Prof. Houweling on the rights and obligations when working from home
Due to the stricter corona measures, many people work at home (again). On 8 October, Prof. Ruben Houweling, professor of Labour Law at Erasmus School of Law, appeared in an interview at RTV Rijnmond, in which he offered a legal perspective on working from home. He discussed the rights and obligations that apply to working from home, as well as some areas of improvement.
The rights and obligations of employers and employees are easy to get by on the internet. Prof. Houweling, for example, states: "Just ‘google’ it and you will find much relevant information. I did that yesterday; the first ten hits gave me a fairly good idea of how it works".
A frequently heard complaint about working from home is that it feels like as if your employer comes into your home: "I would not like the idea of my employer just walking into my place at any time of the day, just to have a look at what I am doing". In this scenario, the tension between working from home and privacy is recognizable. The Dutch working conditions legislation does not contain many regulations regarding working from home. The legislator has consciously chosen to leave room for privacy law.
There also is a general regulation that supervises the interaction between employers and employees. This article states that employer and employee should behave like a proper employer and employee: the employer is responsible for ensuring that the employee has the right tools to be able to do his work, also when working from home. However, there is still uncertainty about what the employee can demand from the employer in a home-work situation: should my employer pay for my coffee or part of my energy bill? This is still a grey area, says Prof. Houweling.
Because the corona crisis may also be part of our lives in the long term, Prof. Houweling gives points for improvement concerning working from home. There is a need for more legislation on working from home, and employers, if they have not already done so, should create home working protocols. Nevertheless, the most important thing is that employers and employees continue to talk to each other about mutual expectations about working from home.