Work from home
According to the Flexible Work Act (Wet flexibel werken), employees who have been with the company for at least six months can request to work from home.
The employee must give at least two months notice, and the employer must offer their answer back no later than one month before the proposed date. If the employer fails to respond, the request must be granted. The employer can refuse the request but must consider it and substantiate the refusal in writing.
Employees can submit such a request once a year. After the employer has approved the request to work from home, they will need a significant business reason (for example continuous underperformance of the employee) to revoke it.
Health & safety at home
The employer must ensure the health and safety of employees working from home. The corresponding rules and employer obligations are outlined in three separate pieces of legislation:
- Working Conditions Act (Arbowet)
- Working Conditions Decree (Arbobesluit)
- Working Conditions Regulations (Arboregeling)
The organisation responsible for enforcing the legislation is Inspectorate SZW (Ministerie van Sociale Zaken en Werkgelegenheid). If an employer violates this legislation, they may be fined. An employer could also be held liable for damages to the employee if, for example, they suffer from a repetitive stress injury.
If an employee asks to work from home, the employer is only responsible for providing adequate information and advice. If, however, it was the employer who requested the employee to work from home, they carry a much bigger responsibility. This includes the design of the workstation, the working method, as well as the tools necessary. The employer must ensure that the employee has an ergonomic chair and a desk at home as well as proper lighting.
Their responsibility also requires a visit to the employee's home to assess whether their workspace complies with the regulations. That could be done either by the employer or a health and safety expert. Alternatively, the employee can send photos or videos of their environment. The employer will have to cover any costs to make the workspace ergonomically sound and safe.
If the employer wants to monitor the employee in some way, they have to create a policy that is available to everyone.
Working conditions policy
Employers should put in place a general working conditions policy that includes points on how employment-related psychosocial pressure will be limited or prevented altogether. When working from home, experiencing excessive work pressure is a real threat which employers should work to avoid. This includes informing employees on health and safety risks and ways to limit them.
When creating and implementing these policies, the employer should consult with the works council or staff representation body. For smaller organisations that do not yet have a works council, the employer should consult with employees individually.