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Remote work provides greater flexibility in emergency situations

The state of emergency introduced due to the second wave of the coronavirus pandemic urged to make the rules of remote work clear or at least make it more flexible. One of the newest decrees of the government aims at filling this void now.

The government chose the same way as in the spring when it allowed the employers and the employees to deviate from the regulations of the Labour Code on the basis of an agreement. Now, Government decree No. 487/2020. provides the employers and the employees with the possibility to clarify particular issues about teleworking freely. 

The rules of teleworking became modifiable

Based on the wording of the law, it is visible that regarding teleworking, a deviation is allowed only in the case of one section, namely section 196. It is needed to know that the regulations on teleworking are limited to two sections in the Labour Code. The second section not affected by the decree lays down such rules from which the parties may deviate anyway. On the whole, every element of the effective regulation of teleworking became freely modifiable. 

What does the possibility of deviation concerning teleworking mean in practice? 

Section 196 of the Labour Code defines the main points of teleworking, but it provides a little framework, so the regulation of the length of the working time or the salary must not deviate from the general rules. The golden opportunity lies in that the decree does not define the necessity of a written agreement. So the parties may conclude a verbal agreement on teleworking, or they extend the definition of teleworking itself. Although this interpretation is right, it is rewarding to write an email about the details of the agreement concluded between the employer and the employee.

Lump-sum of costs - yes in the case of teleworking, no in the case of remote work

The government decree has modified not only the Labour Code but the regulations on personal income tax and occupational safety as well. 

Regarding the personal income tax, the decree provides a preferential opportunity for the period of emergency. Up to 10% of the minimum wage, the costs reimbursed during the period of teleworking may be considered as eligible costs without any justification. Although some elements of the system are different, the decree introduces the lump-sum of costs announced previously. The criterion for the recognition of costs is that the employee shall be employed in teleworking according to his/her employment agreement as well. 

Considering the literal interpretation of the decree, the modification does not cover the employment of people working from home according to the employer’s instructions despite the terms of the employment agreement.

Occupational safety in the period of teleworking

The modifications related to the application of rules on occupational safety point in the direction of simplification. Virtually, the special regulations on occupational safety concerning teleworking have been suspended. Instead, the decree limited the employers’ tasks to the information about the rules of the safe working environment not endangering the employees’ health and necessary for carrying out their work. Virtually, it became the employees’ responsibility to find a place of employment satisfying this rule. 

On the other hand, we need to bear in mind that not only the suspended section includes regulations on occupational safety regarding teleworking, but they are included among the general rules as well, so their application may cause severe errors of law enforcement in the future.

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