Working from home (the so-called “home office”) has become an increasingly popular form of
income-earning activity based on employment among employees, since it represents a more flexible and sometimes even more efficient method of cooperation between the employee and the employer. The employee does not have to come to the office on a daily basis but (s)he may organize his/her work tasks around his/her own time schedule and capacity, which will allow him/her to achieve a better balance between his/her work and private life (work/life balance). If the home office regime is set up appropriately, it may bring a number of advantages for the employer, such as economy of operation costs, work efficiency growth and, last but not least, an increase in the motivation and long-term satisfaction of employees.
Czech law does not provide for a detailed regulation of this form of employment, and therefore it is necessary to provide a specific framework for any home office arrangement in labor law (employment) documentation or in internal regulations issued by the employer. Provisions of the Labor Code (“Labor Code”) apply to an employee working in a home office regime, if he alone is responsible for the distribution of work hours, with certain deviations. Provisions of the Labor Code regulating the distribution of work hours, stand-by time or interruption of work due to unfavorable climate conditions will not apply to such an employee. Such employee is not entitled to a wage or to extra time off for overtime work hours, or for work during holidays; there is a major restriction on the payment of wage compensation attributable to important obstacles to work. If the employee’s work hours, however, are distributed by the employer even within the framework of his/her home office, the above (or any other) deviations from the general regulation will not apply.
Since the legislation regulatory framework of home office arrangements is insufficient, we recommend that if the employer decides to support this form of distance cooperation, terms and conditions of the home office arrangement should be specified in the employment agreement, or, alternatively, in a separate contract for home office work performance. Such conditions should cover in particular the following areas:
For cases where an employer decides to introduce a home office work arrangement in its company (for example, allowing home office to certain categories of employees), and where such arrangement or this form of cooperation is not going to apply only on an occasional basis, we would recommend to specify the above basic contractual arrangements also in a binding internal directive of the employer that will address the individual aspects of working from home in greater detail and with respect to possible specific aspects given by the individual types of jobs/positions.
The continuous development of modern information technology, together with the growing interest of employees in achieving a good work/life balance, has caused an increasing demand for the possibility to use home office. It is therefore advisable that employers should be prepared for the modern trend and consider and pay attention to setting up individual relationships with their employees, without underestimating possible legal traps arising from the lack of a legislation framework. We will continue to keep you informed about related issues and in particular about the amendment to the Labor Code, which is under way and which is expected to introduce, inter alia, a more detailed legal regulation in relation to home office.
Authors: Ladislav Smejkal, Partner/attorney-at-law, Dentons Europe CS LLP
Adam Přerovský, Associate, Dentons Europe CS LLP