Working from home is set to become a legal right for employees in some jobs in the Netherlands, which could become one of the first countries to enshrine remote working in law.
The Dutch parliament’s lower house approved the legislation on Tuesday, but it still requires the green light from the Dutch senate before it can be made law.
The legislation will require employers to consider employees’ requests to work from home as long as their professions allow it.
It is widely believed that many other European countries including Germany, France and Portugal could follow suit; however, employment law experts in the UK have suggested that a similar legal right was unlikely to be introduced in the UK because working from home was already widespread.
Alexandra Carn, employment partner at Keystone Law, said: “There have been changes afoot to rights for flexible working since December 2019 when the Employment Bill was announced, but this is still waiting for sufficient Parliamentary time for its introduction.
Working from home
“Unlike the Dutch proposal, the Bill will not create a right to work from home or even a right to work flexibly. What it proposes is simply changes to the existing flexible working regime, which is in short that employees can request to work flexibly after 26 weeks’ employment. This is simply a right to request, not a right to work flexibly and an employer can refuse the request for prescribed reasons. In essence all the Bill will do is amends the existing rights by removing the service requirement and so the right would start from day one.”
However, Carn said it had become increasingly difficult for employers to refuse requests to work from home or work flexible hours post-pandemic.
“This is because so many employees worked from home and where such an arrangement has been tried and tested and found to work, an employer is not reasonably going to be able to say that it cannot comply with the request. It is that cultural change that is and will continue to have the real impact,” she said.
Organisations that have told employees to go back to the office have faced a backlash. Last month, Germany’s largest trade union challenged Elon Musk’s decision to demand Tesla workers return to the office, stating that it would support any employee that opposed him.