Spanish cabinet approves working from home bill: How will it work?
Agreement between government, unions and businesses now passes to Congress
One of the biggest social impacts of the coronavirus pandemic has been the huge increase in the number of people worldwide working from home.
On Tuesday, 22 September, a bill to regulate this increasingly common practice was approved by the Spanish government, following negotiations with unions and employers.
So how will the new law – which still has to be debated and approved in Congress – work in practice?
Who decides – employer or employee?
Broadly speaking, the legislation says that remote working cannot be "imposed" by either an employer or employee. In other words, its implementation must be the result of a written agreement between the two parties.
Therefore, it will be of a voluntary nature, it will be reversible, and it cannot be cited cause for dismissal due to a "lack of adaptation" on the employee's part.
Who does it affect?
In order for the regulations to apply, an employee must work remotely for at least 30% of their hours for a period of three months, or an equivalent percentage based on the duration of their contract.
In practice, this means working from home at least one and a half days a week.
How are workers' rights affected?
The new law reinforces the role of collective bargaining, through agreements and arrangements that will determine conditions such as the right to disconnect, flexible working hours and the option to reverse an agreement on home working.
The regulations also outline the right to adequate registration of hours, which must include the start and finish time, and the right to be protected against occupational hazards.
What about equipment?
Companies must provide the means, equipment and tools for staff to be able to carry out their job. Employers will also be responsible for the upkeep and maintenance of equipment.
Essentially, workers will be able to claim a contribution from companies towards household utilities necessary for them to work at home. The law does not set out an exact percentage or figure, it is to be agreed between employers and staff.
Where companies monitor work performance remotely, staff members' right to privacy and data protection must be guaranteed, as must the right to digitally disconnect outside of working hours.
Does it apply to public administration staff?
The new regulations will not apply to public administration staff, who will be governed by a specific set of regulations, still to be agreed.