Do's and Don'ts when working from home in times of corona

06 Apr 2020

As a result of the government measures concerning the corona virus, the majority of Dutch employees work from home. In principle, the rules on working from home also apply during the corona crisis.

Aimée Peterse, Marieke ten Broeke

Due to the exceptional circumstances that currently exist, a number of points for attention apply. 

1. Furnishing the workplace: On the basis of the law, the employer must ensure an ergonomic workplace. The question is whether it is feasible at the moment to have employees' home offices completely ergonomically furnished. It follows from the law that the obligation to provide an ergonomically designed workplace does not apply if the employer cannot reasonably be expected to do so. It is very plausible that employers of employees who suddenly have to work from home due to the corona crisis, and normally never do so, cannot reasonably be held to the requirement of an ergonomic workplace. For example, an employer in severe financial distress due to the corona virus cannot be expected to free up a budget for the purchase of expensive office chairs to use for a (hopefully) very short period of time. However, it is important that an employer does as much as is reasonably possible. For example, instructing employees or having employees take an extra computer screen home for the period of working from home.

2. Psychosocial workload: Employers are obliged to ensure that the psychosocial workload of employees is not too high. Therefore, pay close attention to the psychosocial workload. Employees who structurally work from home can unnoticed be exposed to an excessive workload, for example as a result of having to work from home in combination with taking care of their children. It is therefore advisable for employers to maintain regular contact with their employees in order to find out how things are going.

3. Physical workload: Employers must ensure that their employees work safely. When an employee works from home, it is not as easy for the employer to check whether an employee is taking sufficient breaks or sitting at a desk with good posture. Employers should therefore instruct their employees well on these matters. In doing so, employers can make use of the tips published by the Ministry of Social Affairs and Employment.

4. Privacy & digital safety: The Dutch Data Protection Authority (“Autoriteit Persoonsgegevens”) has provided a few tips on safe working from home during the corona crisis. For example, employees are advised to work as much as possible with their employer's equipment (and not, for example, their private computer). The Authority also gives tips on the safe storage of sensitive documents and being alert on phishing emails. Employers would do well to think about the safety policy with regard to working from home during the corona crisis and to instruct their employees accordingly.