The new Telework Law, explained: all the changes that the Government is preparing to regulate remote work

The confinement has multiplied by three the number of employees who work remotely, up to 30.2%, according to Eurofund data. To adapt to this way of working, which with the pandemic has passed its acid test, the Ministry of Labor is preparing the new 'Distance Work Law'.

Until July 7, the text is open to modifications, but we already know its proposals thanks to the draft of the draft law. These are the most important measures of the new law that will regulate teleworking, as described in the text proposed by Yolanda Díaz's ministry. And is that according to the Minister of Labor and Social Economy, "the current article 13 of the Statute of Workers where telework is now regulated is insufficient and obsolete."

What details should be agreed with the worker

As the proposed text describes, the future law aims to "establish the rights and guarantees of people who perform remote work" and "clearly establish the limits of remote work but also allow them to display all their possibilities" . Among its main challenges is that of "working and rest times", a factor that must be specially protected by legislation.

It is established that the company and the worker must agree and leave in writing the details of the routines. The draft establishes that flexible hours may be negotiated, although the company may establish availability bands.

"In order to guarantee the effective separation between working time and personal time that in turn ensures this right to disconnection, it is necessary that the hours of the remote worker be specifically and clearly identified in the remote working agreement, without prejudice of the right to change this, which, with the limits and conditions established in said agreement, corresponds to the worker ".

The text establishes that there should be equality of treatment and non-discrimination with respect to the people who come to the company's workplace, except "those who are inherent in the realization of the labor provision in the same in person".

The proposed law also establishes that "there should be no unjustified salary differences depending on the different standard of living in the place where the services are provided." That is, the salary should not be different depending on the person's place of residence.

Remote work must be voluntary. The law understands telework as a "right of the voluntary person" and "may not be imposed on the worker by any means, not even those that in our labor regulations allow the modification of working conditions with just cause and specific procedure "

The agreement must be in writing; either at the time of the initial contract or at a later time. Among the details that should at least appear in the agreement would be the following, as directly stated in the text of the draft law:

  • "Inventory of the means, equipment and tools required for the development of concerted distance work, including consumables and furniture items, as well as the useful life or maximum period for their renewal."
  • "Mechanism of compensation of all the expenses, direct and indirect, that the worker could have for the fact of providing services at a distance".
  • "Working hours of the working person and within him, where appropriate, availability rules".
  • "Distribution between presence work and remote work".
  • "Work center of the company where the remote worker is attached".
  • "Usual workplace".
  • "Where appropriate, means of business control of the activity."
  • "In your case, term or duration of the agreement."

At the risk prevention level, "remote work will be understood as a job of special danger and therefore it will be prohibited for minors." Neither will it be allowed to do "internships or contracts for distance training", referring to recent graduates and not to university training internships.

Compensation for expenses derived from working at home

Another aspect that the new law seeks to regulate is the expenses derived from working at home. "People who work remotely will be entitled to the provision of all the means, equipment and tools necessary for the development of the activity." And is that according to the draft, the worker will be entitled to full compensation for expenses. This compensation may be established through different channels, through a collective agreement.

"The development of remote work must be paid for entirely by the company, and may not, under any circumstances, assume the direct or indirect expenses of the worker, related to the equipment, tools and related means to the development of their work activity ".

Legislation leaves the door open to compensation for the "usual workplace," which can be either the worker's home or another location. Regarding the use of the equipment, the company will have the obligation to set in writing how often it will renew the equipment and means of production for the remote worker.

Companies will also have the obligation to guarantee "the effective participation of these workers in training activities and their right to professional promotion."

Right to privacy and privacy

One aspect to be protected is that related to privacy and data protection. According to the draft, "the company may not require the installation of programs or applications on devices owned by the worker, or the use of these devices in the development of remote work."

Likewise, the law also contemplates the personal use of professional equipment. In such a way that, based on collective bargaining, workers may "make use for personal reasons of the computer equipment made available by the company for the development of remote work, taking into account the social uses of said means and the peculiarities of remote work ".

Right to digital disconnection

One of the problems most associated with teleworking is time management. To try to alleviate it, the right to digital disconnection will be regulated, an initiative proposed by some groups for years but not yet reflected in the law.

"The corporate duty to guarantee disconnection implies an absolute limitation of the use of technological means of business communication and work during rest periods, as well as respect for the maximum duration of the working day and any limits and precautions regarding working hours. that have the applicable legal or conventional regulations. "

Which workers will benefit

The intention of the Ministry of Labor is that telework is preferred for certain groups. This is the case of mothers who are breastfeeding or in charge of caring for children under 12 years of age. The preliminary draft also contemplates that in case of illness or accident of a family member, the latter will have "the right to carry out their work remotely for a maximum of 60% of their ordinary working hours, if this is technically and reasonably possible".

This regulation will also apply to those who already teleworked prior to the entry into force of the law. "In no case may the application of this law result in compensation, absorption or disappearance of any more beneficial rights or conditions that people who previously provided remote services have been enjoying." Additionally, the distance agreement regulated by law must be signed within one month from its entry into force.

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