In order to curb the spread of the coronavirus, the cabinet of the Dutch government has asked people to work from home as much as possible. To help employers and employees in doing so, the cabinet has set a number of criteria together with its social partners.
Research by TNO and RIVM (the Netherlands National Institute for Public Health and the Environment) shows that most people comply with the urgent advice by the cabinet to work from home. Earlier, outgoing minister Koolmees of the Ministry of Social Affairs and Employment promised to set general criteria for working from home together with employers’ and staff associations. The minister has recently announced that these criteria have now been set.
Taking away any uncertainties with respect to working from home
These criteria, which have been included in a guide (see: (pdf), in Dutch), should take away any uncertainties with respect to working from home and help employers and employees decide whether work can be done from home or not. The guide includes tips on setting up an appropriate home office, how to alternate between work and private life and how to have enough social interaction while working.
The general criteria are meant as a directive for individual employers and employees. It is the employer’s responsibility to set up the policy for working from home in collaboration with the works council and/or employee representation.
Employer must create a safe workplace
Of course, not all employees are able to do their work from home, either due to the nature of the job or because the mental health of the employee makes working on site a better choice. In such instances, the employer must create a safe workplace based on health and safety regulations. Moreover, the employer must ensure the workplace complies with the coronavirus measures implemented by the RIVM.
More employees can work from home
Minister Koolmees states that the most recent figures published by the RIVM show that 71% of employees work entirely from home if possible. Nonetheless, this percentage can be increased. About 9% of employees should be able to work from home more often than they do now. By means of the aforementioned guide with the criteria, the cabinet hopes to convince more employees to work from home.
Inspectorate to act
It is of course the responsibility of the employer – by discussing so with the employees – to assess whether or not working from home is necessary. Not doing so is not a violation of the law. However, if the workplace does not comply with the coronavirus measures and thereby poses a hazard to the health and safety of employees, the Inspectorate of the Ministry of Social Affairs and Employment (‘Inspectie SZW’ in Dutch) will act accordingly.