The occupational health and safety regulation related to remote work was changed
Several changes have recently been made to the Occupational Health and Safety Act, which have come into force in two stages: on 19.11.2022 and on 01.01.2023.
The aim of the amendments is to make the fulfilment of occupational health and safety requirements in case of remote work more understandable for employers and employees. The law stipulates the employer's obligations in case of remote work and specifies the employee's rights and obligations in ensuring a safe working environment. The changes take into account the limited possibilities of the employer to ensure a safe working environment in the case of remote work, insofar as the employee works outside the employer's premises (e.g. at home, in the library).
Therefore, the law outlines the employer's obligations that can and must be fulfilled in case of remote work. Such responsibilities include assessing the risks of the working environment, instructing the employee, among other things, how the employee can mitigate the risks of the working environment and create a safe working environment for herself/himself, organizing the employee's health inspection and investigating work accidents and occupational diseases.
When fulfilling the rest of the occupational health and safety obligations arising from the law, it is the employer's task to assess whether and in what way they can be fulfilled, taking into account the specifics of remote work. The employee also has the obligation to ensure the safety of her/his work environment, based on the instructions given by the employer.
A special provision dedicated to remote work was added to the law (§ 13.5 “Obligations of employer in case of remote work”).
Pursuant to this new provision an employer is required to:
1) set out in the risk assessment of the working environment possible risks arising from the nature of work and, considering the particular nature of remote work, apply measures for preventing or reducing an employee’s health risks;
2) instruct an employee before permitting remote work and on a regular basis as needed considering the particular nature of remote work;
3) ensure proper work equipment for performance of duties;
4) organise medical examinations of employees according to the provisions of § 13.1 of the same act;
5) investigate occupational accidents and occupational diseases on general grounds similarly to any other occupational accidents and occupational diseases;
6) pay sickness benefit on general grounds similarly to other employees.
In case of remote work, the workplace is furnished according to the agreement between the employee and the employer.
Occupational health service in cases of remote work is organised on a regular bases
As provisions § 13.1 (“Occupational health service”) of the Occupational Health and Safety Act apply also in cases of remote work, it means that the employer must organise provision of an occupational health service provided by an occupational health doctor, who:
1) reviews the risk assessment of the working environment and, where necessary, visits the working environment;
2) analyses the company’s occupational health situation as a whole;
3) carries out a medical examination of employees on the basis of the risk assessment of the working environment;
4) makes proposals to the employer for improving the working conditions and promoting the health of employees;
5) consults the employer in issues of adapting the working environment and working conditions and promoting the health of employees;
6) consults an employee in issues of health promotion.
A medical examination is to be organised for an employee whose health may be affected, as a result of assessment of risks in the working environment, among others, by work with display screen equipment.
The employer must organise the medical examination of an employee within four months as of the time the employee commences work. If within the past six months the employee has had a medical examination as to the same working environment hazards and the same nature of work while working for another employer, the employer may organise a medical examination at the time stated in the medical examination decision produced by the employee.
The employer must organise the medical examination of an employee at the interval set by an occupational health doctor but at least once every three years. The analysis of the company’s occupational health situation is organised by the employer on a regular basis as needed but no less than once every three years.
The employer must cover the costs related to provision of the occupational health service. A medical examination of employees must be carried out during working time and the employee must be paid average working day wage during such time.
The employer is to apply the occupational health doctor’s proposals for improving the working environment and working conditions and promoting the health of employees, unless this brings about disproportionately high costs for the employer. Where necessary, the employer is to add the proposals to the risk assessment action plan.
The occupational health doctor sends the employer an employee’s health data that are indispensable to the employer for improving the working environment and working conditions and promoting the health of employees and that are directly related to the above activities. The employer has no right to receive information about diagnoses.