Governments Get Serious About Remote Workers’ Rights

Has the pandemic made you want to work from home long-term? If so, all you have to do is wait until you’ve been in your job for six months and then ask. Then wait up to three months for your company to reply.

Doesn’t sound ideal, does it?


The right to flexible working


Thankfully, the government is stepping in. It is consulting on new proposals to give employees the right to request flexible working from their first day on the job – and to ensure that companies reply faster than the current three-month maximum response period.

Under the new proposals, companies would have to provide a reason for refusing requests for flexible working, which they are not currently obliged to do.

The news will be welcomed by those who have embraced working remotely during the pandemic. But is the UK leading the field when it comes to standing up for remote workers? Far from it, according to James Moir, Director of Operations at Work Here, Work There:

“The new proposals are a step in the right direction, but many other countries are already way out ahead of the UK on this. Many people can be happier and more productive when working at home. I’m not sure that concept is fully grasped here yet.”


Portugal leads the world


Portugal is a leading voice when it comes to enshrining remote workers’ rights in law. The country has made it illegal for businesses to contact staff outside of their working hours. Emailing a staff member out of hours could result in fines, while companies also have to pay for expenses such as electricity and internet for staff working from home.

Staff have the legal right to work from home until their children turn eight. There is also a ban on companies monitoring workers’ productivity outside the office, as well as a requirement for bi-monthly face-to-face meetings to combat loneliness.

“Remote working can be of huge benefit to companies that structure it well, as well as to their employees,” concludes Moir. “The sooner the UK embraces this, the more competitive we will be in this new pandemic era.”