Teleworking will soon have a new regulation in Spain. The Ministry of Labor, unions and employers have reached a preliminary agreement on the Distance Work Law, which CCOO, UGT, CEOE and Cepyme will consult first thing tomorrow morning internally in their organizations. With the hope of a positive result of these consultations, the Government plans to approve the rule tomorrow in the Council of Ministers through a royal decree-law, according to sources from the social dialogue to elDiario.es. It has been complicated, but finally the employers have supported the legislative text despite their reluctance. Teleworking, the conditions of which will have to be set out in a written agreement, will be voluntary for both the worker and the company and the rule aims to guarantee that their rights and obligations are the same as those that operate in the workplace.
Rights and obligations of teleworking: this is the legislation in other European countries
“The obstacles that separated us have been overcome and that must be ratified tomorrow by the respective governing bodies of the organizations,” say sources from the CEOE employer. The norm is thought to be a royal decree law, compared to the initial idea of approving it as a bill, to take effect in 20 days, they explain in social dialogue.
The three parties have reached the pact well into the afternoon of this Monday, after a meeting of more than eight hours. The Ministry headed by Yolanda Díaz thus scores a new victory for social dialogue, not without difficulties, since it has been difficult to add the employers to the agreement. Employers were opposed from the beginning to this new legislation, with the refusal that at this time it is urgent to legislate remote work.
Teleworking is already briefly regulated in article 13 of the Workers’ Statute and, although it was gradually increasing, it was hardly used before the pandemic. The coronavirus caused its precipitous spread, in many cases without guaranteeing basic labor rights and leaving the costs of the measure in the hands of the workers, so the Ministry of Labor and the unions agreed on the need to expand the legislation to specify the conditions that companies and employees must meet who decide to opt for teleworking.
The royal decree law that the coalition government intends to approve this Tuesday will possibly give Spain the most detailed legislative framework on this matter in the EU, which has regulated teleworking by law or through collective agreements, according to the countries.
Written telework contract
The text that will come to light after the Council of Ministers this Tuesday has undergone many changes regarding to the draft that the Ministry of Labor raised at first, with elements that have completely disappeared (such as the right to telework due to “force majeure” to care for family members) and others that have been modified, such as compensation for telework expenses by the company and the right to disconnect digital.
Throughout the negotiation many aspects have been discussed, with several assignments to reach an agreement with social agents, especially with employers, starting with why remote work is considered “regular”, since this criterion marks the application of the law. After the insistence of the employers, it is understood that remote work is regular when it reaches a minimum of 30% of the day, after the assignment of Work that had encrypted it at 20%, that is, one day a week, for example.
One of the key regulatory issues is the obligation of companies to sign written agreements on teleworking conditions, which from now on must be formalized before teleworking begins. For situations that are already in force, transition periods are established, which in the least of the cases are three months.
The written agreements must contain, as a minimum, the inventory of means, equipment and tools that requires the development of remote work, “including consumables and movable elements”, the expenses that the worker may have, as well as “the way of quantification of the compensation that the company must pay “, according to the latest draft that this media has had access to. The wording of the compensation for expenses has been lowered with respect to the initial text, in which it was specified that the company would have to assume all the expenses of telework, both direct and indirect.
The law in times of COVID
The latest reluctance of the CEOE and Cepyme employers’ associations, which have finally been overcome this Monday, focused on how and when the new regulation is applied for telework situations that have occurred due to COVID, in which teleworking has become a priority , as well as the transition to regulation for companies that already had teleworking implemented by virtue of collective agreements signed in the past.
The first element was especially important for entrepreneurs, given the multitude of companies that have implemented teleworking due to the pandemic, in many cases temporarily. The employers did not want the new legislation to be applied to these situations of almost “forced” telework, something that the Ministry of Labor and the unions rejected. Finally, an additional provision develops the special conditions for this situation in which remote work, for which companies will not be obliged to comply with all the fine print of the standard, for example they will not have to sign the written agreement with your employees. But yes, “they must provide the workers with means and compensation for expenses will be agreed upon in collective bargaining,” explain sources from the bargaining.
In the case of collective agreements and agreements that already develop teleworking conditions, the law establishes two cases. When the agreements have a validity period, their conditions may be maintained during this period and then they must be adapted to the new legislation. In cases where there is no established deadline, the new legislation will have to be complied with within a maximum period of one year, extendable to three years in the event of an agreement in the negotiation between unions and employers.