Due to current coronavirus measures, up to 30 percent of Czechs are now working from home, according to a study conducted by the Research Institute of Labor and Social Affairs based on initiatives from the Union of Employers’ Associations of the Czech Republic.
The study reports that the main benefits of working from home for employers are reduced operating costs per job (rent, energy, and equipment), reduced absenteeism and incapacity for work, increased employee loyalty, and thus reduced turnover and expanded employability of highly-qualified workers residing further from their employer.
The biggest benefits for employees, on the other hand, include minimizing the time spent commuting to the employer’s workplace and a better way to reconcile personal, family, and work life. Another advantage is the expansion of opportunities to get a job for people with disabilities or those who provide care for other members of the household.
Normally, 4 to 8 percent of employees work from home in the Czech Republic, but the trends wrought by coronavirus could mark a permanent shift for more and more workers on a global scale.
One of the biggest barriers for Czech employers is the fact that they have the same obligations to employees working from home regarding safety and health as to employees working at a workplace.
“The employer does not have the right to enter and carry out inspections in the employee’s private premises and cannot in any way directly influence the form and equipment of the work environment located outside his workplace,” said Jiří Horecký, the president of the union.
Employers thus point out the illegitimacy of the requirement of liability for compliance with the obligation of the employees’ protection.
In nine selected European countries, including Germany, Finland, Norway, France, as well as the Czech Republic, the laws do not establish an employee’s right to work from home, nor does it impose an obligation on the employer to allow work outside the workplace.
In the case of work performed by an employee outside the workplace, the employer cannot secure the places where he performs the work.
“It is, therefore, a legitimate requirement that if an employee is interested in working from home, he should bear the duties and part of the responsibility in occupational safety himself,” Horecký added. Therefore, he rejects the idea of widespread implementation of work from home possibilities.
Other disadvantages of working from home include increased demands for changes in work organization. The risk also lies in another form of control over the employee’s work. For an employee, the negative effects associated with performing work outside the workplace may include loss of social contacts with other colleagues, poor working time arrangements, or inability to differentiate between working and non-working parts of the day.
Title image: View of an empty classroom at a closed school in Prague, Czech Republic, Wednesday, Oct. 14, 2020. Amid widespread efforts to curb the new wave of coronavirus infections in one of the hardest hit European countries, the Czech Republic closed again all its schools on Wednesday. (AP Photo/Petr David Josek)