Management of occupational safety and data protection risks arising during work from home – Part 1
Part 1 of this series discusses labour law and labour safety issues. In case of questions, please contact Hédi Bozsonyik.
What is it that has changed regarding home office and teleworking because of Covid-19? What can we expect in the future? How can employers prepare for the “new normal” and how can employees manage things from their side?
Before Covid-19, teleworking and working from home in Hungary represented a percentage of 1.2 among employees aged between 15-64, according to Eurostat.
With the second wave of Covid-19 sneaking up on us, it is necessary to realize that employers need to prepare for flexible working weeks and teleworking / home office for the foreseeable future. It is important to note that the Hungarian Labour Code currently does not know the term “home office”, only teleworking.
The amendment of the current teleworking rules is expected shortly. In these amendments, we will likely see that the Government is going to provide some more flexibility to employers to assign teleworking or home office.
Most of the companies currently operate in a hybrid model and, even though the emergency period expired, employers still prefer to provide the option of flexible work and home office. However, working from home has required an agreement between the employer and the employee since 1st of July (just like before the introduction of the emergency period). In the home office agreement, the parties need to agree upon:
- the place of work,
- the employee’s work schedule (fixed or flexible),
- the equipment that needs to be provided by the employer,
- the reimbursement of costs and expenses,
- the employer’s specific rights.
Companies have learned that teleworking and home office do not fit every employee or position. Teleworking / home office raises a lot of risks and challenges, including issues concerning working time, labor safety, work accident and data protection. It is also advisable to measure and keep records of the employee’s performance.
Regarding work safety, employers must be aware of the below, and keep in mind that work safety risk exposure is oftentimes quite difficult to manage:
- Minimise risks: it is the employer’s responsibility to ensure the conditions of a healthy and safe workplace,
- Accidents taking place in home office may qualify as work accidents,
- Prepare internal company policies for HO, health & safety, data protection and data security,
- Risk assessment must be conducted, and the employer has the right (and obligation) to inspect the designated area within the home office.
It is the employee’s responsibility to:
- Ensure an internet connection / heat / light / water in the place of the home office,
- Keep the designated workplace clean and organised at all times,
- Comply with internal company policies,
- Comply with the home office agreement.
We encourage every employer to revisit the internal company policies and the Home Office agreements and check if everything is in order based on the above overview.