Slovak Republic: Dividing line drawn between remote work and homework
Daniel Grigel and Zuzana Steklacova of Credis Law explain how Slovakian authorities have defined and created distinctions for work completed outside the office
The COVID-19 pandemic has caused work processes to change and mandatory employee presence in the workplace to be re-evaluated. As a result, the Slovak Republic has updated its rules for carrying out remote work, including telework, in order to draw a clear distinction between the frequently used home-office forms of work by employees.
As of March 1, the dividing line between ‘remote work’ and the occasional and more flexible ‘homeworking’ will be drawn, depending on the regularity of work performed off the employer’s site. If an employee is working from home but there is no element of regularity, it will be deemed ‘homeworking’ and not remote work or telework. Homeworking will therefore be reserved for special circumstances requiring the employee to temporarily work from home, such as when there are technical problems in the workplace, an extraordinary childcare situation, or other unplanned situations, including temporary homeworking due to the pandemic measures put in place by the government.
Regularity as a feature of remote work and its distinguishing from occasional homeworking will also not necessarily mean that employees should work from home the entire five-day work week. It can also include an agreement to work remotely for a specified number of days during the week, such as one or two days. Also, remote work can be performed in any location off the employer’s worksite and is not restricted to just the employee’s home.
Unlike from agreeing on a home office even informally between the employer and employee, arrangements for remote work or telework will have to be agreed by the employer and employee specifically in the employment contract. The employer will not be able to unilaterally require the employee to engage in regular remote work.
For remote work, the employer can either set out fixed or flexible working hours or let the employee manage their own working hours, in which case there is a deadline by which work must be delivered and the period of time during which the work is carried out is irrelevant. The employee will ordinarily not be entitled to overtime pay, holiday pay or weekend and night allowances unless expressly agreed under the employment contract.
The employer will be required to provide work equipment to the employee for remote work or telework, but the employee and employer can also make arrangements for using the employee’s own equipment. The employer will also be required to cover the employee’s increased costs associated with the work, such as electricity or a high-speed internet connection, if necessary to perform the work. To avoid the social isolation associated with remote work and telework, the employer must allow the employee to enter the workplace, if possible, to meet up with their colleagues.
One of the obligations of the employee will be to promptly report to the employer any technical problems associated with malfunctioning equipment and software, internet outages, and other similar issues that prevent them from working from home. Under the new rules, even employees engaged in the more flexible ‘homeworking’ will be required to report these issues to the employer.
The ‘right to disconnect’ will also be introduced from March 1 for both remote work and the more flexible homeworking. It will represent the so-called right of the employee to disconnect from work-related tasks outside working hours and the right to not use work-related equipment during their free time when working from home. If an employee refuses to perform work or carry out an instruction outside working hours during periods when the employee is remote working, teleworking or homeworking, it cannot be considered by the employer as misconduct.
Partner, Credis Law
Senior associate, Credis Law