Work where you like

23 March 2021 – Yvette Kouwenberg

By order of the government, many people have been working from home for some time now. However, there is no legal right to work from home. Based on the legislative proposal for the Work Where You Like Act, employers will not be able to easily deny an employee’s request to work (more) at home or at the employer’s location.

1.  What does the bill entail?

If the bill is adopted, it will lead to the amendment of the existing Flexible Work Act (in Dutch abbreviated as: Wfw). The Wfw allows an employee to request for an adjustment of his scope of work, working hours and place of work. Whereas a request to change the scope of work or working hours cannot be rejected without substantial business interests, this particular requirement does not currently apply to a request to change the workplace. The employer only has to consider such a request and, in the event of rejection, the employer will have to enter into consultation with the employee. The bill for the Work Where You Like  Act aims to equalise this, so that in the future, compelling business interests will also be required in order for an employer not to agree to an employee’s request to work (more) from home or at the employer’s address.

The employer has to substantiate the serious business interests, for which the bar is set quite high. Examples of possible serious business interests are the situation in which the employee’s request would lead to serious financial, scheduling or organisational problems or safety issues.

2.  What are the general points for attention

  • In principle, the employee should be employed at least six months before the desired commencement date of the intended change;
  • The request must be made in writing and ultimately 2 months prior to the desired start date of the intended change;
  • The employer and employee shall consult with each other;
  • The employer shall respond in writing to the employee’s request ultimately one month before the intended commencement date;
  • The Wfw does not apply to employers with less than 10 employees;
  • Deviating arrangements may have been made by collective employment agreement or with the Works Council/Personnel representation;
  • The employer must provide a safe and sound (home) workplace, as is the case already.

3.  When does it take effect?

The legislative proposal was sent to the Lower House of Parliament on 27 January. Subsequently, the Senate will consider the bill. It is not yet known when it will take effect, but we will of course keep you informed. If you would like additional information about working from home, the Parker Employment Law team will be happy to assist you further.

Yvette Kouwenberg