What does this mean for remote working?
Remote working will now only be allowed if the employer and employee agree to it in writing. Any existing, informal remote working agreements must be documented by the end of October. It is only in exceptional circumstances that an employer can unilaterally impose remote working (e.g. during a pandemic). The standard position is that remote working agreements can be brought to an end by either the employee or employer on 15 days’ written notice.
In terms of costs associated with remote working, employers may choose whether to: cover the costs actually incurred; provide a lump sum payment to cover the costs; or to cover no or only some of the costs, if agreed with the employee. Alongside documenting the remote working agreement, it’s also recommended that employers put in place a remote working policy.
How has an employer’s information obligation changed?
Employers must now notify employees of certain additional employment terms within 7 days of the start of their employment, including (but not limited to) relating to their probation period, their notice period and the termination procedures. If an employee is expected to work abroad, special information obligations apply. Existing employees only need to be given the additional information if they request it. Employers should update their relevant onboarding templates to ensure the additional information is captured.
Can employment documents now be signed electronically?
Certain key employment documents such as the employment agreement (and any amendments) and termination agreements can now be signed electronically, provided a copy is sent to the employee’s private email address (as shared by the employee). Unilateral documents such as a notice of termination must still be given to the employee by hand, unless the employee has agreed to receive them electronically, in which case, certain other requirements must also be met. There is no longer a requirement for employees to acknowledge receipt in order for e-documents to be validly delivered. Employers should review and potentially update, their internal processes for signing and delivering employment documents, in light of the new changes.
What enhanced rights to protected employees have?
If protected employees (pregnant women and employees caring for a child under 9 or dependents) requests flexible (e.g. reduced hours) or remote working and their request is refused, their employer must provide written justification for such refusal. Flexible working requests can only be refused for serious operational reasons.
So, what should employers do now?
Employers should familiarise themselves with the new requirements under the updated Labour Code and review and update their internal processes and employment documentation to ensure compliance.
If you need any support with this or would like any further information, please get in touch with a member of the MDR ONE team.