Working from home

Working from home : what responsibilities does the employer have?

Because of the corona pandemic, working from home is on the increase. Even though the government has withdrawn its advice to work from home, people do work from home more often than before. So what are the employer’s responsibilities towards its employees in that case? We answer a couple of frequently asked questions.

Is my employee entitled to homeworking?

No, there is no right to homeworking. Employees can make a request to be allowed to work from home. The employer may refuse that request. This is stated in the Dutch Flexible Working Act.

  • If you do not allow your employee to work from home, you must explain this in writing, stating the reasons. There does not have to be a compelling business interest for refusal.
  • If you do allow your employee to work from home, you can only revise this decision if new interests are involved.

Is the employer responsible for an ergonomic home office?

The employer is responsible for a healthy and safe workplace, including the home office. This is the employer’s duty of care and it is stipulated in the Dutch Working Conditions Act and the Dutch Civil Code.

The Dutch Working Conditions Decree stipulates that the home office must be ergonomically designed, insofar as can reasonably be required. This open standard has not been further elaborated in the law. It means that you, the employer, must in any case ensure your employees set up their home office ergonomically. You give the instructions for this.In addition, the employer must make occupational health and safety facilities available for the home office (on loan or in the form of compensation), insofar as this is reasonable. Examples include a desk, office chair and monitor.

If your employees occasionally work from home, or if someone has a short-term, temporary employment contract, you, the employer, cannot always be expected to make occupational health and safety facilities available for the home office. If your employee works from home a few days a week as standard at your request, you do have that obligation.

Occupational health and safety provisions for the ergonomic home office can in principle be regarded as a specific exemption within the work-related expenses scheme. This means that the resources you buy for your employees are not charged to the discretionary margin.

As an employer, can I be fined if my employee’s home office does not comply with working conditions regulations? 

Every entrepreneur with staff is obliged to have an up-to-date Risk Assessment and Evaluation (RAE) and action plan in place. In this RAE, you pay attention to all possible risks in your company. This includes the potential risks of working from home.

The Social Affairs and Employment Inspectorate (SZW) checks whether you have an up-to-date, verified RAE in place and whether your organisation has taken sufficient measures to prevent or limit the risks of working from home. This starts with informing your employees of how they can set up their home office ergonomically.

The Inspectorate SZW can impose fines if the home office does not comply with the working conditions legislation. Fines can range from € 430 to € 13,500. In addition, the Inspectorate may check home offices.

Risk Assessment and Evaluation (RAE)

The RAE is a mandatory tool for employers to promote health and safety in the company. A risk assessment allows you to identify all work-related risks and address them in a targeted manner. You can perform the RAE yourself, do it together with your occupational health and safety service, or have it done.
Everything about the RAE

Is the employer liable if accidents or medical complaints arise due to the home office?

The employer has a duty of care towards its employees. If you violate this duty, you, the employer, can be held liable insofar as the employee suffers damage as a result of that violation.

You can avoid being held liable:

  • Make sure your employees know how to set up their home office ergonomically. Give them relevant instructions.
  • Help them set up an ergonomic home office, insofar as this can reasonably be expected of you, the employer.

Is a homeworking agreement mandatory?

A homeworking agreement is not required by law but it can be useful. It is especially important that the employer outlines clear frameworks for working from home.

In addition, managers and employees must continue to discuss this with each other, for example, to determine why someone really needs to be in the office and which work can be better done at home.

Are my employees entitled to a homeworking allowance?

There is no statutory right to a homeworking allowance. Some collective labour agreements stipulate a homeworking allowance. As an employer, you can also decide to offer such an allowance. For example, you want to encourage working from home or save costs on housing because your employees already work from home a lot.

From 1 January 2022, a tax-free homeworking allowance (Dutch-language central government information) of a maximum of € 2 per day is possible. The aim is to offset the additional costs incurred by employees working from home. Such as those for gas, water and electricity.

 

Online home office check

If your employee (will) experience complaints from working from home, you can also apply for an online home office check. Together with your employee, an ergonomist will take an online look at the home office and immediately advise how the home office and working environment can be adjusted.
Ask your regular contact about the possibilities. Alternatively, you can consult our Dutch-language information:

Take out now (in Dutch)  More information (in Dutch)