Regulation of telework in Europe after COVID-19


Telework is not regulated at EU level through mandatory law mechanisms. There are no specific directives focusing on telework, although several directives and regulators address issues that are important to ensure good working conditions for teleworkers.

The pandemic of COVID-19 was a total paradigm shift on telework. It left such an important impact that both countries and companies have modified their conventions in order to have some aspects of teleworking legislated.

Within this context, Belgium Belgium stands out as a country where the social partners have issued a collective bargaining agreement that provides a framework for employers and employees to do the right job.

Other examples of countries that have introduced legal changes in the regulation of telework since the outbreak of the pandemic are:

Italy: extension of smart working in public administrations with law 24 April 2020, n. 2727, which provides for an extension of "smart working" in public administrations. By 31 January each year, public administrations, after consultation with trade unions, have to draw up a plan for the organisation of smart work (POLA), as a section of the performance plan. The POLA aims to identify activities that can be carried out in a smart way and used by at least 60% of the employees. In case POLA is not adopted, smart work applies to at least 30% of employees, if they request it.

Slovakia: amendment of the Labour Code (March 2021). The establishment of the Slovak telework regulation was partly triggered by the pandemic. The amendment to the Labour Code establishes a new set of rights and obligations of the employee and the employer. A telework arrangement requires mutual agreement and a certain regularity (rather than being a one-off occurrence). The new provisions oblige employers to reimburse the employee for increased costs related to teleworking, such as expenses for equipment and tools. The code introduces the right to disconnection at the end of the working day and during the weekly break, unless overtime has been ordered or agreed, as well as during holidays. agreed, as well as during holidays and public holidays

Spain: the current regulation in Spain is Law 10/2021, on Remote Working, of 9 July, in response to COVID-19, Royal Decree Law 28/2020 was passed, based on a Framework Agreement signed by the social partners, from which the commonly known Telework Law was derived. However, the purpose of this law is to provide adequate, cross-cutting and integrated regulation in a single substantive rule that responds to various needs, balancing the use of these new forms of provision of paid work and the advantages they bring for companies and workers. It focuses on regulating the right to disconnection, as well as specific aspects of occupational safety, ergonomic, psychosocial and organisational aspects, as well as the distribution of working time, the limitation of availability and breaks. The employer must also take protective measures to support particularly vulnerable employees, such as pregnant employees, as well as ensure and inform about the possible risks of teleworking and the space where remote working takes place. In addition, an obligation on the employer to compensate the employee for the costs of remote working is introduced.

In Ireland and France there are also other relevant initiatives. In January 2021, the Irish government published its National Remote Working Strategy, which foresees some legislative changes, as well as other measures to support telework (for example, improving telework infrastructure such as internet connectivity to the internet), and the development of national data on the incidence and frequency of remote working, as part of a wider effort to improve data on flexible working arrangements to provide an evidence base for future policy. The strategy responds in part to the call by the Irish Congress of Trade Unions for a comprehensive review of labour law in relation to telework. Also in January 2021, the social partners in France published a new cross-sectoral agreement which replaces the 2006 agreement and complements the pre-COVID-19 legislation on telework.

For more information, check: Regulating telework in a post-COVID-19 Europe.