Workers’ rights and duties: what’s new in remote working?

Workers’ rights and duties: what’s new in remote working?

Edited by Stefano Trifirò

The adoption of remote working in companies entails new rights and duties for agile workers. The digitalisation of production processes has had a considerable impact on the organisation of work, now based on an increasingly flexible articulation of work places and times. In such a new working context, the employer does not always have direct control of the workstation, let alone of the worker’s behaviour. In fact, agile working presupposes flexibility, greater autonomy, a new empowerment and orientation towards results, taking into account extra-work factors that are considered, such as the reduction of home/work/work transfer times and the consequent cost savings. For these reasons, there are some rules to bear in mind. Here are the main changes in labour and trade union law.

  1. Written agreement

The remote working agreement between employer and employee is the main instrument through which the rights and duties of the agile worker are established. The agreement must be drawn up in writing both with reference to the manner in which the work performed outside the company’s premises is to be carried out, and also with regard to the forms of exercise of the employer’s managerial power and the tools used by the worker. The agreement must identify the worker’s rest periods and the technical and organisational measures necessary for their implementation, as well as the exercise of the employer’s executive power, which remains unchanged.

In addition, the agreement must provide for at least the following rights and duties of the workers

– the voluntary choice of remote working;

– commitment periods and not working hours;

– the guarantee of disconnection periods;

– the employee’s free choice of where to work provided that security and confidentiality are respected;

– the possibility of using employee-owned technological tools.

Thus, one immediately understands the importance of the assistance of an employment law firm in the drafting and review of the agreements under consideration.

  1. Time, place of work and right to disconnection

The implementation of remote working does not change the working time regime applied; therefore, one will continue to refer to one’s individual working time, subject, however, to the limits of the maximum weekly daily working time. It will be possible to work remotely at one’s home or company facility outside of those where work is carried out on the premises or, in any case, at other places (second home, coworking spaces, etc.) deemed suitable to guarantee security, confidentiality and adequate connection. An important innovation among the rights and duties of remote workers is certainly the right to disconnection, which must be ensured with a view to promoting well-being and work-life balance. It will be necessary to identify and guarantee workers effective compliance with daily and weekly rest periods, as well as rests during work, with particular regard to workers who use monitors and terminals on a continuous basis, and on-call time slots. This system may also be implemented and modified during the validity of the remote working agreement.

  1. Security, Remuneration and Welfare.

Once again, these are important rights and duties of workers which find important novelties in the case of remote working.  As far as safety is concerned, the employer continues to be responsible for safety as well as for the proper functioning of the technological tools at the worker’s disposal for the performance of services in agile mode. In terms of remuneration, it is then essential to bear in mind that the current legislation provides that for the purposes of economic and regulatory treatment, the ‘agile worker’ is fully equal to the worker attending in presence. Lastly, it will be necessary to provide protections relating to the right to health and safety at work, the development of career opportunities and salary growth, right to training and lifelong learning and periodic certification of relevant skills; right to take holidays and leave in the manner provided for by law and by collective agreements.