Whether it’s a petrol shortage, transport problems due to strikes, or the pandemic, remote working is often the solution to keep your business running smoothly. This raises the question: does the company have any obligations towards its employees in terms of the layout of the teleworking space?
Widespread use of remote working as a result of the pandemic
The health crisis forced companies to rethink their work organization when the government imposed a general lockdown.
We switched from a completely face-to-face world to the opposite, all remote. Companies had to respect these prerogatives during this critical period or risk being fined. Employees naturally became accustomed to working from home. Currently, 31% of managers work from home on average 2 days a week.
Advantages and disadvantages of remote working
Remote working is proving to be very practical, especially for employees with dependants (children, or elderly persons). It allows them to be more flexible and to adapt their schedule to their needs.
It can also be considered as empowering, since employees have to show more autonomy. Information circulates less quickly via internal messaging channels than in person. In addition, teleworking saves employees the daily stress of public transport, traffic jams and other inconveniences. It’s a real time saver.
However, remote working has its drawbacks. Employees may feel socially isolated and lose their feeling of belonging and attachment to the company. As the line between private and professional life becomes blurred when working from home, many employees admitted that they felt they were working more hours remotely than in person.
These disadvantages require better work mode management to maintain balance and keep employees efficient and productive.
Cyclical factors are changing our work habits
These are unstable times, and they sometimes bring insecurity and upheaval. France and Europe are currently experiencing an energy crisis linked to the conflict between Ukraine and Russia. This conflict has led to a sharp increase in the price of gas, electricity and, consequently, household heating. The costs incurred by teleworking employees are now higher, while their remuneration remains the same.
There is also currently a widespread strike in refineries, which has led to a shortage of diesel in French service stations. Employees had to wait for hours at the petrol pump to fill up. Some, whose jobs allowed them to do so, increased the number of days per week they worked remotely. These unintended changes in working location have also contributed to higher remote working costs for employees.
Cost of remote working – what are the obligations for companies?
Teleworking is a relatively recent concept and not all collective labour agreements have yet defined a framework for it. The obligations of employers towards their employees must therefore be defined.
According to a study by Conviction RH the average cost of working remotely is between €13 and €174 per month, depending on the profile. On 5 February 2021, the current French Prime Minister, who was then Labour Minister, stated: “remote working should not cost employees anything.”
Unfortunately, the latest national interprofessional agreement signed in 2020 does not detail the type of expenses that can be covered by the company for teleworking. However, a branch or company agreement may provide for a lump sum allowance to cover the reimbursement of expenses such as meals or the installation of a suitable workstation.
Note that this lump sum allowance is at the discretion of the employer. It is exempt from contributions by the URSSAF and, within the limits of certain amounts, does not require any supporting documents.