Catalans told to work from home or companies will face penalties

Catalans told to work from home or companies will face penalties
Workers are told to avoid the rush hour on public transport if possible. Photo: AFPPhoto: AFP
The latest measure to stem the spread of coronavirus by authorities in the northeastern region has been met with confusion.

The Catalan regional employment minister on Tuesday said that all businesses must insist employees work from home when possible or risk financial penalties.

Chakir el Homrani explained in an interview with Rac1 that Catalonia’s latest health department rulings in mid-October and on October 25 imply that working by proxy is “compulsory” for both the public and private sectors.

“[Companies failing to implement remote work] can be fined just like bars opening or offering food delivery beyond 10 pm,” said El Homrani.

An order published on Monday by Catalonia’s employment relations committee, which includes representatives from trade unions and business associations, stated “in-person work can happen only when mobility is unavoidable”.

“In the cases where working at a distance is not possible, other measures such as establishing staggered entry and exit, time flexibility or similar rules, so that rush hour on public transport is avoided.”

But the order seemed to provoke confusion even within the Catalan regional government itself.

Meritxell Budó, spokesperson for the Generalitat said on Monday that the exceptional powers granted to the Catalan administration under the terms of the current state of alarm do not allow making work from home compulsory.

While Catalan economy minister Ramon Tremosa told Catalunya Ràdio on Tuesday that the measure was a recommendation rather than an obligation. 

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