Telecommuting And Occupational Risk Prevention: Aspects To Take Into Account If You Work From Home
Telecommuting is a form of remote work
The RDL itself introduced the concept of “telework” as a form of remote work, which must meet the requirements of being carried out through the exclusive or prevalent use of computer , telematic and telecommunication means and systems . From now on we will focus on people who carry out remote work through telework, whom we will call teleworkers.
Disadvantages of telecommuting
On the contrary, the respondents indicate that among the main drawbacks of teleworking is the lack of social contact (50%), the confusion between work hours and personal life (44%) or work overload (37%). This leads us to consider teleworking as a form of work that has come to stay, whose preponderance is increasing every day due to the terrible pandemic in which we are immersed.
The objective of the aforementioned RDL is to grant teleworkers the same rights as workers who carry out their activities in the company’s facilities, an issue that revolves around voluntariness and agreement between workers and employers; In fact, it will be necessary for the worker and the employer to sign a remote work agreement, which must be formalized in writing, registered at the employment office and delivered to the legal representation of the workers; agreement that must contain a series of requirements , such as the Inventory of the means, equipment and tools to use, way of compensating direct and indirect expenses that the teleworker may incur, schedules, availability, distribution between presence work and remote work, the chosen work center, etc.
On the other hand, the refusal of the person to telecommute will not be a justifying cause for the termination of the employment relationship, nor for the substantial modification of the working conditions. Although each particular case will have to be analyzed, sentences are already beginning to appear in which companies are condemned for unfair dismissal of workers who have refused to telecommute or who have requested a reduction in working hours when the company forces them to return to face-to-face work. Against this, there are rulings, such as that of the Social Court No. 3 of Madrid , which supports the dismissal of a worker who had lowered her performance in retaliation for not being allowed to telework, although this ruling is prior to the entry into force of the RDL.
Advantages of teleworking
There is no doubt that this way of working represents an emerging reality, accelerated by the appearance of the State of Alarm, as it presents a series of ADVANTAGES :
- Avoid the loss of time and the costs involved in traveling to a work center, saving space in it, lower consumption of office supplies, etc.
- Improvements in reconciling work and family life. Advantage that should be “quarantined”, as it can produce the opposite effect. A study prepared by an Association of businesswomen has recently appeared, where a high percentage of them preferred to work from the office, due to the difficulty of separating work from home, and because their circle thinks that by “being at home”, they can be assign more own housework, errands, etc. Issue that can be extrapolated to both sexes; We already have the experience during the State of Alarm, where teleworking fathers / mothers with children in their care have suffered situations of notable stress due to the impossibility of attending to work, housework, childcare and their education simultaneously.
- Other improvements such as the reduction of traffic in cities , with the consequent reduction of pollutant emissions into the atmosphere, improvement in food when eating at home, etc.
What are the main risks of teleworking?
But there are also a series of INCONVENIENCES for teleworkers , such as:
- The increase in technological means in teleworking can lead to psychosocial problems due to their use, both because of their use and the learning that this requires, and when they are used as forms of control (transparent worker syndrome), as well as the feeling that the worker to be constantly monitored through these means.
- Permanent connection (digital disconnection), with the possible repercussion in an excess of hours worked
- Discrimination of employees who are not in the workplace with respect to those who are (working hours, level of demand,…).
- Possibility of feeling of isolation and loss of corporate identity. The use of virtual platforms used in meetings, project monitoring, etc., results in a lack of personal contact, significantly reducing the teleworker’s interaction with their bosses and colleagues, which can translate into a lack of motivation and perhaps Loss of performance.
- Difficulty , when working from home, of separating the family living spaces from the work space, to avoid distractions. In many homes this is not physically possible; it is common to find, especially in cities, the person teleworking in the living room of the house, shared with the children’s leisure area, their partner, etc.
What problems does teleworking pose for companies?
But not only the inconveniences are for the workers. Companies are presented with a series of problems and uncertainties, which lead us to ask ourselves the following questions:
- Are companies prepared for the digital transformation that involves the increase in technological means, software, etc.? Is there sufficient security to prevent intrusion, data leakage, virus entry, etc. (cybersecurity)?
- Will the previous incorporation of a worker to the company in the teleworking modality, suppose a change in the way of hiring? Will those workers who have adequate space be chosen over others who do not, which could be discrimination in access to work?
- How do companies assess psychosocial, ergonomic or hygienic risks (lighting, noise, temperature, humidity, etc.), especially when there are several places used for teleworking? Issue that will be developed later, in the comments to RDL 28/2020.
- When the teleworker is discharged due to accident or illness, what channels exist to verify that it was actually an accident at work or an occupational disease? Or on the contrary, how can the company prove that it was not as a consequence of the work you did for it? It will be necessary to analyze each specific case , but surely it will be difficult at times to discern both issues, which will end up in court.
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