Since March 2020 and the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, work has – to a large extent – been performed within the walls of employees’ own homes, and the government still continues to encourage employees to work from home, if possible. The experiences of working from home that we have gained throughout this period, has led to the idea that something more profound and long-lasting is under way, raising fundamental questions about how we see work and where we do it. To many employers and employees, working from home is here to stay.
There is no doubt working from home has its advantages. Flexible working hours, no strict eight-to-four grind, less time (or none at all) commuting to and from the workplace, no open-plan offices and fewer interruptions. However, working from home also has its challenges. Most importantly, there is no physical separation between work and leisure time, increasing the risk of overworking. Furthermore, there are challenges associated with making sure the workers have all the equipment needed to perform essential tasks and projects, or even just a proper chair and desk. And last but not least, working from home means increased isolation and lack of a physical workplace where employees can meet, interact and learn from one another, which can have a negative influence on the employee’s well-being.
The regulations concerning work performed in the employee’s own home is from 2002. In other words, the regulations are almost 20 years old and were created at a time before the smart phone-era, Microsoft Teams and COVID-19. Because of this, discussions regarding the applicable legislation have taken place, and the conclusions from both unions and employer associations, among others, seem to be that the current legislation needs to be reviewed in order to tackle the challenges that working from home raises.
It is not yet known when the meeting that was initiated by the Minister of Labour and Social Affairs, will actually take place, but since next year in an election year (general election) it is likely that no changes to the current legislation will be formalised or implemented until after the election, which is held in September 2021.
Storeng, Beck & Due Lund ANS (SBDL) attorneys are available to assist you with these and other workplace issues. For more information on these articles or any other issues involving labour and employment matters in Norway, please contact Kari Andersen (Partner) of Storeng, Beck & Due Lund: SBDL at firstname.lastname@example.org or visit www.sbdl.no.
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