The current health crisis has forced companies and workers to adapt rapidly to an exceptional and unprecedented situation. The percentage of people remotely working in Spain has risen from a mere 5% at the beginning of March to 34% over the last few months. That means a third of employed workers have changed their way of working.
Article 13 of the Royal Legislative Decree 2/2015, of 23 October, which approves the revised text of the Statute of Workers, already covers distant work in Spain. However, its regulation is very succinct and mostly insufficient. The increase in this type of work required a more accurate law to identify the rights and obligations of both companies and workers.
After several months of negotiations, the Ministry of Labour and the social agents have finally reached an agreement on the most controversial aspects of the new law, namely the compensation of expenses and its scope of application. Eventually, the government, unions, and employers have approved the Law for Remote Working.
The Law for remote working regulates the following aspects:
1. Scope of application of the law
The Law for remote working applies to workers who work remotely for at least 30% of the day within a period of three months.
It does not apply to companies that introduced remote work as part of the restrictions to combat the pandemic for as long as the constraints remain in place. Companies, however, must provide their employees with the necessary means and compensate them for any expenses incurred.
2. Defining remote work, casual remote work, and teleworking versus face-to-face work
Remote work is performed from the worker’s home/chosen place, during all or part of his working day, but in a non-occasional manner.
Telework is performed exclusively with a computer, telematic, or telecommunication means and systems.
3. Equal treatment and non-discrimination for the provision of remote services
Remote workers will have the same rights as those who work face-to-face in terms of training, remuneration, promotions, work-life balance, and working hours.
4. Voluntary nature of remote work
Remote work will be voluntary for the worker and the company.
5. Exceptions to remote working
Minors or workers with internship contracts or training contracts cannot sign up for remote work.
6. Agreements for remote working
A written agreement for remote work with minimum requirements for it to be valid is mandatory.
Any subsequent adjustment will be in writing through a mutual agreement between the company and the worker before its implementation.
7. Priority access to remote work
Workers who need to reconcile their family and work life, who want to exercise their right to breastfeeding, who are victims of gender violence or terrorism will have priority access to remote working.
8. Remote Workers’ Rights
The law includes a series of rights for people working remotely:
- Right to training
- Right to professional promotions
- Right to adequate means, equipment, and tools
- Right to full compensation of expenses
- Right to flexible working hours
- Right to proper time register
- Right to labour risk prevention
- Right to privacy and data protection
- Right to digital switch-off
- Collective rights for distant workers
In short, remote workers will have the same rights as those working face-to-face except for the right to full compensation of expenses. The company is responsible for the direct and indirect costs related to the equipment, tools, and means linked to the development of the work activity. However, the applicable collective agreement, or the agreement between the company and the workers, will determine the means to quantify these expenses.
9. Occasional remote working
Workers will be able to access occasional remote work:
- In the event of force majeure within the family, making his presence at home/chosen place, essential
- In the event of business force majeure, that is, if a cause temporarily interrupts or prevents the company’s activity.
The Law for Remote Working in Spain was approved urgently by Royal Decree-Law 28/2020, on 22nd September and will take effect 20 days after its publication in the BOE, that is, on 12th October 2020.
This article is not considered as legal advice