Remote working is a form of work where the employee performs their work outside the traditional place of work using information technology within the framework of the parties’ employment contract. Remote work is based on an unforced agreement between the parties that is either part of the original job description or that is agreed upon later.
In general, there are no special provisions on remote working in VR’s collective wage agreements. Parties operating according to VR’s collective wage agreement are, however, subject to an agreement that ASÍ made with SA on remote working in 2006. (Icelandic only) This includes, i.a. the definition of remote working, the use of any kind of equipment when working and the separation between work and private life, to name a few. The agreement also states that if no remote working has been agreed to from the start, the employee shall not suffer if they reject the company’s offer of remote working; therefore, such a reason is not valid for termination or changes in terms of employment.
Employees who work remotely enjoy the same rights as those who work at the place of work according to laws and collective wage agreements. When remote working commences, the parties shall enter into a written agreement thereof in addition to the employment contract or it shall be stated right away in the employment contract at the beginning of the employment.
Workload and demands on the employee in remote working should always be comparable to the workload and demands made on the employee at the employer’s place of work.
It must be ensured that an employee who works remotely is not isolated from the community with other employees in the company by e.g. giving them the opportunity to meet colleagues on a regular basis and have access to the information provided by the company. Those employees have the same access and rights regarding training and career opportunities as comparable employees at the place of work. It must be ensured that remote workers receive all the training needed on the equipment they must use for remote working. It is also necessary to ensure that those who are at the workplace receive training in working with a remote working employee.
Members are encouraged to contact a specialist in the Wage Terms Department regarding advice on remote working.
Substantive elements of the agreement
If remote working is not part of the original job description, either the employee or the employer may approve or reject a request for such a change. As such, an employee’s refusal is not a valid reason for dismissal or a change in the terms of employment.
A remote worker shall enjoy the same terms in accordance with law and collective wage agreements as comparable employees at the company’s place of work. Additional agreements that take into account the specifics of remote working may, however, be necessary.
The employer must take appropriate measures, in particular with regard to software, to ensure the protection of data and inform the employee of the applicable legislation and the company’s regulations in this regard. The remote worker must follow these rules. The employer provides the remote worker with information, in particular on restrictions on the use of information technology, such as the World Wide Web, and on penalties for violations.
The employer respects the privacy of employees. The use of surveillance systems shall be proportionate and objective, in addition to complying with the provisions of Directive 90/270 on screen work.
Questions regarding equipment, warranty and costs should be answered before remote work begins. The general rule is that the employer takes care of the necessary equipment for the remote worker and takes care of its maintenance, unless the remote worker uses their own equipment.
The main principle in labour law is that the employee should not bear any costs for the employer, and therefore, it is natural in those cases if the employee uses their own equipment for the benefit of the employer that the parties negotiate payment for it before the work begins. The employer pays direct costs for the work, in particular electronic communications costs, and provides the remote worker with appropriate technical services.
The employer is responsible, in accordance with the rules that apply according to national law or collective wage agreements, for costs due to damage to equipment or data used by the remote worker. A remote worker must take good care of the equipment provided to them and not collect or distribute illegal content on the World Wide Web.
The employer is responsible for ensuring that the remote worker’s working environment is in accordance with occupational safety and health rules and for informing them of the company’s occupational safety and health policy, in particular with regard to screen work. It is then the employee’s responsibility to follow those rules. In order to monitor this, the employer and shop stewards of the employees and/or the relevant authorities shall have access to the employee’s workplace within the limits set by law or collective wage agreements. If the employee works in their own home, such a visit must be announced in advance and the remote worker’s consent must be obtained. The employee may also request such a visit. Detailed information on occupational safety and health in remote working can be found on the website of the Administration of Occupational Safety and Health.
The remote worker organizes their working hours within the limits of laws, collective wage agreements and the company’s rules. The tasks and performance of the remote worker shall correspond to those applicable to comparable staff at the company’s place of work. The employer shall take measures to ensure that the remote worker is not isolated, such as by giving them the opportunity to meet colleagues regularly and access to information distributed by the company.
Remote workers shall have the same training and career opportunities as comparable staff at the company’s place of work. They receive appropriate training based on the devices they use and the specifics of this type of work. Managers of remote workers may also need training in the management of such work.
Remote workers have the same membership entitlements with regard to trade union membership and related entitlements as employees at the company’s place of work. There should be no barriers to communication with shop stewards. Shop stewards shall receive information and be consulted on the commencement of remote work.