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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Argentina

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

Yes, the government has introduced the home-office framework through Law No. 27,555 (the Law or home office framework regime), on 14 August 2020. The Law came into force on 1 April 2021.

The main objective of this Law is to determine the legal framework applicable to remote working. In this sense, specific regulations related to each activity will be determined by the particular Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) governing each industrial and commercial activity.

The home office framework will not be applicable when the labour relationship is performed:

  • as a result of national temporary regulations issued to prevent the spread of the covid-19 virus and specific measures taken by employers to avoid the spread of such virus and guarantee a safe work environment;
  • in the premises, dependencies or branches of clients to whom the employer provides regular services; and
  • in the employer's home, either at their request or due to some exceptional circumstance.

To make an effective home office framework, employers and employees must sign a written contract. In addition, the home office legal framework may apply to all categories of employees and “gig” employees, but not independent contractors.

Last updated on 21/09/2021

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Australia

  • at People + Culture Strategies

The government has not introduced any specific laws to regulate remote-working arrangements and these arrangements are subject to the same laws that govern ordinary employment relationships and other types of working relationships (including independent contractor/principal relationships). These obligations do not cease merely because work is performed remotely in an environment that is not directly controlled by the employer.

Safe Work Australia, which is responsible for developing national policy relating to work health and safety, has published detailed guidelines for remote-working arrangements. These set out in detail what an employer’s duty of care for the health and safety of their workers means in the context of remote-working arrangements, including providing practical advice and guidance as to how employers can identify risks to the mental health of workers at home through to how employers can ensure workers are taking rest and meal break entitlements.

Last updated on 21/09/2021

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Austria

  • at Littler
  • at Littler
  • at Littler

First, it should be noted that in the Austrian legal system a distinction must be made between remote working and working in a home office. While remote working regularly includes any work without a fixed workplace (eg, also in cafés and public premises) the work in a home office is limited to an employee's place of residence or at least that of one's partner. Only working in a home office is substantially regulated by law, while remote working can still be agreed largely without formalities and is "only" subject to general labour law norms.

The most important government measure in this sector is the Home Office Act, which came into force on 1 April 2021 in response to the covid-19 crisis and the corresponding working conditions. The Home Office Act adapts various existing laws and tightens the legal framework for home office employment. The relevant provisions include a legal definition of a home office, its direct tax implications, and fundamental legal requirements for working in a home office, such as the requirement of a written agreement between employer and employee. Therefore, a home office can neither be imposed unilaterally nor is there a legal entitlement at a statutory level for any worker to work from home.

The relevant legal provisions on home offices cover all genuine employment relationships that are based on a private law contract. Those are essentially characterised by the personal and economic dependence of the worker. It can be deduced from this definition that independent contractors are not covered by those provisions. They are essentially free to determine working hours and places and only owe their contractual partner the production of a result. Therefore, they can regularly decide independently where they choose to work.

From an Austrian point of view, "gig workers" are also ordinary employment relationships under social security law, which is why the above also applies to them.

Last updated on 21/09/2021

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Belgium

  • at Van Olmen & Wynant

For several periods during the pandemic, the government strongly recommended remote work or even made it mandatory, except for where remote work was not possible. The requirement to perform remote work was lifted on 27 June 2021. However, a fourth wave of infection in November 2021, caused the government to introduce a new obligation for workers to perform remote work at least four days a week. Employers have to register who in their workforce is capable or not capable of doing remote work through an online social security platform (used by the social inspection to enforce the obligation).

Belgium already recognised three legal systems for remote work or “teleworking”. There is the system for homeworking (the oldest form of teleworking without the use of technology); since 2005, the system for structural teleworking (for more permanent forms of remote work) based on the European Framework Agreement on teleworking of 2002; and since 2017, the system for occasional teleworking (eg, for situations of force majeure). When the government made remote work mandatory during the pandemic, it was unclear which system would apply to this “corona-teleworking”.

Aiming to bring an end to the discussions and to provide a general framework, the national social partners concluded Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) No. 149 regarding recommended or compulsory teleworking caused by the coronavirus crisis on 26 January 2021, which applies to the private sector. However, this CBA did not bring any clarity on the discussion regarding the applicable teleworking system during the pandemic, given that it only applies to organisations that had not yet implemented one of the existing teleworking systems. The other systems for teleworking, therefore, still apply to this situation in some organisations. Independent contractors and gig workers (as far as they can be considered self-employed) do not fall under the scope of this CBA. However, self-employed workers are also forbidden from workplaces if they can work remotely (except for one day a week).

Last updated on 25/01/2022

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Brazil

  • at Pinheiro Neto
  • at Pinheiro Neto Advogados

Remote-working has been formally incorporated into the Brazilian Consolidated Labour Statutes (CLT) after the enactment of the Labour Overhaul (in November 2017) – until then, the law was silent on the rules on and impacts of such an arrangement, and it was up to employers to set their own policies. In a nutshell, the law sets forth that (i) the employment contract (or amendment thereof) should govern the acquisition, provision and maintenance of technological equipment and infrastructure, and payment of any allowance or reimbursement of expenses; and (ii) employers must give express guidelines on ergonomics for employees to observe at home – and employees must sign a term acknowledging that they are aware of such guidelines. Because Brazilian labour legislation is silent on so many points regarding remote working, the Labour Public Prosecutor has set certain additional guidelines to help companies during the pandemic, as many of them have shifted to a remote model (eg, reinforcing digital ethics and highlighting that employees should receive proper technical support). All such laws and guidelines apply to employees only, meaning that independent contractors or other non-employment models are excluded.

Last updated on 21/09/2021

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France

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

The first French law on teleworking was adopted on 22 March 2012. It was subsequently modified by an ordinance dated 22 September 2017. Today, three articles of the labour code cover the implementation and the functioning of teleworking (articles L. 1222-9 to L. 1222-11). In addition, two national collective agreements were concluded between employers' representatives and trade unions in 2005[1] and 2020.[2]

The definitions of teleworking given by article L. 1222-9 and by the agreement of 19 July 2005 provide that the rules on teleworking only apply to employees with an employment contract. These rules do not apply to self-employed workers.


[1] National collective agreement on Teleworking – July 19, 2005

[2] National collective agreement for a successful implementation of teleworking – November 26, 2020

Last updated on 21/09/2021

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Germany

  • at CMS Hasche Sigle

There has been no change to the legal basis for mobile working in Germany as far as the employer-employee relationship is concerned. However, at the end of 2020, the Federal Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs (BMAS) proposed the draft Mobile Work Act. The intention was to give employees a right to request mobile working and discuss the issue so they can reach an agreement with their employer. For any employer that disregards its obligation to discuss an employee's request and fails to issue a refusal in due form and time, the draft law states that the employee's request for mobile work would become part of their contract for six months. However, the draft contains several ambiguities. After employers' associations and individual interest groups (eg, the German Lawyers' Association) expressed reservations, the draft law was not passed. It was not introduced into the legislative process and the German parliamentary elections in September 2021 have rendered it moot.

However, from 24 November 2021 to 19 March 2022, a temporary amendment to the Infection Protection Act imposed an obligation on employers to offer remote working unless any overriding operational reasons exist to the contrary. Employees had to accept the offer provided there are no reasons to the contrary on their part. These may be, for example, a lack of space or technical conditions in the employee's home. Since 20 March 2022, there is no longer any legal obligation for remote working. Nevertheless, employers can continue to offer home office voluntarily.

An amendment to the Works Constitution Act brought another change in June 2021, confirming the works council's comprehensive right of co-determination in the organisation of remote working. This very significant development means that a works council can stop measures through which mobile work will be introduced or changed through an interim injunction if it has not given its consent beforehand, or if the refusal has been replaced by an internal arbitration procedure within the company. Against this background, companies need to involve employee representatives in good time if new regulations for mobile work are to be introduced as part of the "new normal".

In principle, the provisions of German labour law only apply to employees. Employees are characterised by the fact that they are deployed within an operational organisation, performing work that is subject to instructions. However, there are two important points to note: platform workers may also be covered, as the German Federal Labour Court ruled in its judgment of 1 December 2020 (9 AZR 102/20); and wherever national law serves to implement EU law, an extension is necessary. Accordingly, managing directors and employees who are in an economically dependent working relationship with a principal (ie, they have a similar status to employees) can also be covered. This might also be relevant to mobile work if provisions to transpose Directive (EU) 2019/1158 on work-life balance for parents and carers into national law and repeal Council Directive 2010/18/EU are planned.

Last updated on 14/04/2022

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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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Hong Kong

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

The Hong Kong government has not implemented any specific laws or guidelines related to remote-working arrangements. However, the privacy commissioner for personal data has issued various guidelines concerning protecting personal data under work-from-home arrangements. It should be noted that these guidelines are not legally binding but rather recommendations from the privacy commissioner. They apply to organisations and employees, but there is no specific mention of the guidelines extending to gig workers or independent contractors.

The guidelines state that the same standard of security should be applied when employees are working from home as when they are working from the office. They list out various considerations for organisations, including:

  1. setting out clear policies on the handling of data during work-from-home arrangements;
  2. taking all reasonable steps to ensure the security of data, particularly when information and communications technology is used to facilitate this; and
  3. providing sufficient training and support to employees under work-from-home arrangements to ensure data security.
Last updated on 11/10/2021

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India

  • at Nishith Desai
  • at Nishith Desai

The Indian government has not introduced any labour laws or guidelines around remote working.

However, India is in the process of codifying several of its national-level labour laws into four codes, and one of the labour codes in this regard is the Industrial Relations Code, 2020 (the provisions of which are yet to be made effective). The Industrial Relations Code, 2020 contains provisions relating to Standing Orders that mandate employers in certain establishments to adopt certain work rules for their employees. The draft model Standing Orders proposed by the federal government, as was published by the Ministry of Labour and Employment in December 2020[1] (but yet to be finalised and notified) contains a reference to “work-from-home” arrangements for employers in the services sector.

Additionally, the law on maternity benefits allows a female employee (who has returned from maternity, and whose nature of work is such that it may be performed remotely) to request permission from her employer to work remotely on mutually accepted terms and conditions.

Companies that are registered with the Department of Telecommunications (as Other Service Providers), Special Economic Zones and Software Technology Parks of India, are required to comply with certain conditions for their employees to work from home.


[1] https://labour.gov.in/sites/default/files/224080_compressed.pdf

Last updated on 18/11/2021

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Ireland

Ireland

  • at Littler

The Irish government announced in March 2021, as part of its National Remote Work Strategy, that it plans to provide employees with the right to request remote working. This right is now likely to be introduced in mid 2022. In line with most Irish employment protections, it is anticipated that this right will be limited to employees only, and so will not extend to independent contractors or “gig” workers who are not employees.

This new right will likely limit when an employer can refuse a request to work remotely and may also give employees a right of action against their employer where such a request is unreasonably refused. Details of the grounds on which an employer may refuse a request for remote work have not yet been announced, nor have the potential consequences for refusing the request. However, it is expected that a similar approach will be taken to that in the UK, where the right to request flexible working – and the grounds on which such a request can be refused has been in place since 2003.

In the meantime, the government has introduced guidance for working remotely (see here) and a remote working checklist for employers (see here).

Last updated on 13/01/2022

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Italy

  • at Toffoletto De Luca Tamajo

Italian employment law provides – within the framework of employment relationships – for two different ways of working outside the company premises: Teleworking (that is, “Telelavoro”) and Smart Working (that is, “Lavoro Agile”). Neither of them entails a new type of employment contract, but simply a different way of performing the work.

In particular, Teleworking is a way of regularly carrying out work outside the company premises but in a fixed workplace, which is normally at the employee’s home. In the private sector, it is regulated by: a) the European Framework Agreement on Telework dated 16 July 2002; b) the National Collective Bargaining Agreement dated 9 June 2004 for the transposition of the Framework Agreement (hereinafter “CBA 9 June 2004”) and c) the National collective bargaining agreements.

Instead, Smart Working is a way of carrying out work partly inside the company premises and partly outside, without any fixed location. It is regulated by articles 18 - 24 of the Law no. 81/2017.  Italian employment law defines Smart Working as an agreement between the parties without any constraint in terms of working hours or workplace, along with the possible use of technology to enable the work activity to be performed. Therefore, Smart Working, differently from Teleworking, is not constrained to any specific place and work can be performed both inside or outside company premises - with no fixed location.

During the Covid-19 pandemic the Italian Government chose Smart Working as the “main way of working” to fight the spread of the virus and, in some cases, recommended working remotely whenever possible. Considering, the ample diffusion of this way of working, any reference to remote working below shall be understood as Smart Working.

In particular, since March 2020 employers have been allowed to implement Smart Working unilaterally (i.e., without signing any agreement with the employee). Moreover, multiple provisions have been issued during this emergency period specifying the categories of workers that are entitled to work remotely (Smart Working) or have priority to access that way of working, should it be possible for the duties assigned to be performed remotely and depending on the company’s need. Indeed, those categories mainly refer to “vulnerable workers”, such as severely disabled workers and those in possession of specific certificates attesting a risk condition deriving from immunodepression, oncological pathologies or life-saving therapies and parents of disabled children.

Independent contractors or gig economy workers are not included in these specific provisions.

Finally, recently the Italian Government introduced a piece of legislation expressly providing for the right of remote workers to disconnect from IT tools and platforms, without prejudice to the agreements signed and “availability slots” agreed with the employer.

©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

Mexico passed a reform to the Federal Labor Law (FLL) concerning teleworking (remote working) in January 2021. According to the FLL, remote working applies under the following conditions: (i) employees’ services are not required in the employer's facilities; (ii) employees constantly provide their services outside of the employer's facilities; (iii) employees carry out more than 40% of their work outside of the office; and (iv) technology is used for the administration of the labour relationship and supervision of the performed services.

The Mexican legislation on remote working, however, does not exclude or limit the possibility of remote working for employees based on their position; this scheme may be negotiated by an employer with its employees through an agreement.

“Gig” workers and independent contractors are treated equally and not considered employees, so telework guidelines do not apply to their services. However, if the service provider files a lawsuit before the Labour Board claiming the existence of an employment relationship, the beneficiary of the services must prove that the service provider was not under his control, supervision, or exclusive dependence.

Last updated on 21/09/2021

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Netherlands

  • at Rutgers & Posch
  • at Rutgers & Posch

Since March 2020, the Dutch government has advised that employees should work (partly) from home, unless this is not possible. Currently, the advice is that employees can work up to a maximum of 50% of their working hours at the office. This concerns all “types of workers” (employees, independent contractors, etc.), but, because it concerns a governmental emergency measure, it does not provide employees with an explicit “right to work from home” or “right to work remotely”. On 23 November 2021, the government issued guidelines, which employers could use to accommodate employees (at least) temporarily working remotely. These guidelines (in Dutch) can be found here.

Although most employees have been working from home, or at least partly from home as of March 2020, Dutch legislation is brief on remote working and does not provide a right to remote working. The Flexible Work Act (Wfw), which applies to employers with more than 10 employees, has been in effect since 1 July 2016 and under this legislation, employees who have been employed for at least six months before the intended start date of the requested adjustment can request to adjust, inter alia, their place of work. Article 1(d) of the Wfw defines “place of work” as “any agreed place which is or is usually used by the employee in connection with the performance of work.” In principle, employers have to consider the request and – if the request is being rejected – to discuss it with the employee. In addition, once the request to adjust the place of work has been granted, the employer can withdraw the adjustment.

More recently, on 27 January 2021, the legislative proposal the “Work Where You Want Act” was submitted. This would provide employees with a right to homeworking and aims to provide employees with more freedom to divide their time between the workplace and working from home. It is expected that the legislative proposal will be discussed with the House of Representatives in February 2022.

Last updated on 08/03/2022

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Poland

  • at Bird & Bird
  • at Bird & Bird

Remote-working arrangements have been present in Polish law since 2007 as regards teleworking, which requires formalised implementation (ie, an internal policy consulted on with trade unions or employee representatives) or it may be agreed individually (with employees).

All employees (individuals cooperating under an employment contract) may engage in teleworking if their role and scope of duties can be performed remotely. Remote-working arrangements may be introduced at the employer’s or the employee’s request, but require the consent of the other party. The refusal of an employee to agree to remote-working arrangements cannot constitute grounds for their termination. Also, either party may submit a binding request to opt out of a remote-working arrangement and restore the previous working conditions within three months of the date that remote working begins.

During the COVID pandemic, additional temporary laws were introduced to make remote-working arrangements more flexible for employers. Thereunder, employers may unilaterally (without the employees’ consent) request that employees work remotely if they have a suitable working environment at home. The tools and materials needed to work remotely, and logistics support for this, should be provided by the employer. The temporary remote work provisions of law will expire three months after the end of the “epidemic state“ in Poland.

Also, the Polish government has recently been working on rules for remote working that would be binding post-pandemic, although the details of the provisions of the bill are not known at this stage. 

The above solutions apply to employees only, while other categories of workers, including B2B or other independent contractors, are not covered by them. Such workers may enjoy a high degree of flexibility regarding remote work due to the specific nature of their cooperation, as well as their roles or industry.  

Last updated on 21/03/2022

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Portugal

  • at Cuatrecasas
  • at Cuatrecasas

The Portuguese Labour Code established the legal regime for remote working, in particular teleworking, in 2003. This provided employers with a general framework for this kind of arrangement. During the covid-19 pandemic and its successive lockdowns, a vast array of legislation on telework was issued, given the specificity of the situation.

Back in March 2020, the teleworking regime could be unilaterally imposed by an employer or requested by employees, without the need for an agreement of the parties provided that it was compatible with the employees’ functions. Independent contractors were excluded from the scope of this regime.

Due to the evolution of the pandemic, it was then determined that teleworking should be mandatory, regardless of the employment relationship (including contractors), whenever employees’ functions allowed it. In this context, measures were also adopted to promote the compulsory implementation of teleworking within the scope of civil servants, whenever this was compatible with the functions being performed.

With the reduction in the number of covid-19 cases, in summer 2020 teleworking was no longer mandatory and the legal regime foreseen in the Portuguese Labour Code was solely applicable.

However, the increase of covid-19 infections led to the adoption of new measures in October 2020, which determined the promotion of teleworking whenever the nature of the activity allowed it. Considering the number of outbreaks, it quickly evolved to a point when teleworking became mandatory in the regions with a higher risk of infection.

It was only in November 2020 that teleworking was established as mandatory for companies that were the final users or beneficiaries of services provided by independent contractors, service providers and temporary employees.

After Christmas 2020 and with the new lockdown, teleworking once again became mandatory across the country. Despite a government announcement in March 2021 that teleworking would be mandatory until the end of the year, due to the success of the national vaccination programme teleworking ceased to be mandatory from 1 August 2021.

Council of Ministers Resolution No.181-A/2021 decreed mandatory teleworking between 25 December 2021 and 9 January 2022, which was then extended until 14 January 2022.

Other than this period of mandatory teleworking, at the end of 2021 Law No. 83/2021 was passed, which entered into force on 1 January 2022. This law modified the teleworking regime, introducing several changes to the Labour Code and to Law 98/2009 on work accidents and occupational diseases.

This new law states that provisions on equipment and systems; organisation, direction, and control of work; special obligations; privacy; and health and safety at work apply to all situations of remote work without legal subordination, but with economic dependence. The extension and scope of such obligations are unclear, but it is doubtful that this new teleworking regime was intended to accommodate “gig economy” workers and other independent contractors. It is more likely to have a residual character, to prevent situations where it is unclear if one is dealing with an employment contract or a service provision (eg, home workers), as this may change crucial rules on privacy or health and safety.

Last updated on 07/03/2022

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Qatar

  • at Clyde & Co
  • at Clyde & Co

Pre-covid, there was an assumption that employees would work from their employer's premises and remote working was not particularly prevalent. Immigration approvals are employer-specific and location-specific, in that the grant of a work permit authorises the individual to work from the employee's premises. Legislation has not, therefore, typically addressed the issue of home working or remote working. 

Due to covid-19, the government initially mandated that companies implement working from home for 80% of its workforce and that the remaining 20% of the workforce only work between the hours of 7am and 1pm. These restrictions have since been gradually lifted with employers now able to operate in the office with 80% capacity.

The Qatar Ministry of Administrative Development, Labour and Social Affairs (MADLSA) issued guidelines in April 2020 regarding remote working. The guidelines stated that:

  • teleworking conditions of employment should remain unchanged, there should be no change to salaries and benefits as a consequence of working from home;
  • working hours should not go beyond the hours that were being applied in the workplace;
  • employers should provide, where possible, the necessary equipment and supplies to ensure their employees can carry out their duties and enhance performance, including electronic equipment;
  • devise strategies to support safety and health of employees working remotely and mental health;
  • employees should maintain the same productivity as in the workplace and be available during working hours as agreed with their employer, and not undertake personal activities during working hours;
  • working from home does not replace regular annual leave;
  • a good work-life balance must be maintained.
Last updated on 08/11/2021

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Saudi Arabia

  • at Clyde & Co
  • at Clyde & Co

Pre-covid, remote working was rare and not specifically addressed by legislation. In 2020, as a result of home-working requirements introduced due to the pandemic, the Ministry of Human Resources and Social Development (MHRSD) issued a Temporary Guiding Manual on Remote Working in the Private Sector (Remote Working Manual).

The Remote Working Manual provides that employers should have a technical system that meets, as a minimum, the following specifications:

  • enabling the employer to manage the worker's productivity remotely and supervise the tasks assigned thereto; and
  • granting the remote worker the powers enabling them to perform their work duties.

It also provides that “the Employer shall determine the management of the remote working method for its employees in terms of determining the working hours, whether they have specific times, or are flexible during the day, week, or month, provided that it shall determine mechanisms for monitoring its work and managing the worker's productivity”.

In relation to employees, it states that those working remotely should:

  • attend the workplace whenever necessary;
  • use, in the performance of their work, the devices designated for them by the employer, or the personal devices to which the workplace's cyber security controls apply;
  • keep the work information and documents in the technical tools of the employer;
  • abide by the policies and procedures related to cyber security and telecommunications stipulated by the employer;
  • preserve the tools and devices which are in their custody, take care thereof and request the necessary maintenance from the workplace whenever necessary; and
  • Return the tools and equipment provided thereto by the employer to carry out their work whenever requested.

Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA) Ministerial Resolution No. 792 dated 22.02.1436 AH on Regulating Remote Work (MR 792) is also relevant as it provides eligible Saudi nationals with the right to apply for remote working. Although MR 792 only applies to Saudi nationals, it provides useful guidance as to what the authorities may deem appropriate in a remote-working arrangement.

MR 792 states that the contractual relationship of the remote worker should be regulated by a written employment contract expressly indicating that the employment with the employer is based on remote working and the contract shall determine the place(s) where the job tasks can be performed, the employee's tasks and job description, the number of working hours, the normal working hours, the wage and all other rights and benefits, in addition to any other rights provided for in the KSA Labour Law, Ministerial Resolutions and approved bylaws of the establishment.

MR 792 states that the employer shall:

  • provide the employee with all of the necessary tools and equipment to perform the work;
  • pay the cost of equipment maintenance to ensure the continuous functionality of the same;
  • pay the bills of telecommunications and IT provided to the employee to perform the tasks delegated to them; and
  • observe the general safety means – which should be available at the remote-working place –to maintain the safety of the employee.

MR 792 states that the employee shall:

  • maintain and take care of the tools and equipment – that are in their possession – and request the necessary maintenance of the same from the employer and the employee shall provide ordinary care and diligence;
  • return the tools and equipment provided to the employee by the employer – to carry out their work – whenever requested to do so, unless the parties agreed otherwise; and
  • not use the tools and equipment – in their possession – for any purpose other than required for the work, or in any illegal works.

It is worth noting that although MR 792 provides useful guidance for how to implement remote working for non-Saudi nationals (ie, its provisions are not mandatory to non-Saudi nationals) regarding Saudi nationals, any company that violates its provisions shall be subject to the following penalties:

  • a monetary fine of not less than 2,000 Saudi riyals and not more than 5,000 riyals pursuant to article 239 of the KSA Labour Law; and
  • all or some of the penalties stated under article 6 of Cabinet Resolution No. 50 dated 21.04.1415AH concerning Saudisation according to the procedures stated thereunder.

The above legislative provisions apply to employees and employers within the private sector operating within a traditional form of employer-employee employment relationships, and therefore do not apply to independent contractors.  

Last updated on 29/11/2021

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Spain

  • at Cuatrecasas
  • at Cuatrecasas

Yes. The Spanish government has passed new laws on remote working. First, on 22 September 2020, it approved Royal Law-Decree 28/2020 on remote working, followed by the Spanish parliament passing Law 10/2021 on remote working, superseding it but keeping most of its provisions.

This law applies to any kind of labour relationship in which at least 30% of a worker’s working hours are at their home or wherever they decide. Therefore, there is no specific regulation on “gig” workers or independent contractors.

Additionally, the Spanish government passed a specific regulation in article 5 of Royal Law-Decree 8/2020, through which companies should encourage and prioritise remote work among their staff because of the covid-19 pandemic, as long as this is feasible for their business.

Last updated on 21/09/2021

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Sweden

  • at DLA Piper
  • at DLA Piper
  • 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

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Switzerland

  • at Lenz & Staehelin

Swiss labour law, in particular the Swiss Code of Obligations, does not contain any specific rules regarding remote working. Remote working is governed by the general rules of labour law and, in particular, by the will of the parties to the employment contract (ie, employers and employees).

However, the Federal Act on the Statutory Principles for Federal Council Ordinances on combating the Covid-19 Epidemic (covid-19 Act) provided the Federal Council with a legal basis to implement remote working, should the need arise. The Federal Council made use of this provision and made remote working mandatory from 18 January 2021 to 26 June 2021 and again from 20 December 2021 onwards. In theory, mandatory remote working is set to end on 24 January 2022, but this measure could be extended if the Federal Council deems it necessary.

The remote-working obligation concerns all workers, provided that remote working was possible and did not lead to exorbitant costs. Employers are responsible for making sure that appropriate organisational and technical measures were in place.

Additionally, even between 26 June 2021 and 20 December 2021, when remote working was no longer obligatory, but rather merely recommended, an exception existed for employees at risk, including pregnant individuals and persons who cannot be vaccinated for medical reasons.

It also should be noted that on 10 June 2021, a motion was introduced in Parliament that would enact provisions covering remote working (eg, definitions, scope and issues related to health and safety and work and rest periods); this motion has been sent to committee for an initial review.

In conclusion, except for the Federal Council's decree requiring remote working between January and June 2021 and from 20 December 2021 onwards, no specific legal provisions govern remote working in Switzerland. 

Last updated on 20/01/2022

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Turkey

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

Article 14 of the Turkish Labour Act (TLA) defines remote working as a contractual employment relationship in which employees carry out their duties from home or other locations outside the workplace, sometimes through digital platforms. Based on the TLA, the Ministry of Labour and Social Security recently prepared a Regulation on Remote Working (Regulation), which came into force on 10 March 2021.

The Regulation covers all employees who work remotely under article 14 of the TLA. In this regard, the said rules shall apply to all categories of employees defined under the TLA, including but not limited to fixed-term workers, temporary workers, part-time workers and full-time workers. On the other hand, independent contractors would not qualify as workers under the TLA, as they would not be working in a way that is dependent on a specific employer.

In addition, the Ministry of Labour and Social Security has published the ”Guideline on Remote Working During covid-19” (the Guideline), to increase awareness and share with all employers and employees any information and advice about potential scenarios, problems and economic risks, especially under occupational health and safety. Since all information included in the Guideline qualifies as a recommendation, it may apply to anyone working remotely, even after covid-19.

Last updated on 21/09/2021

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UAE

  • at Clyde & Co
  • at Clyde & Co

Pre-covid, there was an assumption that employees would work from their employer's premises and remote working was not particularly prevalent. Immigration approvals are employer-specific and also location-specific, in that the grant of a work permit and residency visa authorises the individual to work from the employer's premises. Legislation has not typically addressed the issue of home working until the issuance of the new Labour Law (Law No. 33 of 2021 (Labour Law)) and executive regulations to the Labour Law (Cabinet Resolution No. 1 of 2022 (Executive Regulations)), which came into force on 2 February 2022. These introduced non-traditional forms of employment, including part-time, temporary, flexible (or freelance), remote-working, and job-sharing employment relationships. No further guidelines have  been issued on these new forms of employment and we will need to see how these operate in practice from an immigration and Labour Law perspective.     

The Labour Law applies to all employees in the UAE, save for:

  • employees of the UAE federal and local government;
  • employees in the Dubai International Financial Centre and the Abu Dhabi Global Market;
  • members of the UAE armed forces, police and security services; and
  • domestic workers.

Several resolutions were issued by the authorities during 2020 as a result of covid-19 that provide for remote working in light of reduced capacity in the workplace due to covid-19 restrictions (eg, physical distancing).

Ministerial Resolution No. 281/2020 enforced remote working for all employees whose job did not require their physical presence at the office to combat covid-19, and provided some guidelines for remote working in the private sector.  

The guidelines provide that employers should:

  • provide the technical equipment necessary to carry out remote working through the use of smart and electronic systems;
  • determine mechanisms, standards of efficiency and productivity, and time frames for all tasks assigned to the worker;
  • determine the mechanisms for the management of remote working, such as determining working hours, whether set at a specific time or a flexible time during the day, week, or month;
  • ensure the availability of a safe technological environment to carry out remote working, taking into account the controls related to maintaining the privacy and confidentiality of data and codifying the powers to access systems;
  • follow up with remote workers electronically to ensure their commitment to working hours remotely and the completion of the tasks assigned to them; and
  • facilitate remote workers' communication with their colleagues in management and leadership, as required to perform tasks and access the necessary information and systems to perform the work, and provide video chat applications.

It further provides that employees should do the following:

  • obtain their employer's approval for remote working;
  • report to the workplace when requested to do so;
  • perform the tasks according to the specified timeframes;
  • be available to answer all calls, e-mails and any available means of communication to ensure continuous communication according to the requirements of work;
  • maintain the confidentiality of information, documents and papers, and utilise the remote working hours to complete the required tasks;
  • provide supporting evidence required by the employer regarding his accomplishments and productivity;
  • preserve remote-working devices provided by the employer and return them whenever so required; and
  • read and comply with the Privacy Policy for remote workers.

The guidelines only applied to employees and employers within the private sector who fall under the jurisdiction of the Ministry of Human Resources and Emiratisation and only applied (prior to the new Labour Law coming into force) to traditional forms of employer-employee relationships, and therefore did not apply to independent contractors.    

Last updated on 15/03/2022

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United Kingdom

  • at Littler

The UK has, for some years now, had in place a formal system by which certain employees can request their employers to implement flexible-working arrangements: see UK government guidance here.

A request can only be made by an employee with 26 weeks’ continuous service (which, in general, means an unbroken period of service with the employer or a related entity), and can only be made once a year. The right does not extend to non-employee workers.

There is a statutory format for making a formal request. This mechanism has not changed or been updated in response to the pandemic but continues to apply as it did previously. The rules differ slightly in Northern Ireland from the rest of the UK.

In addition to the formal, statutory flexible-work request process, many employers have been implementing more informal flexible work policies and arrangements. There is no bar on employers doing so outside the formal statutory mechanism, but any informal arrangements do not remove an employee’s separate right under the legislation to make a formal request. 

Employers must not unlawfully discriminate against their employees and workers when handling remote-working requests (whether they are formal or informal requests) or when making remote-working arrangements: see UK government guidance here and here (for the grounds upon which discrimination is unlawful). There is also a duty to make reasonable adjustments for disabled workers: see here.  Where remote-working requests or arrangements are not handled reasonably and consistently, this could also ultimately trigger an “ordinary” unfair dismissal claim.

In response to the increased interest in homeworking during the pandemic, some UK government agencies and quasi-government agencies have issued guidance relevant to their particular fields of interest.

From 13 December 2021, office workers in England able to work from home should do so, unless necessary to attend the workplace physically. Different government guidance applies to different sectors: see here. Different guidelines apply in England, Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland.

The Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service (ACAS), a quasi-governmental service that issues guidance relating to workplace matters, has published some recommendations for successfully implementing homeworking: see here. This guidance is not legally binding but is often relied upon by employers, unions, employees and other stakeholders.

ACAS has also published guidance on dealing with Covid-19 in the workplace: see here.

In the UK, businesses have a common law obligation to take reasonable steps to protect the health and safety of employees and other types of workers, including those based at home. Under the UK’s health & safety legislation, the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974, employers also have specific legislative duties concerning employees (including home-based employees).

Under the UK’s health and safety legislation, the relevant watchdog – the Health & Safety Executive (HSE) – has also issued some guidance on how to safely implement homeworking arrangements: see here. Specific HSE guidance on keeping workplaces safe during the pandemic in light of current restrictions can be found here.

There are separate regulations that deal specifically with employees who are computer users (and which regulate the usage of computers, screens, and relevant furniture such as desks/chairs), and these again also apply to home-based workers. More guidance can be found from the HSE here.

Last updated on 13/01/2022

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United States

  • at Littler
  • at Littler
  • at Littler

Yes, many states have passed laws that recognise remote-working arrangements. This includes laws concerning employee reimbursement of costs relating to remote work, workers’ compensation, tax, timekeeping and meal breaks, data privacy, and providing accommodation.  Because companies may be legally considered to be employers or “co-employers” of consultants and contractors, these rules may also apply to non-employees.

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