How to arrange work from home at the time of coronavirus (COVID-19) spread – update in the light of most recent developments

06 March 2020

In the light of the recent spread of coronavirus (COVID-19) infections in Slovenia, Ministry of Labour, Family, Social Affairs and Equal Opportunities published official guidelines and recommendations for employers relevant for the possibility of employees working from home.

In the event when human life and health as well as the employer's assets are at risk, the employer may deviate from organisation implemented during the normal state of affairs, and may regulate that certain or all categories of employees work from home. Legal basis for such action is Article 169 of Employment Relationships Act. No change of employment contracts is required in such case.

When such decision is adopted by an employer, it is important that following relevant aspects are assessed:
- suitability of working post for such organisation – it is not possible to carry out all work from home, especially the types of work, which could be detrimental to employees’ health and the types of work, which are prohibited to be carried out from home by the law;
- working time aspect – notwithstanding the fact that an employee will be more flexible with arranging work time when working from home, an employee is still obliged to comply with the rules on health and safety at work and to ensure himself adequate brake and rest periods. Moreover, an employer is obliged to keep sufficient evidences on employees' working time also in cases when an employee works from home. Ministry's document indicates a practical approach for such situations, namely that an employee only reports his working time in case it differs from regular full working time (8 hours);
- provision of means for work – employee and employer must reach an agreement on provision of materials and means for work and on the amount of reimbursement for the use of employee's equipment;
- preservation of trade secrets and other sensitive data;
- health and safety aspects – considering the nature of exceptional circumstances, it is not probable that an employer will manage to execute all prescribed measures. Bearing in mind the content of work, which can be carried out from home, and low risk that such work would result in detrimental consequences to employees’ health in such short amount of time, the Ministry recommends for the employers to provide employees with appropriate instructions on how to implement health and safety measured while working from home.

The changes may only apply for the duration of such exceptional circumstances and employer must notify Labour Inspectorate on carrying out work from home as soon as possible.

Draft of the intervention legislation on waiting for work at home

These days we are not talking only about working from home, but also about waiting for work at home. Due to the spread of coronaviruses, operation of business could be endangered, therefore the state considers implementing an option to subsidize waiting for work at home.

In the light of the aforesaid the Ministry of Labour, Family and Social Affairs drafted an emergency act. Provisions of the proposed act on subsidizing full-time work while waiting for work at home provide solutions in the event that the employer could not provide work for more than half of his employees due to business reasons. It is envisaged for the state to subsidize waiting for work at home by 40%, while the validity of the act would be limited for up to half a year. It is expected that more information will be available within the next days.

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