KPMG Law Senior Associate, Attorney-at-Law
KPMG Law Lawyer
Amendments to the Occupational Health Safety Act took effect on 19 November 2022, with the aim of increasing clarity for employers and employees in complying with occupational health and safety requirements in remote work (teleworking).
An employer whose employees work remotely has several obligations, including assessing the risks to employees’ health. The risk assessment must consider the nature of work, the workplace, the use of work equipment and work organisation. The employer may discuss the risks with the employee, prepare a risk assessment questionnaire, or assess risks based on photos, video recordings and other documents. The employer must prepare a risk assessment report and apply measures to avoid or mitigate potential risks and health hazards.
Another important responsibility of the employer is to instruct employees before granting permission for remote work, i.e. explain the hazards relating to the working environment, health risks and measures that should be taken to prevent damage to health. Depending on the nature of the work, the employer may need to explain safety requirements relating to the work or work equipment, ergonomic working positions and methods, personal protective equipment, electrical and fire hazards and measures to avoid environmental pollution. After receiving the instruction, employees must be able to identify and mitigate potential risks.
In addition, the employer must ensure proper work equipment for the performance of duties, pay sickness benefits if the employee falls ill and organise health checks also for remote workers.
Along with the employer’s obligations, the amended act specifies the rights and obligations of remote workers. As the employer cannot ensure safety at all workplaces used for remote work, the responsibility for ensuring a safe working environment falls primarily on remote workers themselves, who must create a safe workplace based on the employer’s instructions.
The employer is responsible for investigating occupational accidents and diseases also in case of remote work. If a remote worker’s injury has been caused by the breakage of work equipment, it will be considered an accident at work. If, on the other hand, the worker was injured while doing household duties, it will not be regarded as an occupational accident, even if it occurred during working hours. In any case, the employee must inform the employer of all work-related accidents.