NOS News•today, 06:27•Changed today, 08:53
Shaking hands or standing close to each other, we have been doing it again since the abolition of the corona measures. But braving the wind and weather every day to work in the office is still a big step. In 2022, 45 percent of employees still worked (partly) from home.
Today the Senate will vote on the new working from home law, which makes it easier for employees to make agreements about this. The initiative law of GroenLinks and D66 was already adopted in the House of Representatives on July 5 with a large majority of 125 votes in favor.
It is actually a seal of what is already happening, says labor market expert Ton Wilthagen. “Most employees and employers can reach an agreement when it comes to working from home, but this law does give employees some support if it doesn’t work out.”
If the ‘Work where you want’ initiative law is adopted, employers cannot simply reject a request to work from home, but only for reasons based on ‘reasonableness and fairness’. Requests about working from home are then looked at in the same way as wishes to work more or less.
Employers’ organization VNO-NCW already sees that many companies have made agreements about working from home. “This is going very well,” says spokesperson Mieke Ripken. “I don’t know how often the law will actually be necessary.”
The law is lighter for employers due to the wording of ‘reasonableness and fairness’ than the previous proposal under which requests could only be rejected if there were ‘compelling business interests’. Ripken: “This is very important to us. It ensures more balance between the interests of employers and employees.”
Annet de Lange, professor by special appointment of work and organizational psychology, thinks it is positive that flexibility is being defined more. “Then you are supported by the law as an employee of employers, who still have very variable approaches to working from home.”
Working from home has many advantages according to De Lange. Research shows that a greater sense of independence leads to higher productivity and that it is good for work-life balance. In addition, it is more sustainable because you do not participate in traffic.
“The average figures are positive,” says De Lange. “But we also see vulnerable groups, such as young people, where there is a risk of loss of productivity if not enough support from the employer is organised.”
Are you responsible for hearing damage if employees work at home in a noisy environment?
Ton Wilthagen, labor market expert
And there is a major point that is ignored in the law, says Wilthagen. When you work from home, you are out of the employer’s sight, while he is responsible for your work situation at home.
“I notice that entrepreneurs wonder whether it is right that they should be responsible for a place that they never see. For example, are you responsible for hearing damage if employees work at home in a noisy environment? Or work in a bad position at the dining table ?”
Childcare and informal care
Marjet Winsemius of the Stichting Voor Werkende Ouders Foundation is positive about the law. She often sees employers backtracking on work-from-home moves. “So it’s a good idea to anchor this.”
Especially because it has helped many parents in times of staff shortages at childcare. “Now you see that agreements are being made, but the requirement is often that you come to the office on Mondays and Tuesdays. Those are exactly the days on which there is often no childcare.”
The same applies to informal care. “There is a generation of workers who take care of other generations.” With the increasing aging population, she believes it is good that there are more options for working from home.
It is still a matter of whether the law will be passed in the Senate, where the relations are different than in the House of Representatives. The party with the most seats, BBB, has indicated that it will vote against the law, as has PVV, among others.
In any case, the initiators GroenLinks/PvdA and D66 will vote for the law, just like the CDA. The VVD did not yet want to say how the vote will take place.