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Flexibility of Labour at Home

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Flexibility of Labour at Home

     Flexibility of Labour at Home

    International Project International Project

    IP FLEXEM TER 2007 IP FLEXEM TER 2007

    Flexibility of Labour at Home Flexibility of Labour at Home

    Prepared by

    Adrijana Pavillionyte, Kaunas (Lithuania)

    Erica Romera Mata, Girona (Spain)

    Dimitri Verret, Antwerp (Belgium)

    Marion Karrer, Nürtingen (Germany)

    Sarah Bouma, Rotterdam (Netherlands)

    Serena Linopanti, Florence (Italy)

    Svajune Sakalyte,Vilnius (Lithuania)

    Yana Bodryakova, Oulu (Finland)

Table of Contents

    1. Introduction ........................................................................................................................ 1 2. Current situation ................................................................................................................. 1 2.1. Legal differences ........................................................................................................ 2

    2.1.1. Traditional labour at home ................................................................................. 2

    2.1.2. Telework ............................................................................................................. 4 2.2. Economical and sociological figures ........................................................................ 12

    2.2.1. Statistics ........................................................................................................... 12

    2.2.2. General Facts .................................................................................................... 16

    2.3. Consequences ........................................................................................................... 17

    2.3.1. Consequences of telework on employers and employees ................................ 17

    2.3.2 Telework is a valuable opportunity for disabled people .................................. 18

    2.3.3 Telework and women ....................................................................................... 19

    2.3.4 Effect of telework on life in general ................................................................. 19

    3. Recommendations ............................................................................................................ 21 4. References ........................................................................................................................ 24

1. Introduction

    The challenges regarding globalisation and the saving of the environment as well as the technological developments have been leading to a lot of changes in the European labour market. Nowadays most employees do not work in the manufacturing industry anymore but in the service industry. This industry creates a high potential for telework and an increased use of network technologies which leads to situations where work is no longer bound to certain

    1locations. The service industry is very important because it represents 2/3 of the EU economy.

    In the last decades flexible arrangements of working hours became more and more important. Businesses are enabled to respond swiftly to changing consumer trends, evolving technologies and new opportunities for attracting and retaining a more diverse workforce through better job matching between demand and supply. Workers are also afforded greater choice particularly as regards arrangements for working time, increasing career opportunities, a better balance between family life, work and education as well as more individual responsibility. For some groups like for example handicapped persons and women with small children labour at home is a very good possibility to work.

    Flexible employment forms are, and in the future will probably remain, the most viable forms of work organisation in European countries and the rest of the world. Telework nowadays raises more and more enthusiasm and interest among governments, academic researches, company owners and employees. Therefore the legislature of the different countries should evolve more rapidly in regulating their implementation.

    The paper includes seven European countries which are participating in the international Project IP FLEXEM TER. These countries are: Belgium, Finland, Germany, Italy, Lithuania, the Netherlands and Spain.

    First the different legal situations of labour at home will be discussed as well as the consequences for the employees and the employer. Then the current situation and the differences between the countries will be shown in some figures afterwards. At the end of the paper there will be some practical recommendations regarding telework in order to a better adaptation and regulation of this new form of working.

    2. Current situation

     1 Piia-Noora Kauppi, Member of the European Parliament March, 23th 2007

     1

2.1. Legal differences

    The concept of labour at home has been well known for a long time in the European labour

    law discourse. All over Europe there are different approaches concerning traditional labour at

    home and telework. The scholars from all European countries participating in the IP

    FLEXEM TER agreed that traditional work at home is a way of performing job functions not

    in the employer’s premises. Only Lithuania is an exception because the Labour Code of

    Republic of Lithuania states that work at home should be exclusively performed at

    employee’s home.

    In Belgium, Italy, Spain and Germany there are two different concepts to indicate traditional

    labour at home and telework. In these countries there is a specific labour law concerning

    traditional labour at home but it is not reflecting the current situation. No law on telework can be found in the countries, although it would be useful because information and

    communication technologies are becoming more important. In Finland, Lithuania and the

    Netherlands there are not two concepts to distinguish traditional labour at home and telework.

    General labour laws cover the phenomenon of performing work away from the company.

2.1.1. Traditional labour at home

    In every European country the employee is willing to do certain industrial work under the

    authority of the employer. Even though employees are subordinated workers, the control

    cannot be exercised directly by the employers.

    Regarding employment conditions in Europe, home workers benefit from the same rights,

    guaranteed by applicable legislation and collective agreements, as comparable workers at the

    employer’s premises.

In this part the most essential elements of the agreement on traditional labour at home are

    mentioned and compared:

    Salary and wage All over Europe the most important principle concerning salary is that home workers can not

    be discriminated from the employees who work in the company.

    Most countries make a difference on what branch of industry you are working in while

    establishing the minimum wage. In Italy, Belgium, Germany and Spain the minimum wage is

    stated in the industrial-wide agreements. On the contrary, Lithuania and the Netherlands have

     2

    minimum wage fixed by law. In Finland the minimum salary is calculated hourly and it does not have to be less than a fixed amount. The other salary arrangements are based on the employment contract.

Work time and its limits

    In all Europe, home workers can arrange their working time at their own discretion, but it must not exceed the time limit set by law. In Finland the working hours are agreed between

    2 shall be the employer and the employee and only in this situation the Working Hour Actapplied. The maximum working hours per week in all the countries is maximum forty hours. Provisions on remuneration for overtime are not applicable to home workers. In Belgium the law on work at home mentions that the regulation concerning Sunday rest, prohibition on night labour and maximum labour hours during a week are not applicable to the employee who works at home.

    There are differences in the way of calculation on maximum hourly working time. For example, Italy has another criterion for calculating the daily working time, the worker should not perform his job function for at least eleven hours per day.

Equipment and compensation for all expenses paid due to work

    As general rule, the employer is responsible for providing, installing and maintaining the equipment necessary for regular home work unless the home worker uses his or her own equipment. It shall be permitted to use only work equipment which is in good working order and satisfies the requirements established in regulatory acts on safety and health at work. All questions concerning work equipment, its breakdowns, compensation for all expenses paid due to work, such as expenses for electricity, water supply, expenses for the means of communication etc., should be clearly defined between the parties before starting work at home. None of the countries have this regulated through law. It is advisable to conclude special agreements on this issue. The agreements can be union agreements, industrial-wide agreements and firm-based agreements as well as this can be dealt in employment contract. In Belgium the amount of compensation must be agreed between the parties and if there is not an agreement the employer has to pay a fixed amount of 10% of the salary of the employee, in Spain this amount shall not exceed 30% of the employee’s salary.

Safety and health conditions: working environment

     2 Working Hour Act (605/1996)

     3

    The employer is responsible for the protection of the occupational health and safety of the home worker in accordance with Directive 89/391 and relevant daughter directives, national laws and national, industry-wide, firm-based agreements.

    All over Europe the employer has to guarantee to every worker the health and safety conditions regardless of the nature of business, the type of employment contract, number of workers, profitability of the undertaking, workstation, working environment, work type, the duration of the working day (shift), the worker’s citizenship, race, nationality, sex, sexual

    3. orientation, age, social background, political views or religious beliefs

    In Italy and Lithuania there is a special provision that forbids the use of labour at home

    4contracts when the job involves some hazardous or harmful materials. Laws of the Republic

    of Lithuania also states, that if a home worker lives with persons who are under 18 years or live with a pregnant woman or a woman who has recently given birth or a breast-feeding woman, he/she may not be assigned to perform work in the conditions that may be hazardous and affect the health of the woman or the child. The home worker must inform the employer in written form about such persons.

The control of the employee working at home

    In the participating countries it is very difficult for the employer to control the working hours and working results of employees who work at home. The arrangement between the employer and the employee who works at home concerning the working hours is essential. In Belgium there can be an arrangement between both parties in which the employer can demand that the employee must work on fixed hours. So this means that the employee is obligated to work during these hours.

    The employee can not physically control the performance of his employee. The use of a webcam to solve this problem is also not an option because it is a violation of the privacy. In Belgium there is a law that mentions that the employer can not use a mechanism to control the employee on quality or quantity unless the employer tells the employee that he will use some mechanism to control his performances. Not only the use of control mechanism must be mentioned to the employee but also a visit of the home office is only possible when it is announced in advance. Otherwise this is also a violation of the privacy.

2.1.2. Telework

     3 Law on safety and health at work of Republic of Lithuania, No IX-2507, 2004 4 Italian law No 877/1973, article 2

     4

With the development of IT communication and new technologies in the last ten years, the

    European social partners started to focus on a new phenomenon called “telework“, that is the

    evolution of traditional labour at home.

    Telework is defined as a form of organizing and/or performing work, using information

    technology, where work, which could also be performed at the employers premises, is carried

    5. out away from those premises on a regular basis

    There can be distinguished four types of telework:

    1. Home-based telework:

     There exist two types of home-based work:

    - Work which is done only and exclusively home-based. In this case the

    employee doesn’t have a place of work in his company. The work is done

    exclusively in the apartment of the employee.

    - The alternating telework: This type of work means, that the employee works

    sometimes in his apartment and sometimes in the company. He changes

    between these two places of work. This type is used only for maximum three

    days a week working at home.

    2. Mobile telework:

    Mobile telework is called the working with mobile communication technique which is

    independent of places. This form of organisation is often used for field sales

    employees, service technicians or consultants.

    3. Centre-based telework:

    There exist also two types of centre-based work:

    - Satellite offices: these are offices near the place of residence of the employees

    where the employees go to work.

    - Neighbourhood offices: they are situated like satellite offices near the place of

    residence of the employees. But contrary to satellite offices these offices are

    used by employees of different companies.

    4. On-Site-Telework:

    This form means stationary workplaces at the place of value-added partners or clients

    companies.

Spread of telework by implementation of the European Agreement on telework

     5 Source: implementation of the European framework agreement on telework, adopted by the social dialogue

    committee on 28th June 2006

     5

    th July 2002 the European social partners signed a framework agreement on telework. On 16

    This agreement was innovative in many regards, and opened up new perspectives for the European social dialogue as practised for the previous twenty years. The only type of telework that is arranged by the European Framework Agreement on telework is the home-based telework. The other types of telework are regulated through general labour law. The agreement recalls that teleworkers enjoy the general protection afforded to employees. Hence, the intention was to define a general framework for the use of telework in such a way as to meet the needs of employers and workers. It highlights key areas requiring adaptation or specific attention such as employment conditions, data protection, privacy, equipment, health and safety, work organization, training, and collective rights.

    At national level, members of the signatory parties agreed on the instruments and procedures for the implementation. They also disseminated, explained and transposed the European text in their national context between 2002 and 2006.

    Implementation had to be carried out within three years after the date of signature of the agreement July 2005. By June 2006 joint national implementation reports have been

    received from 23 European countries. Even though, Lithuania has also started to give thought to how to implement the agreement but it has not sent final joint reports yet. The first step taken in several countries in the implementation process consisted in agreeing on the translation of the EU framework agreement in the national language(s) of each country concerned. The Netherlands and Spain decided to annex to their agreement /

    recommendations the jointly agreed translation.

    Once the translation was completed, a second step taken by the social partners in most countries consisted in carrying out information to make the EU framework agreement known to employers and workers in their respective countries. For example, Finland and Germany social partners informed their respective members by their internal newsletters. In addition, Spanish social partners organized seminars and agreed to publish different studies on telework in their country. Dutch employers made a brochure entitled “Telework, something for you?”

    6to promote good practices in companies with regard to the introduction of telework.

Legal situation

     6 Source: implementation of the European framework agreement on telework, adopted by the social dialogue committee on 28th June 2006

     6

    Nowhere in Europe is a national legislation for telework found. In the most European countries (BE, NL, FIN, IT, ES, GER) the European framework agreement concerning telework is implemented by national collective labour agreements (e.g. BE) and social partner agreements (e.g. ES). The only country that has not signed the European framework agreement is Lithuania, because in this country the demand for telework is still very small. In Belgium, a national collective agreement (No 85) was adopted on 9th November 2005. Compared to the EU framework agreement, it also specifies in more details the content of the written individual agreement between the teleworker and his/her employer. The Belgian collective agreement also foresees that the implementation modalities of the agreement may be detailed through sectoral, company or individual agreements.

    The same adaptation is foreseen in Italy. On 9th June 2004, the Italian social partners agreed on an interconfederal agreement at national level to transpose the EU framework agreement on telework. The provisions of the cross-industry national agreement can be completed and/or adapted through agreements at sectoral or company levels.

    In Germany, social partners provide, either jointly or separately, models of collective agreements for further use in bargaining at sector, company and/or establishment level. On 23rd May 2005, a social partner agreement was adopted together with guidelines to negotiators at local level in Finland by the representative organisations of both the public and the private sectors. The agreement recommends to takeover the key principles of the EU agreement in employment contracts and to take in account telework when conducting collective bargaining.

    Since 2003, the Spanish national agreements on collective bargaining have incorporated the EU framework agreement on telework into the Spanish labour relations system. These agreements serve as guidelines for collective agreement negotiators throughout the country and set priorities for negotiations at other levels.

    In September 2003, the EU framework agreement on telework was implemented by a recommendation of the Labour Foundation in the Netherlands. This recommendation, which is the instrument of the national social partners used to promote dialogue and agreement on issues concerning working conditions in collective bargaining at company or sectoral level.

In the European framework agreement the key features are the following:

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Voluntary character

    Telework is voluntary for the worker and the employer concerned. Teleworking may be

    required as part of a worker’s initial job description or it may be engaged as a voluntary

    7. arrangement subsequently

    If telework is not part of the initial job description, and the employer makes an offer of

    telework, the worker may accept or refuse this offer and his refusal is not a reason for

    terminating the employment relationship or changing the terms and conditions of employment.

    Italian national collective agreement mentions one exception to the above mentioned principle, in the case where telework is the only way to perform a particular job.

    If telework is not part of the initial job description, the decision to pass to telework is

    reversible by individual and/or collective agreement. The reversibility could imply returning

    to work at the employer’s premises at the worker’s or at the employer’s request. The

    modalities of this reversibility are established by individual and/or collective agreement.

Employment conditions

    Regarding employment conditions, teleworkers benefit from the same rights, guaranteed by

    applicable legislation and collective agreements, as comparable workers at the employer’s

    premises. However, in order to take in account the particularities of telework, specific

    complementary collective and/or individual agreements may be necessary.

    This principle has been translated as it stands in all countries. This is for example the case in the labour foundation’s recommendation on telework agreed upon in 2003 in the Netherlands.

Data protection

    The employer is responsible for taking the appropriate measures, notably with regard to

    software, to ensure the protection of data used and processed by the teleworker for

    professional purposes. The employer informs the teleworker of all relevant legislation and

    company rules concerning data protection. It is the teleworkers responsibility to comply with

    these rules. The employer informs the teleworker in particular of:

    ? Any restrictions on the use of IT equipment or tools such as the internet,

    ? Sanctions in the case of non-compliance.

     7 Source: implementation of the European framework agreement on telework, adopted by the social dialogue

    committee on 28th June 2006

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