The European Framework Agreement on Telework: A Step Forward for Remote Working
The COVID-19 pandemic has changed the workplace dynamics, and remote working has become the new normal. Many companies have adopted telework policies to ensure business continuity, safety, and flexibility. However, remote working regulations and guidelines differ from country to country, creating confusion and legal challenges.
To address this issue, the European social partners, namely, BusinessEurope, the European Centre of Employers and Enterprises providing Public Services, the European Trade Union Confederation, and the General Confederation of Italian Industry, have signed the European Framework Agreement on Telework. This agreement aims to provide a common legal framework for telework in Europe and promote remote working as a viable work option.
What is the European Framework Agreement on Telework?
The European Framework Agreement on Telework is a voluntary agreement between the social partners to provide a common legal framework for telework in Europe. It defines telework as “a form of organising and/or performing work, using information technology, in the context of an employment contract/relationship, where work, which could also be performed at the employer`s premises, is carried out away from those premises on a regular basis.”
The agreement aims to ensure that telework is voluntary, reversible, and compliant with the existing legal and collective agreements. It also emphasizes that teleworkers should have the same rights and protections as office-based workers, regarding health and safety, training, and career development opportunities.
What are the key provisions of the agreement?
The European Framework Agreement on Telework has several key provisions, including:
1. Voluntary nature of telework: Telework is voluntary and based on the mutual agreement between the employer and the employee. The employer should provide a clear telework policy and consult with the employees and their representatives.
2. Equality of treatment: Teleworkers have the same rights and protections as office-based workers, including health and safety, social security, and collective bargaining agreements.
3. Right to disconnect: Teleworkers have the right to disconnect from work outside their working hours and to have a work-life balance.
4. Data protection: Teleworkers` personal data should be protected according to the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) and other relevant national laws.
5. Collective agreements: Telework should be covered by the collective agreements and should not undermine the existing collective agreements.
What are the benefits of the agreement?
The European Framework Agreement on Telework has several benefits, including:
1. Common legal framework: The agreement provides a common legal framework for telework in Europe and eliminates the legal uncertainties and discrepancies between different countries.
2. Flexibility: Telework offers flexibility for both employers and employees, allowing them to manage their work-life balance better.
3. Increased productivity: Telework can increase productivity by reducing commute time, office distractions, and improving job satisfaction and motivation.
4. Cost savings: Telework can reduce office expenses, such as rent, utilities, and office supplies, and reduce travel expenses for the employers and employees.
The European Framework Agreement on Telework is a significant step forward in the remote working landscape, providing a common legal framework for telework in Europe and promoting telework as a viable work option. It offers flexibility, promotes work-life balance, and increases productivity, benefiting both employers and employees. The agreement emphasizes the voluntary nature of telework, equality of treatment, right to disconnect, data protection, and collective agreements, ensuring that telework is compliant with the existing legal and collective agreements.