Companies will not have to bear all the costs of remote work, as the first draft of the bill that will regulate it collected. The latest version of the text, accessed by elDiario.es, eliminates any reference to “indirect costs” and leaves their compensation in the hands of the agreements. The first version, published by the media at the end of June, said that companies had to pay all expenses (direct and indirect) resulting from the activity. It considered as indirect “the proportional part of the use and consumption expenses incurred by the worker or any other person that may have as a result of the work.”
In the current draft – dated July 28, the day of the last meeting with the social agents before the vacation break – the worker continues to have the right to compensation for expenses, but not in full.
Specifically, the article that regulates it goes from being entitled “The right to full compensation of expenses” to “The right to compensation of expenses”. Where before he said that the development of teleworking would be “paid entirely by the company” and could not “in any case” assume by the worker of “direct or indirect” expenses related to equipment, tools and means, now simply says that the development of work must be “paid for or compensated by the company.” The worker will not assume costs related to equipment, tools and means, but the text leaves the door open for expenses such as gas, internet or electricity to be paid.
The crux of the matter lies in the wording of the second point, explains Josep Pérez, a labor lawyer for the Ronda Collective. “The first draft says that the collective agreement must guarantee full compensation of expenses,” he says. “The second draft allows the agreement to do whatever it wants. It delegates to collective bargaining how expenses are compensated. And that is where everything fits. If the agreement says that they are going to give you fifty euros for teleworking and that that includes everything —wifi, gas , electricity, paper, etc. – the law will allow it. ”
According to Pérez, the old wording allowed, for example, the worker to include concepts such as rent in expenses. “If I have to telecommute, I need a bigger floor to set up an office. If the square meter is worth so much, let the company pay for it,” he says. “The company has an enormous saving of structure that the workers support. In the second draft, all this is superfluous because it is in the hands of the agreement.” In any case, teleworking is still voluntary in this last version.
The latest version of the text is an improvement over the previous one “, says the CEOE
The Spanish Confederation of Business Organizations (CEOE), which initially described the draft as an “unbalanced text”, “erratic approach”, “removed from the reality of the productive fabric” and that “could discourage” the implementation of teleworking in Spain is now happy with the changes. “The latest version of the text is an improvement on the previous one, since it includes approaches transferred from the business field to the Secretary of State for Employment,” sources from the employer indicate to this medium. Even so, they point out that there are still “elements for improvement”.
The detail of who bore the expenses was one of the hottest spots in the first draft. Antonio Garamendi, president of the employer’s association, threatened to take the squad to Portugal. “If I have to hire and they put impossible conditions on me and I cannot manage my staff, I can hire in Portugal tomorrow. The world is global and digitization is global. Be careful how this is posed,” he warned in an interview on Onda Zero. Government spokeswoman María Jesús Montero relaxed the tension saying that what was there was only a draft.
Since then, the government, employers and unions have met on several occasions to make their contributions. Cost does not appear to be a workhorse for unions. “The expenses have been diluted, but it is collected that the companies have to take charge,” says Cristina Antoñanzas, deputy secretary general of the UGT. “Now we have to negotiate. We say that it is included in the agreements.” As we have seen, this will not prevent the worker from paying part of the expenses.
There will be no right to telework “due to force majeure” when a family member is ill
Another of the most relevant changes, in which employers and unions agree, is the elimination of the article that included “the right to occasional remote work due to family force majeure.” The text said that “in case of illness or accident of a relative of up to the second degree” that makes the presence of the worker “essential”, he would have the right to telework for a maximum of 60% of his working day. The article left in the hands of collective bargaining the mechanisms to avoid perpetuating roles and to “promote joint responsibility between women and men.” In other words, to avoid telework associated with care always falling on women.
“We all agreed that this article should disappear,” Antoñanzas continues. “It seemed to us that it was saying that telework is equal to a woman. Employers also expressed reluctance.”
Teleworking disappears due to “corporate force majeure”
The Ministry has also eliminated the following article, which established the preference for teleworking over the suspension and reduction of working hours in the event of “corporate force majeure”. For example, in a pandemic like the current one. In the initial proposal, companies were obliged to implement teleworking whenever possible and before resorting to a total or partial ERTE. In the current draft, this duty disappears.
Teleworking will only be flexible if agreed with the company
The first draft recognized the right of workers to flexible hours and allowed them to alter their hours, as long as they complied with working time and “mandatory availability” times. The current draft recognizes this right “in terms of the agreement” and collective bargaining. The “agreement” is the one signed by the company and the worker before starting to telework. That is, it will only be possible to make flexible hours when it is agreed with the company, and not by default.
“Employers have been very blunt from the beginning that workers cannot choose their schedules,” they explain from UGT. “We gave margin to collective bargaining.”
The next meeting, in September
After the meeting at the end of July, Work agreed to send a new text and call the next meeting in September. From the UGT they are optimistic with the development of the preliminary draft and focus on issues such as cybersecurity (little developed in the last draft) and the application on the administration’s labor personnel (as it is written now, the law would not apply about them).
Once the draft is completed, it will have to go through the parliamentary process. “Seeing the positions, an agreement can be reached”, they conclude from the union. “If the CEOE is happy with the latest draft, you can imagine that we are not too happy. It is a little more on their side, but by changing certain issues it can be rebalanced.”