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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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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Argentina

  • at MBB Balado Bevilacqua
  • at MBB Balado Bevilacqua
  • at MBB Balado Bevilacqua

Employers’ health and safety obligation are the same in all cases. The difference is that, for employees under the home office framework, employers may disclose to the ART the employees’ information (name, address, identification code and working time), and the other aspects mentioned in question 12. If there an inspection of an employee’ home to assess the level of safety, union participation is required.

Last updated on 21/09/2021

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Australia

  • at People + Culture Strategies

An employer’s duty of care for the health and safety of workers at the workplace will not differ between any category of worker, be they based primarily at the employer’s work premises, at home or anywhere else the worker performs work. In other words, every employer has a basic obligation to ensure the safety of the workplace, and this is not limited to the employer’s office or other employer-controlled premises.

However, the particular environment where work is performed will be relevant to how an employer goes about meeting their obligations in respect of that worker.

Last updated on 21/09/2021

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Austria

  • at Littler
  • at Littler
  • at Littler

No. Regarding employers’ obligations on health and safety measures, the same rules apply to mobile workers and workers based primarily at home.

Last updated on 21/09/2021

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Belgium

  • at Van Olmen & Wynant

Mobile workers do not fall within the scope of CBA No. 149. Therefore, the obligations mentioned in Q13 do not apply to them.

The generic guide on the prevention of the spread of covid-19 provides specific guidelines for employers regarding workers who work at another location, for example, with other employers or private individuals. Employers should check beforehand what safety measures apply to the place where the work will be performed. This information should be shared with employees together with the necessary instructions. Please note the generic guide is merely an instrument of the government to provide guidelines and has limited legal value.

Last updated on 21/09/2021

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Brazil

  • at Pinheiro Neto
  • at Pinheiro Neto Advogados

Employers’ obligations regarding health and safety are generally the same either in a proximate or remote-working environment. The main change is employers’ control of and management over employees’ remote-working setting and their actual ability to prevent work-related diseases and accidents from happening. As opposed to a physical workplace, where employers are directly liable for ensuring a safe environment, in a remote-working arrangement employers are limited to providing general guidelines and training on health and safety and implementing policies and procedures to avoid occupational diseases and accidents. Normally, employers would require employees’ confirmation that their workspace complies with all statutory requirements – photos and videos of their workspace may be required.

Last updated on 21/09/2021

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France

  • at Proskauer Rose
  • at Proskauer Rose
  • at Proskauer Rose

No, the legal and conventional provisions on health and safety at work apply to both mobile workers and workers based primarily at home. It must be taken into account that the employer cannot have complete control over the place where teleworking is carried out and the environment, which is part of the private sphere. This implies an occupational risk assessment adapted to the case of mobile workers and the case of workers based primarily at home.

Last updated on 21/09/2021

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Germany

  • at CMS Hasche Sigle

In principle, employers are required to carry out an analysis of the physical and mental hazards for mobile workers as well as for workers who are deployed in a home office. Of course, the specifics of the covid-19 pandemic must be taken into account. However, if an employer sets up a permanent work station in the employee's home or a co-working space, German law specifies these duties in the Workplace Ordinance. This includes not only a risk assessment and subsequent instruction for the employee so that the health hazards of working from home are avoided. The employer is also required to ensure compliance with the EU regulations of the Display Screen Equipment Ordinance. This contains technical specifications on the equipment of the workplace as well as regulations on how the work itself must be organised (eg, breaks with mixed activities).

Last updated on 21/09/2021

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Greece

  • at Kyriakides Georgopoulos Law Firm
  • 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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Hong Kong

  • at Lewis Silkin
  • at Lewis Silkin
  • at Lewis Silkin

The Occupational Safety and Health Ordinance (OSHO) covers all employees in their workplace, which may include an employee working from home, especially if their contract specifies this as their workplace. If an employee’s place of work is specified as “mobile” or “in the field”, then this may also be deemed the employee’s workplace under OSHO. As such, we do not believe there would be any differentiation between the obligations an employer has towards a mobile worker versus a home worker under OSHO. The same is true under common law.  Where there may be a difference is in relation to employee compensation insurance, as the insurer may potentially be open to insuring a home worker but not a mobile worker, but this would be subject to negotiation with the particular insurance provider.

Last updated on 11/10/2021

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India

  • at Nishith Desai
  • at Nishith Desai

No, currently applicable Indian laws do not distinguish between home-based workers and mobile workers. There is a concept of ‘out workers’ under the CLRA in terms of the application of provisions thereof, which does not specifically distinguish between remote workers and home-based workers.

Last updated on 18/11/2021

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Ireland

Ireland

  • at Littler

No, except for particular categories of mobile workers (for example long-distance drivers) who have the benefit of specific protections when it comes to working hours and rest breaks.

Last updated on 21/09/2021

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Italy

  • at Toffoletto De Luca Tamajo

The two different ways of working outside the company premises: Teleworking (“Telelavoro”) and Smart Working (“Lavoro Agile”) impose different obligations on employers.

As said, employees working remotely under a Smart Working arrangement (not having a predetermined fixed place) must be clearly informed of the specific risks of performing his/her work activity in this way.

Conversely, in the case of Teleworking, employers - in addition to guaranteeing that the work activity is carried out in full compliance with health and safety rules and providing employees with specific information on safety matters – are also allowed to access/inspect the places in which teleworking is carried out by employees in order to verify the correct application of health and safety rules and polices. Consequently, this triggers a great responsibility for employers, also with regard to the overall safety of the employee’s home (e.g. including the electrical system). Moreover, employers must ensure the adoption of measures preventing the isolation of the teleworker from other company employees, such as opportunities to meet regularly with colleagues and to access company information.

©Toffoletto De Luca Tamajo, ©Ius Laboris

Last updated on 21/09/2021

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Mexico

  • at Marván, González Graf y González Larrazolo
  • at Marván, González Graf y González Larrazolo
  • at Marván, González Graf y González Larrazolo

Regarding health and safety obligations, no distinction exists to date between mobile workers and workers based primarily at home.

Last updated on 21/09/2021

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Netherlands

  • at Rutgers & Posch
  • at Rutgers & Posch

In principle, the relevant health and safety obligations apply to “location-independent work”, which includes both mobile working and working from home. However, there are some exceptions made in terms of mobile workers. For example, artificial lighting requirements and requirements on supplying approved chairs and tables do not apply, as an employer is not responsible for furnishing such a workplace. There are ongoing discussions between legal experts on whether more distinction should be made between working from home and other forms of remote working in terms of the working conditions and what should be expected from employers (and employees).

Last updated on 08/03/2022

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Poland

  • at Bird & Bird
  • at Bird & Bird

No, there is no differentiation in this regard. Please see question 12.

Last updated on 21/03/2022

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Portugal

  • at Cuatrecasas
  • at Cuatrecasas

As far as Portuguese labour law applies to employment relations, health and safety obligations on employers are the same for employees working on-site, from home, remotely, or “mobile” employees, with the latter understood to be employees working in more than one place or travelling frequently as part of their job.

What differs is the evaluation of health and safety risks according to the specific circumstances of each employee (ie, even though the employers’ obligations are the same irrespective of the type of employee, the assessment and specific measures to be applied to ensure compliance will vary in accordance with the way each job is performed).

Last updated on 21/09/2021

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Qatar

  • at Clyde & Co
  • at Clyde & Co

There is no distinction in the Qatar Labour Law. Refer to answer to question 12.

Last updated on 08/11/2021

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Saudi Arabia

  • at Clyde & Co
  • at Clyde & Co

There is no distinction in the KSA Labour Law. Please see question 12.

Last updated on 29/11/2021

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Spain

  • at Cuatrecasas
  • at Cuatrecasas

Yes. Firstly, mobile workers do not necessarily fall within the remote-work regulations.

Under Spanish law, remote workers are those who regularly provide their services from home or from wherever they freely decide, as long as that involves at least 30% of their working hours within a three-month period.

On the other hand, mobile workers are those who regularly provide their services from different places, depending on the company’s clients or needs.

Since remote workers mostly work from home, employers’ health and safety obligations should focus on their workspace.

For mobile workers, however, employers’ health and safety obligations should focus on additional circumstances, such as driving or using a mobile phone while working.

Therefore, there is a difference considering the way they provide their services.

Last updated on 21/09/2021

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Sweden

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

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

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Switzerland

  • at Lenz & Staehelin

In contrast to other legal systems, Swiss legislation does not recognise the concept of "mobile workers". Therefore, mobile workers are considered to be employees without a fixed place of work (ie, those who work in several different locations or who travel in the course of their work). "Workers based primarily at home" are employees who do not necessarily have a workplace provided by their employers, but who are mainly in one place, (ie, their home).

Swiss law does not contain different regulations for these two categories of workers.

However, in practice, employers' recommendations will differ based on the worker's situation.  It can be assumed that when employees do not have a fixed place of work, employers will have to take this into account more in their recommendations, since the employee has fewer possibilities for an "appropriate" workstation. Also, employers will have to be more attentive to the working hours of a "mobile worker". 

Last updated on 30/09/2021

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Turkey

  • at Gün + Partners
  • at Gün + Partners
  • at Gün + Partners

Turkish law does not differentiate between remote workers being mobile or primarily at home. As remote working is legally defined as performing at home or outside the workplace through technological communication devices under an employer’s direction, there are no particular rules applicable to mobile workers or workers based primarily based at home. Both categories may be considered as remote workers.

Last updated on 21/09/2021

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UAE

  • at Clyde & Co
  • at Clyde & Co

There is no distinction in the UAE Labour Law. Refer to question 12.

Last updated on 08/11/2021

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United Kingdom

  • at Littler

Not generally, except for:

  • different types of mobile workers (as opposed to home workers) may have specific needs or use different equipment, either temporarily or on an ongoing basis (in which case, the overarching health & safety principles remain the same but the application may differ); and
  • particular categories of mobile workers (for example, long-distance drivers) who may have the benefit of specific protections when it comes to working hours and rest breaks.
Last updated on 13/01/2022

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United States

  • at Littler
  • at Littler
  • at Littler

Yes.  Employees who as part of their job travel, visit customers and clients, and go from place to place, may be exposed to health and safety conditions that are beyond their employer’s control.  Nevertheless, employers need to take reasonable steps to keep their employees safe, even when they are outside the brick-and-mortar workplace.  The employer’s obligations to ensure their workers’ safety follows them as they travel for work, and, to the extent feasible, employers need to anticipate and mitigate against potential risks. On the other hand, employees who work from home are less likely to be exposed to these kinds of hazards, and the employer’s responsibility for the safety of employees who work from home is far less than for mobile workers or, of course, on-site workers. 

Up-to-date information on the USA’s response to the pandemic, including State-level news and developments, can be found at Littler’s covid hub here.

Last updated on 21/09/2021