Telecommuting or home office allows employees to work for their employer from home. It is becoming increasingly popular among employees as it allows them to avoid traffic jams and overcrowded public transportation. In particularly virulent pandemics, such as Covid-19, telecommuting can slow the spread of disease and keep employees safe.
While there are many benefits to home office, there are also a number of specific issues that arise.
When working from home, employees process company, customer and supplier data at home. This leads to increased privacy risks. When the employee decides to work on a terrace, there are even more risks for the confidentiality of this data. The employer is obliged to take adequate measures to prevent these situations and to guarantee the confidentiality of his data.
In order to avoid duplication, employees often use their own equipment for teleworking, such as laptops, cell phones or internet connections. This phenomenon was especially prevalent during the Covid-19 pandemic, when employers had to implement telecommuting in a hurry.
While it is clear that additional business expenses, such as telephone costs, must be covered by the employer, the issue is more controversial for expenses already incurred by the employee in a private capacity. Should the employer pay an allowance to the employee who uses his internet subscription or who dedicates a room in his apartment to telework?
Surveillance of the employee
When teleworking, the employer has less means to monitor the work of his employees. The employer is more likely to monitor his/her employees to ensure that they are working all their hours, that they are reachable, or that the employee's work is of high quality. The employer must follow strict conditions and procedures before implementing such monitoring.
The employer has other means at his/her disposal to verify the quality of the employee's work that are more effective and less intrusive.
The employer is obliged to take adequate measures to preserve the physical and mental health of his/her employees. This obligation also applies when the employee works from home.
When it is implemented in haste, home office can have an impact on the health of employees, especially when the office and the equipment at the employee's home are not ergonomic. The employer must respond.
When an employee works from home, it is more difficult to distinguish between work and private life. Away from colleagues, the employee may have to work irregular hours and may feel socially isolated, which may jeopardize his or her psychological health. Drowning in files with children to manage, the employee may feel unable to meet his obligations. The employer is required to take appropriate measures to prevent these situations.
In the context of the Covid-19 pandemic, some people have characteristics that make them more vulnerable to this virus. The employer must, as far as possible, allow them to telework. Otherwise, the employer must pay their salary during their absence.
Employers must be particularly careful when allowing their border workers to telework. Indeed, if the work at home exceeds a certain percentage, the employer will have to pay social security contributions at the employee's place of residence. This regime has been relaxed during the period of health crisis linked to Covid-19.