Remote working: employers’ obligations

Who is responsible for accidents at while working from home?

Due to technological development and globalization, it is increasingly common for employees to carry out their work from their own homes instead of going to a physical office where they carry out their activities.

Working from home does not exempt those responsible for ensuring the safety and health of their employees. Employers have a duty of caring for all their workers, and need, as far as reasonably possible, to provide a safe working environment free from risk to the physical and mental health of their employees. This includes assessing, controlling and mitigating risks in places other than the normal workplace, such as the worker’s home during the working day. Employers should also remind employees of their duties and obligations under their employment contracts and applicable policies, in particular, those in relation to health and safety.

Although it may be difficult for employers to carry out traditional risk assessments of health and safety in a worker’s home, in the current context, it is crucial to fulfil this responsibility. In the event of an accident, the regulation applied is the same as if one was working in an office. However, for verification purposes, it can lead to conflicts because of the difficulty of carrying out an investigation of the accident, since, apart from being the place of work, it does not lose the status of home and its inviolability.

Nevertheless, it is the responsibility of the worker to present the appropriate evidence of the accident, which places him in the corresponding time and place of work. In reference to this issue, the insurance company may request a proper confirmation such as internet connection records or any other proof deemed necessary.

The employer must also provide the following irrefutable guarantees:

– Voluntary and reversible (if this option was not considered before signing the contract)

– Provide the same rights as in face-to-face work

– A minimum salary, corresponding to their professional group and functions

– Same workload and schedule as at the office.

-Right to disconnect

Who has to guarantee the safety conditions?

As we explained above, the regulatory framework infers that teleworking should not imply a reduction in the guarantees and rights of the worker.

But given that the home is the place of work, the worker himself will be responsible for the adequate maintenance of safety conditions, since he is not under the direct supervision of the employer. However, even with the difficulty of control in this environment, legally it is the employer who is obliged to watch over the safety and health of the workers. In the event of an accident, it would be considered, and this is the case, that he has violated his duty of vigilance and therefore a violation of the worker’s rights has occurred.

Are you violating the duty of vigilance? How can you prevent it?

It may be paradoxical that you are violating the duty of vigilance when the worker has not allowed you access to the home. What you should do in this case is state that you have established in the employee’s contract “the duty to collaborate with the employer and to provide them with access to employee`s home solely and exclusively for the purpose of complying with preventive legal obligations”, indicating that access will be made with due respect for the employee’s privacy, etc. Consequences of such non-compliance for disciplinary purposes also need to be specified in the contract. Given that the inviolability of the home is a constitutional right, little or nothing could be done without prejudice to the consequences it entails.

As this problem is difficult to resolve, in such circumstances it would be appropriate to record that at least an attempt has been made to evaluate the working space.

Thus, by way of summary, we could say that:

-One must guarantee effective protection in terms of health and safety.

-In order to know the risks at work, it should carry out an assessment of the workplace.

-When the place of work and home coincide, that is to say, the personal and working environment, it should respect the worker’s privacy as far as possible.

-Although the worker may deny entry to his or her home, it is also the employee’s duty to collaborate with their employer so that the latter can guarantee their safety.

-If the employee refuses to enter and investigate their home, it is recommended that this be recorded, as well as the impossibility of carrying out the evaluation or review of occupational risks and of complying in general with his or her duty of protection.

How can Digital Latam help you?

Digital Latam can guide and advise on training in safety measures and protocols, as well as in the prevention of occupational hazards. We also offer employers` training and advice on current regulations, safety measures, processes, protocols and cases of action in the event of possible occupational accidents.

Our online training courses are tailor-made – we adapt to your needs. Another advantage that distance training allows is that it does not interfere with work schedules or personal commitments and gives the possibility for everyone to learn at their own pace. Do not hesitate to contact us and we will find a solution for your concerns.

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