Social partner agreement opens the way for telework

The agreement on the legal framework for telework was concluded between the social partners in February 2006. It represents the first set of regulations on telework in Luxembourg, in addition to being the first agreement by the national social partners in the area of interprofessional social dialogue.

The social partner agreement on the legal framework for telework (in French), signed on 21 February 2006, is particularly significant as it represents the first agreement to be concluded and implemented by the employer and worker organisations without having to go through the full process of collective bargaining. It thus inaugurates the new procedure introduced by the collective industrial relations act of 30 June 2004. This procedure enables the national social partners to sign agreements – particularly at national or interprofessional level – that are distinct from collective agreements. These agreements can subsequently be declared to constitute a general obligation for all companies based in Luxembourg and the workers employed in them.

Basis of the agreement

The agreement was signed by the Union of Luxembourg Enterprises (Union des Entreprises Luxembourgeoises, UEL) and two trade unions: the Luxembourg Confederation of Independent Trade Unions (Onofhängegen Gewerschaftsbond Lëtzebuerg, OGB-L) and the Christian Trade Union Confederation (Lëtzebuerger Chrëschtleche Gewerkschafts-Bond, LCGB). See the social partners’ joint press release (in French) of 10 March 2006.

The new regulations represent the implementation at national level of the framework agreement on telework (109Kb PDF) signed by the European social partners on 16 July 2002 (EU0207204F).

The social partners in Luxembourg define telework as a form of work characterised by three criteria, namely:

  • the use of information and communication technologies (ICT) is a key element of the work;
  • the work is carried out away from the employer’s premises;
  • the work is generally of a regular and habitual nature.

Regime applicable to telework

Worker representatives must be informed and consulted about the introduction of telework and any modifications that are made to it.

The teleworker’s contract must stipulate all of the specific details associated with his/her situation and in particular the location from which he/she will engage in telework. Teleworkers must not suffer any discrimination due to their status, for example in relation to remuneration or access to promotion and training.

As a general rule, the employer provides, installs and maintains the equipment needed for telework, and also provides the necessary technical support. The teleworker is informed of the company’s policy on occupational health and safety, and is required to apply the rules properly, particularly in relation to the proper use of visual display units.

Moreover, the employer will undertake measures to ensure the protection of the data used and processed by the teleworker for professional purposes.

Transition between regimes

The agreement sets out the arrangements for the transition to telework and back to a traditional employment contract. It also defines the practical aspects of telework. The transition requires an amendment to the employment contract and thus may not be imposed unilaterally. The employer and employee have an adjustment period (of three to 12 months) during which they are entitled to return to the traditional working formula. During the first 15 days, the employer or employee can revert their decision unilaterally, by either one giving written notification by hand delivery or via registered post.

If an employee exercises the right to revert to the traditional way of work during the adjustment period, this may not be used as grounds for dismissal. When the adjustment period is over, a return to the traditional contract is only possible on the basis of an agreement between the two parties, with the new employment conditions being set out in the contract.

Commentary

The new agreement on telework will apply to all private sector employees for a period of three years, as soon as it has been declared to constitute a general obligation. However, it should be noted that the consequences of telework for the social security status of cross-border workers and the tax treatment of their salary are not covered in the agreement. The social partners chose to leave it to the legislators to deal with this point.

Further information

See also the social partner agreement on telework in France, signed in November 2005 (FR0606NU06).

Odette Wlodarski, Prevent

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