The outlines of the decree, that still needs to be ratified by unions and business associations, will outline the rights of the employee when working from home and the responsibilities of the employer.
“This puts us at the forefront of European legislation,” Labour Minister Yolanda Diaz told a press conference on Tuesday.
Working from home was rare in Spain before the Covid-19 pandemic hit, but is now a reality for 20 to 30 percent of all employees, several studies show.
Here’s what we know about the new agreement so far:
What is considered “working from home”?
The legislation will apply to all employees who spend at least 30 percent of their time working from home – the equivalent of one day and a half per week – for at least three months.
Who can do it?
All home working arrangements should be voluntary on the part of both employers and employees and a worker could not be sacked for refusing to do so. It will require the negotiation of an agreement between both parties.
Businesses cannot force employees to work from home and for those that do, they must cover the costs incurred.
What’s that about covering expenses?
Employers will also have to cover the cost of equipment, tools and other expenses while the employee is working from home, such as electricity, internet and phone bills, IT kit and ergonomic chairs.
Checks and monitoring
Businesses will be able to adopt “measures to check and monitor” that their staff are fulfilling their work obligations, the Expansion business daily said without elaborating as to how these checks will be carried out.
Will workers’ rights remain the same?.
Staffers will retain their right to a private life, including the right to disconnect, the government said.
Those who do work from home cannot be penalized in terms of financial retribution, post occupancy, working hours, training or promotions, the decree said, recognising that a teleworker must maintain the same rights as before.
When will the new regulations come into force?
It won’t be immediate. The regulation has been introduced via decree but this doesn’t mean it becomes immediately effective from the date of being published in the Official State Gazette (BOE).
This is because a “transitional provision” has been entered into the decree to cover the “extraordinary circumstances” of the coronavirus crisis and means that some of the regulations are suspended, for example it won’t be mandatory for a formal agreement to be signed before working from home can start.
Vocabulary you need to know:
teletrabajo / trabajo a distancia/ trabajo remoto: Working from home
trabajo presencial: Working in the work place (as opposed to from home)
gastos asociados: expenses you can claim for working from home
la negociación colectiva: collective bargaining
un acuerdo detallado por escrito: Detailed written agreement which must be signed between employer and employee regarding conditions for working from home.