circumstances, however, such as when the work is performed without employer supervision or control, the Working Hours Act may not apply. There are no general guidelines on when the exemption is applicable, but it should be applied restrictively and is rarely applicable in the case of remote working. Employers should therefore engage in dialogue with employees on their working time to ensure compliance with the Working Hours Act.

Last updated on 24/01/2022

04. Are employers required to provide work equipment (for example, computers and other digital devices) or to pay for or reimburse employees for costs associated with remote working (for example, internet and electricity costs)?

04. Are employers required to provide work equipment (for example, computers and other digital devices) or to pay for or reimburse employees for costs associated with remote working (for example, internet and electricity costs)?

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Greece

  • at Kyriakides Georgopoulos Law Firm
  • at Kyriakides Georgopoulos Law Firm
  • at Kyriakides Georgopoulos Law Firm

Employers are obliged to compensate the cost of remote working and provide technical support (ie, IT supports services, etc) to remote workers. In particular, employers must cover all costs associated with remote working, including:

•       the cost of equipment required for remote working (laptop, mouse, keyboard, printer if needed etc). Alternatively, it may be stipulated in the remote-working agreement that the employee will use their own equipment;

•       the cost of telecommunications (ie, use of internet connection, phone, etc);

•       the cost of maintaining such equipment;

•       the cost of restoring any damage caused to it (ie, either compensate the cost of fixing equipment used or replace the same. The employer’s obligation to cover such cost also remains in case the parties have agreed that employees will use their own equipment;  

•       The monthly cost of the employee using their home as a workplace.

 Please note here that the minimum amounts of the abovementioned costs to be compensated by the employer are expected to be regulated by a relevant Ministerial Decision, which has not been issued yet.

Last updated on 21/09/2021

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Sweden

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There is no legal obligation per se to provide work equipment; however, employers are responsible for the overall work environment, irrespective of whether the work is performed at the office or remotely from the employee’s home. This means that the employer must assess the employee’s homeworking environment to identify any health and safety risks. This also includes a responsibility for the psychosocial environment. If such an assessment was to show that, for example, the lighting or the seating arrangements for an employee would pose a risk for ill-health, the employer would be required to take measures to prevent this risk. Such measures could include offering employees work equipment such as a lamp or office chair. However, the need should be assessed on a case-by-case basis.

When it comes to computers and other tools necessary to perform the work, it is common for employers to provide this to employees.

In terms of reimbursing costs such as internet when working from home, there are no legal requirements and it is therefore subject to agreement with the employee. However, it is not uncommon that the employer pays part of the internet fee for employees that are permanently home-based, but it is not required.

Last updated on 24/01/2022

05. What potential issues and risks arise for employers in the context of cross-border remote-working arrangements?

05. What potential issues and risks arise for employers in the context of cross-border remote-working arrangements?

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Greece

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  • at Kyriakides Georgopoulos Law Firm
  • at Kyriakides Georgopoulos Law Firm

From a Greek employment law perspective, if employees are permanently working remotely in Greece, the application of certain provisions of Greek labour legislation that constitute mandatory law (ie, the payment of severance in case of termination, overtime payment, annual leave entitlements etc) may apply, if more favourable for the employee.

From a Greek social security law perspective, in general, employees will be insured and therefore pay social security contributions to the Social Security Fund of the country where they provide their work. However, there is no specific legal provision regarding payment of social security contributions for remote working (ie, in cases where an employee is working physically from a country where the company has no legal entity). According to the guidelines of the Ministry of Labour, in case of such remote-working arrangements, an employee would be insured and therefore pay social security contributions to the Social Security Fund of the country where the company has its legal entity and from which the employee is paid through its payroll system.

From a Greek tax law perspective, as well as under the double-tax treaties signed by Greece, if an individual is in a dependent employment relationship with a non-Greek employer and provides his or her services remotely from Greece permanently (ie, for more than six months) while using as a fixed place his or her home, there might be a permanent establishment (PE) risk in Greece for the non-Greek employer, to the extent the services rendered from Greece constitute the core business of the foreign company and are not limited to auxiliary or preparatory activities.

Also, if a non-Greek company signs an independent services agreement with an individual (contractor) and the contractor is authorised to conclude binding contracts on behalf of the non-Greek employer in Greece with Greek clients, a dependent agent PE risk for the non-Greek company may also arise.

Furthermore, irrespective of the  PE risk, based on domestic law if an individual provides employment services from Greece (to a Greek or non-Greek employer), his or her employment income is considered Greek sourced. Thus, it should trigger local tax reporting and tax compliance liabilities for the non-Greek employer, who should be registered with the Greek tax authorities to withhold  Greek personal income tax and special solidarity contribution (if any) corresponding to the employment income of the employee every month. It is noted that such a tax registration, reporting, or compliance liability does not apply for the non-Greek company in case of an independent services agreement with a contractor.

Lastly, from the individual’s point of view, if he or she works from Greece for more than 183 days per year, it might create a tax residence issue under the domestic tax rules, in which case he or she should be subject to regular Greek taxation and should be taxed in Greece for his or her worldwide income according to the relevant domestic income tax rules.

Last updated on 21/09/2021

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Sweden

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Labour law

Pursuant to the Rome I regulation, the employment relationship will, as a main rule, be governed by the law of the country in which the employee habitually carries out his or her work. If the employee does not habitually carry out the work in one country, the contract is governed by the law of the country of the place of business of the employer. However, if it appears from the circumstances as a whole that the work is more closely connected with another country, the law of that other country shall apply. Notwithstanding the above, it is possible for the employer and employee to agree on which country’s legislation should apply, provided another law does not deprive the employee of the protections that would have been guaranteed by statutory law under the applicable legislation, as per the Rome 1 regulation.

In light of this, cross-border remote-working arrangements may open up questions on applicable legislation. It is advisable to check if there are any such issues before allowing such arrangements. In addition, there may also be tax consequences for both the employer and employee. Furthermore,  a cross-border remote-working arrangement might also mean risk from an insurance perspective. Therefore, employers should ensure their insurance covers employees working remotely from another country.

Social security and tax law

Employers who have employees working remotely from another country should be cautious about the tax effects such an arrangement may trigger. An employee working remotely (eg, from home) in Sweden may trigger a taxable permanent establishment in Sweden, which has the effect that a part of the company’s income would have to be taxed in Sweden. If a permanent establishment is triggered, the company would have to register with the Swedish Tax Agency for corporate income tax purposes. It should also be noted that the Tax Agency can look back up to six calendar years for a reassessment of a permanent establishment. It is thereby possible for a foreign company to carry out activities in Sweden for a long time without being taxed in Sweden and having a full reassessment decision from the Tax Agency for previous years.

Furthermore, the company may also have to register for payroll purposes in Sweden, if the employee’s income would be subject to Swedish income tax and Swedish social security contributions. Income tax and social security contributions are to be reported and paid monthly. However, if the employer does not have a permanent establishment in Sweden, and provided that certain criteria are met, the employee may self-report and pay the social security contributions (but not the tax). Even if such an arrangement can be applied, the employer must still register with the Swedish Tax Agency for filing a statement of earnings and tax deductions and to report and pay income tax on the salary paid to the employee.

If a Swedish company has employees working remotely in another country, the employer may become liable to pay income social security fees and taxes abroad on any income that would be attributable to the work undertaken in that country, and may also have to comply with the registration and reporting requirements of that country.

In international cross-border working situations, taxation is not only regulated under domestic law but also double taxation treaties. As these rules reflect the special situation between two states and are the result of negotiations between them, it follows that these rules vary from one double taxation treaty to another. Regarding social security, domestic law, EU community regulations and international social security conventions must be taken into account when assessing which country the employee belongs to and what social security contributions are to be paid in that country. Normally, an A1 certificate would have to be obtained for social security purposes; such certificate states which country’s social security insurance system that the employee belongs to.

It is recommended to seek guidance from an independent tax counsel regarding international cross-border work situations to assess the tax consequences in each case.

Last updated on 24/01/2022

06. Do employers have any scope to reduce the salaries and/or benefits of employees who work remotely?

06. Do employers have any scope to reduce the salaries and/or benefits of employees who work remotely?

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Greece

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  • at Kyriakides Georgopoulos Law Firm
  • at Kyriakides Georgopoulos Law Firm

Equal treatment between employees working remotely and those working at the company’s premises are guaranteed. Any reduction of salaries may be implemented only following the employee consent (ie, by signing an amendment of the employment agreement).

Last updated on 21/09/2021

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Sweden

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The employer is not entitled to unilaterally reduce the employee’s salary or other employment benefits unless provided for in the individual employment agreement or a collective bargaining agreement. Hence, such a measure would require an agreement between the employer and the employee. If the employer implements unilateral salary deductions, the employer may be held liable to pay damages for a breach of contract. Moreover, there is a risk that the employee can claim that the deductions imply an unlawful termination of employment, which could make the employer liable to pay both compensation for losses sustained (capped at 32 months’ salary) as well as general damages.

Last updated on 24/01/2022

08. Can employers require or mandate that their workers receive a covid-19 vaccination? If so, what options does an employer have in the event an employee refuses to receive a covid-19 vaccination?

08. Can employers require or mandate that their workers receive a covid-19 vaccination? If so, what options does an employer have in the event an employee refuses to receive a covid-19 vaccination?

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Greece

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  • at Kyriakides Georgopoulos Law Firm
  • at Kyriakides Georgopoulos Law Firm

Covid-19 vaccination is not mandatory. However, based on a newly introduced law,  vaccination is mandatory for employees working at nursing homes and for medical staff (doctors, nurses etc) and employees working at hospitals.

Last updated on 21/09/2021

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Sweden

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There are no statutory regulations regarding vaccination requirements in Sweden. However, an employer cannot compel an employee to get vaccinated, and as a main rule, a refusal by an employee to get vaccinated does not constitute a basis for termination of employment. A requirement by an employer for employees to get vaccinated has not been tried legally, but the possibility to demand an employee to get vaccinated is likely very limited. That being said, pursuant to the Work Environment Act, employers must take all necessary measures to avoid risks of injury or ill-health at work. If no other measures than the vaccine are available to ensure a safe environment (eg, other protective measures such as social distancing, wearing face masks or cleaning are deemed inadequate), and if the business cannot eliminate the risk of infection through other protective measures such as working from home, it may be justified to require employees are vaccinated to work from the office. A refusal to get vaccinated by the employee may in such a case have consequences for their employment; for example, the employer may be entitled to move the employee to another position. Such measures shall only be taken if there are special reasons for doing so, based on the needs of the business. The nature of the business will be of importance when making such a legal assessment; for example, if the nature of the work performed justifies such a requirement (health workers in certain medical fields). The legal assessment must thus be made based on the circumstances in each case.

It is important to note that a refusal does not automatically mean that the employer may terminate the employee. The employer must observe the formal rules in the Swedish Employment Protection Act and ensure that there is “just cause” for termination. This would, inter alia, include an obligation to review and offer the individual any free positions within the company the employee is qualified for (and for which the employee doesn’t need to be vaccinated for work environment reasons) before termination of employment can come into question and the threshold for just cause for termination may be reached. 

Last updated on 24/01/2021

09. What are the risks to an employer making entry to the workplace conditional on an individual worker having received a covid-19 vaccination?

09. What are the risks to an employer making entry to the workplace conditional on an individual worker having received a covid-19 vaccination?

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Greece

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  • at Kyriakides Georgopoulos Law Firm
  • at Kyriakides Georgopoulos Law Firm

See question 7 regarding vaccination and entering the workplace.

Given that covid-19 vaccination is not mandatory (with some exceptions for employees working in nursing homes, hospitals etc), making entry subject to having received a covid-19 vaccination is not lawful and gives employees grounds to raise a discriminatory claim against their employer.

Last updated on 21/09/2021

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Sweden

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Requiring employees to be vaccinated in the office may render discrimination claims from employees unable or unwilling to take the vaccine due to characteristics protected in the Swedish Discrimination Act. As mentioned above, an employer cannot compel an employee to get vaccinated. However, the employer must take all necessary measures to avoid risks of injury or ill health at work according to the Work Environment Act. If no other measures than a vaccine are available to ensure a safe environment (where other protective measures such as face masks, safe distancing or similar are deemed inadequate), it could be argued that it is justifiable to ask employees to be vaccinated to work from the office or continue homeworking until the rate of infection has gone down, if this is necessary and proportionate to ensure a safe working environment.

Last updated on 21/09/2021

10. Are there some workplaces or specific industries or sectors in which the government has required that employers make access to the workplace conditional on individuals having received a Covid-19 vaccination?

10. Are there some workplaces or specific industries or sectors in which the government has required that employers make access to the workplace conditional on individuals having received a Covid-19 vaccination?

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Greece

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  • at Kyriakides Georgopoulos Law Firm
  • at Kyriakides Georgopoulos Law Firm

Vaccination is mandatory for specific categories of employees (see above) as well as all employees working at public and private hospitals. Employees of the health and care sector cannot duly provide their services if they are not vaccinated and their employer is released from their obligation to pay salaries.

Last updated on 21/09/2021

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Sweden

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There are no such requirements for any sector. There are currently no recommendations from relevant Swedish authorities that employers should treat unvaccinated employees differently to vaccinated employees.

Last updated on 21/09/2021

11. What are the key privacy considerations employers face in relation to ascertaining and processing employee medical and vaccination information?

11. What are the key privacy considerations employers face in relation to ascertaining and processing employee medical and vaccination information?

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Greece

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  • at Kyriakides Georgopoulos Law Firm
  • at Kyriakides Georgopoulos Law Firm

Medical and vaccination information falls within a special category of data (ie, data concerning health) according to article 9 of the GDPR. Against this background, it can be only processed in exceptional circumstances by relying on one of the following potential legal bases:

(i) it is provided for in a specific legal provision as a respective obligation either for employers of a specific sector or for all employers (article 9(2)(b) of the GDPR); 

(ii) it is deemed necessary so that the employer meets their obligation to protect employees’ health and safety in the workplace, under the provisions of article 9(2)(b) of the GDPR and Greek Law 3850/2010; or

(iii) the employee voluntarily discloses vaccination-related information to the employer, so that transmission of data falls within the scope of article 9(2)(a) of the GDPR.

Moreover, employers must comply with fundamental data-processing principles (article 5 of the GDPR) and any other obligation provided for under the GDPR when processing special categories of personal data as data controllers. In particular, data minimisation and storage limitation principles must be observed by employers. In addition, employees have to be previously informed according to article 13 of the GDPR of the processing of their personal data and appropriate technical and organisational measures must be implemented according to article 32 of the GDPR (eg, restricted access to data, confidentiality etc).

Last updated on 21/09/2021

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Sweden

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Medical and vaccination information relating to an individual constitute health data, which is considered a special category of personal data under article 9 of the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR). The main rule is that the processing of such data is prohibited, unless there is an applicable exemption to process the data (for example, that processing is necessary for the employer to fulfil their obligations and exercise their special rights within labour law and in the areas of social security and social protection). From a general employment law perspective, however, it does not appear necessary for the employer to register or draw up lists of employees’ immunity in any way to fulfil an obligation or right within labour law and in the areas of social security and social protection.

Article 9.2 (i) GDPR offers another exemption to the general prohibition to process special category data: it may be lawful if the processing is necessary for reasons of public interest in the area of public health, such as protecting against serious cross-border threats to health or ensuring high standards of quality and safety of health care and medicinal products or medical devices. However, such processing must be based on EU or member state law, which normally does not apply for “ordinary” businesses.

To summarise, the opportunity for employers to lawfully process employee medical data and data on vaccination under the GDPR is very limited.

Last updated on 24/01/2022

12. What are the key health and safety considerations for employers in respect of remote workers?

12. What are the key health and safety considerations for employers in respect of remote workers?

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Greece

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  • at Kyriakides Georgopoulos Law Firm
  • at Kyriakides Georgopoulos Law Firm

Key considerations include health and safety issues, both in terms of mental health due to employees’ isolation from their colleagues, and in terms of safety because when working from home it is difficult to identify what constitutes and what does not constitute a work accident.

In general, employers are liable towards employees for health and safety issues even during the remote-working arrangement; the employer is obliged to inform remote workers regarding company policies on health and safety matters including information about organisational and technical issues, equipment usage guidelines and inform them of the procedure to be followed if there is an accident during working hours, their right to take adequate breaks and their right to disconnect.

A new ministerial decision that will further specify such health and safety rules as well as the procedure that the Labour Inspectorate will follow to check compliance with health and safety measures is expected soon.

Last updated on 21/09/2021

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Sweden

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Under Swedish law, employers have overall responsibility for the employee’s work environment and must take all necessary measures to prevent employees from being exposed to risks of injury or ill-health. This responsibility lies with the employer irrespective of whether the work is performed at the office or remotely. Employees, however, also have an obligation to participate in work environment management and should participate in the implementation of any measures necessary to achieve a good working environment, as well as draw attention to potential safety risks. A close dialogue between the employer and employees is important, and often even more so where the work is carried out remotely.

The employer’s management of the working environment should be conducted systematically, ensuring that it fulfils applicable rules and regulations for a good work environment. This systematic management should include risk assessments of the business, active measures, and follow-ups in respect of the work environment. Furthermore, employers must, as a main rule, implement adequate action plans and policies to ensure a safe working environment. In companies with many remote workers, it is generally a good idea to set up clear guidelines for remote-working routines (eg, regarding support, communication and physical equipment).

Last updated on 24/01/2022

13. How has the pandemic impacted employers’ obligations vis-à-vis worker health and safety beyond the physical workplace?

13. How has the pandemic impacted employers’ obligations vis-à-vis worker health and safety beyond the physical workplace?

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Greece

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  • at Kyriakides Georgopoulos Law Firm
  • at Kyriakides Georgopoulos Law Firm

Based on the provisions of the new law, employers must introduce a health and safety-related company policy or individually notify each employee regarding the company’s applicable health and safety measures.

Last updated on 21/09/2021

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Sweden

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Employers’ legal responsibility for their work environment, as such, has not been impacted by the pandemic. However, in practice, employers have been forced to quickly adapt to the new situation and face new challenges due to the pandemic. As many employers have not had any routines regarding the work environment beyond the physical workplace, it has been important to assess what risks there are concerning employees physical and mental health and how they can be minimised.

Last updated on 24/01/2022

14. Do employer health and safety obligations differ between mobile workers and workers based primarily at home?

14. Do employer health and safety obligations differ between mobile workers and workers based primarily at home?

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Greece

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  • at Kyriakides Georgopoulos Law Firm
  • at Kyriakides Georgopoulos Law Firm

No, as the current legal framework distinguishes between: (a) employees working at the company’s premises or any other designated by the company as a place of work (ie, another company, client, field etc); and (b) employees providing their services remotely. In both cases, the employers must ensure employees’ health and safety.

Last updated on 21/09/2021

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Sweden

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An employer’s legal responsibility is the same irrespective of whether the work is to be performed primarily from home or remotely. However, an employer’s ability to control and assess an employee’s working situation is naturally more limited for remote workers and places great demands on the employer’s systematic management of the work environment. Risk assessments must be conducted regularly and the employer must foresee what risks can arise in different situations. Furthermore, the dialogue between an employer and employee is important so that the employer is informed of any issues regarding the work environment.  

Last updated on 24/01/2022

15. To what extent are employers responsible for the mental health and wellbeing of workers who are working remotely?

15. To what extent are employers responsible for the mental health and wellbeing of workers who are working remotely?

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Greece

  • at Kyriakides Georgopoulos Law Firm
  • at Kyriakides Georgopoulos Law Firm
  • at Kyriakides Georgopoulos Law Firm

The new law s4808/2021 stresses employers’ obligation to protect the mental health of remote workers. To that end, certain provisions have been enacted to encourage a good work-life balance, including the right to disconnect and the prohibition of any retaliation measures or discriminatory behaviour against employees exercising their right to disconnect.

Employers must also prevent the isolation of employees working from home and allow them to meet with their colleagues regularly, by organising meetings so they have access to all information concerning the company.

Also, employees working from home have the same collective rights as employees working at a company's premises. Communication with employee’s representatives should not be prevented.

Last updated on 21/09/2021

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Sweden

  • at DLA Piper
  • at DLA Piper
  • at DLA Piper

An employer’s systematic management shall include both psychological and social circumstances that have an impact on the work environment. This also means a general obligation to regularly assess working conditions and to be attentive to employees’ wellbeing. Managers and workers with supervisory functions shall be aware, in the day-to-day business, of warning signals indicating mental health issues, such as increased absences from work, silence and fatigue at work or high activity on email or the telephone outside working hours.

Last updated on 24/01/2022

17. To what extent have employers been able to make changes to their organisations during the pandemic, including by making redundancies and/or reducing wages and employee benefits?

17. To what extent have employers been able to make changes to their organisations during the pandemic, including by making redundancies and/or reducing wages and employee benefits?

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Greece

  • at Kyriakides Georgopoulos Law Firm
  • at Kyriakides Georgopoulos Law Firm
  • at Kyriakides Georgopoulos Law Firm

Companies that made use of the government’s state aid measures could not proceed with redundancies or salary reductions for as long as the measures were applied. Companies that did not make use of said measures were able to proceed with redundancies or agree on salary reductions with their employees.

Last updated on 21/09/2021

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Sweden

  • at DLA Piper
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  • at DLA Piper

In April 2020, new legislation enabled employers affected by temporary and serious financial difficulties that could not reasonably have been foreseen or avoided (eg, due to the coronavirus situation) to reduce their employees' working hours and receive financial support from the Swedish government. The government covered three-quarters of the cost for the reduced working hours and the employer and employee shared the cost of the remaining quarter. For employers to receive support, the employer must have made use of other available measures for reducing labour costs, such as terminations of personnel not permanently employed and not regarded as being critical to business operations. The  possibility of receiving financial support under this legislation ceased to exist in September 2021.

New legislation on financial support has been proposed to apply from December 2021 to March 2022 for employers that have lost at least 30% in revenue. Affected employers will be able to receive support of 70% or 90 % (depending on the size of the company) of their fixed costs, such as salaries and rent, that they are unable to cover.  

The rules for termination of employment are the same regardless of the covid-19 situation. To terminate an “employment until further notice” under Swedish law, "just cause" is required. Just cause can either be related to personal reasons (eg, poor performance and misconduct) or redundancy. It is significantly more difficult to terminate an employee due to personal reasons (reasons relating to the individual employee) than due to redundancy. In general, termination due to personal reasons is considered a last resort by the courts. Redundancy on the other hand is deemed, as a main rule, to constitute just cause for termination of employment and there is no general obligation under the Employment Protection Act (EPA) to justify the redundancy (eg, with financial information or similar). The employer, however, must observe material and formal rules laid down by the EPA concerning redundancy terminations (as well as termination due to personal reasons).

Last updated on 24/01/2022

18. What actions, if any, have unions or other worker associations taken to protect the entitlements and rights of remote workers?

18. What actions, if any, have unions or other worker associations taken to protect the entitlements and rights of remote workers?

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Greece

  • at Kyriakides Georgopoulos Law Firm
  • at Kyriakides Georgopoulos Law Firm
  • at Kyriakides Georgopoulos Law Firm

Following the introduction of the new law 4808/2021 regarding remote working, the role of trade unions will increase as they will seek to remain actively involved in certain processes related to remote working.

The main concerns of the General Worker’s Confederation, as recently notified to the government and  employers' organizations are:

•             the introduction of teleworking through collective-bargaining agreements;

•             the voluntary nature of teleworking and the minimum standards to be complied with;

•             the safeguarding of remote workers’ rights and their communication with employee representatives; and

•             the coverage of all costs related to working from home and all additional costs resulting from the use of employees’ homes as their offices.

We believe that there will be new collective labour agreements regulating working from home and flexible working arrangements in the future.

Last updated on 21/09/2021

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Sweden

  • at DLA Piper
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  • at DLA Piper

In Sweden, the same rules and regulations regarding employment protection also apply to remote workers. Therefore, few measures have been taken by unions or worker associations in this regard. However, worker associations and unions have actively encouraged employers to allow remote working to protect workers from covid-19 and create a safer working environment.

Last updated on 21/09/2021

19. Are employers required to consult with, or otherwise involve, the relevant union when introducing a remote-working arrangement? If so, how much influence does the union and/or works council have to alter the working arrangement (for example, to ensure workers’ health and safety is protected during any period of remote work)?

19. Are employers required to consult with, or otherwise involve, the relevant union when introducing a remote-working arrangement? If so, how much influence does the union and/or works council have to alter the working arrangement (for example, to ensure workers’ health and safety is protected during any period of remote work)?

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Greece

  • at Kyriakides Georgopoulos Law Firm
  • at Kyriakides Georgopoulos Law Firm
  • at Kyriakides Georgopoulos Law Firm

Remote working is agreed with each employee through the signing of a written agreement that should include all elements of the remote arrangement (ie,  equipment, costs to be covered by the employer, the employee’s right to disconnect, health and safety measures during the remote-working arrangement etc).

However, according to the new law, 4808/2021 the technical and organisational measures required for the implementation of the employees’ right to disconnect must be agreed upon between the employer and the employee’s representatives. If no agreement is reached, the aforementioned measures must be communicated to the employee in writing.

Last updated on 21/09/2021

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Sweden

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If an employer is bound by a collective bargaining agreement, the employer, as a main rule, should request and conclude trade union negotiations before implementing an obligation to work remotely. Trade union representatives can present their views on this arrangement in the negotiation. However, a trade union cannot alter or veto the employer's homeworking arrangements (assuming that the collective bargaining agreement does not prohibit remote working). That being said, a trade union may take action if there are deficiencies in the working environment for employees working from home.

If the home-working arrangement is voluntary for employees, there is generally no obligation to perform trade union negotiations. The trade union, however, has a right to be informed about any changes relevant for employees under section 19 of the Swedish Co-Determination (in the workplace) Act.

If there is no collective bargaining agreement in place for the employer, there is no obligation to request trade union negotiations. Depending on the individual circumstances (eg, if it is a permanent solution and if the employment agreement allows for such a change of workplace) an agreement with the individual employee may be required for the employer to impose an obligation to work remotely on employees.

Last updated on 21/09/2021