Working from Home Policy in Croatia
The Croatian Labour Act allows for employers and employees to agree on a remote or work from home arrangement and add clauses about it in the employment agreement.
The Croatian Labour Act refers to “work[ing] from home” as a “separate workplace” arrangement. Although the Act sets out additional provisions that must be included in the employment agreement, “work[ing] from home” has not been regulated enough by the Croatian laws.
For companies employing people who work from home, the following provisions must be added to the employee’s employment agreement:
- Work week duration
- A list of the tools, equipment, and machines necessary for the performance of the work, which the employer must provide, install, and maintain
- Usage of any personal equipment and the way the employer covers the cost
- Any other work-related costs the employer covers
- Occupational training
The employers have the following obligations:
- Provide employees with the equipment, including the workstation, necessary for work
- Compensate employees for work-related costs incurred — not necessarily the full costs (Employers and employees are free to agree on the compensation amount.)
- Provide employees with eye examination every two years, or as requested by the employee, borne by the employer
- Maintain working time records of employees
Health & safety at home
Employers are responsible for employees’ health and safety at work, even if they work from home, as stipulated in the Labour Act and the Workplace Safety Act. Employers must ensure the safe working conditions of employees; provide them with an ergonomic workstation (as agreed between the parties); and educate them regarding health, safety, and working in front of a computer. Employees must abide by all the security and health measures in place. An accident that happens while the employee is working from home is considered a work accident.
Even though working from home is considered to be working in a low-risk environment, employers must carry out a risk assessment of the workspace (not necessarily in person). More importantly, employers must conduct a risk assessment — specifically for those working on a computer for more than four hours a day. The objective of the risk assessment is to eliminate risks to the employee’s visual, mental, and physical health.
Employers must provide and pay for an eye examination before their employees start employment, every two years after that, or as requested by employees. Employers must also educate employees about the importance of changing activities and resting and should organise alternative activities away from the screen if the role allows, or provide them with breaks of at least five minutes and relief exercises to compensate for the strain in the eyes.
Security of information
Although cybersecurity is not highly discussed in Croatia, the EU General Data Protection Regulation and Network and Information Security regulations apply. Protection of personal data is considered a fundamental right in the country; therefore, companies are responsible for ensuring they have sufficient data security and data protection practices for homeworking to protect the company’s data and personal information from being attacked or breached. The same level of security applied at an office should be applied in a remote environment. Employees must also ensure confidentiality of the information and prevent potential threats.
Workspace Guidelines in Croatia
Employers must take all reasonable steps to ensure employees’ workstations are correctly set up, safe, comfortable, and easy to use to reduce potential injuries as indicated in the health and safety measures. In turn, employees must care for their health and safety and follow any reasonable policies or directions their employers give them.
An appropriate workstation will include the following:
- Right level of illumination (Both natural and artificial light sources should not create glare on the computer.)
- Sufficient lighting level for visual tasks to be completed without eye strain
- The right level of ventilation and thermal comfort
- Unobstructed exit path in case of emergencies (Electrical cords, uneven carpet, and clutter may create obstruction.)
- Suitable storage for documents
Employees working from home cannot have working conditions (maximum work hours, overtime hours, rest hours, weekly rest days, annual leave, etc.) and salaries lower than the ones that office workers have. Employers must respect their rights just like any other employee’s, especially regarding work hours and time off.
Employers are allowed to install monitoring systems on employee computers, but they must first inform them and protect their personal data while doing so. When hiring, employers must also inform employees before setting up video surveillance and notify employees in writing that they will be supervised by monitoring devices. If the monitoring surveillance tracks all actions by the employees or is done during the entire working time, employers must first obtain the consent of the works council or trade union commissioner.
Recommendations for employees working from home:
- Take appropriate breaks every hour to ensure repetitive actions are not continued for long periods, and stand up at least once per hour.
- Stretch and change posture often, and if possible, do an alternate activity.
- Check for a comfortable posture.
- Don’t do any lifting and pushing, and don’t carry out any type of task that is beyond the physical capacity.
- Keep wrists in a neutral (straight) position — not bent up or down.
- Keep the sitting posture upright or a bit reclined, maintaining a slight hollow in the lower back.
- Establish boundaries around work hours.
- Schedule regular meetings and catch-ups with the team.
- Go outdoors and exercise daily, if possible.