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Holland moves to make working from home a legal right

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Holland is set to be become one of the first countries to make working from home a legal right. 

The Dutch parliament approved legislation that would allow employees to work from home on Tuesday, and the Senate is now poised to approve the bill.

Currently, employers in Holland are able to deny requests for home working without giving a reason – but under the new legislation, they will be forced to consider the requests carefully and say why they rejected the request.

During the pandemics, Holland imposed work-from-home guidelines due to soaring Covid-19 infections. This has sparked a shift in attitudes about working from the office, with many workers wanting to have flexibility in where they work. 

Holland is set to be become one of the first countries to make working from home a legal right (file image)

The legislation marks an ‘important step’ for workers, Senna Maatoug of the GroenLinks party and a co-author of the bill, said on Tuesday.

She added: ‘Due to the corona period, we have seen that hybrid working has advantages for a very large part of the employees. It gives them the opportunity to find a better work-life balance and to reduce travel time.’ 

The law aims to give employees a better work life balance and give businesses the chance to continue to ‘reap the benefits of hybrid work and not fall back into old habits’. 

Steven van Weyenberg, from the D66 party and a co-author of the bill, said it is a ‘good law for employers because a happy employee is a happy employer’. 

He added: ‘Often it is not necessary to stand in traffic for an hour to go to work. Because you don’t necessarily have to be at the office to send an email to your colleague who is two desks away. 

‘Sometimes you can concentrate extra well at home and update the administration, and then also open the door for the plumber.’

Workers in Holland are no strangers to working from home – even before the pandemic, 14 per cent of employees worked remotely, the highest rate in the EU, according to Eurostat. 

The Dutch multinational bank, ING Groep, allows employees in Holland to work 50 per cent of their time at home, excluding those at branches (file image)

The Dutch multinational bank, ING Groep, allows employees in Holland to work 50 per cent of their time at home, excluding those at branches (file image)

Dutch businesses have said continuing to allow remote working will facilitate productivity and improve worker satisfaction. 

The Dutch multinational bank, ING Groep, allows employees in Holland to work 50 per cent of their time at home, excluding those at branches. 

‘We combine the advantages of working in the office with the advantages of working from home,’ ING spokesman, Aram Goudsmit, told The Wall Street Journal.

Meanwhile, a spokesperson for Heineken NV said that its employees in Holland are able to work from home two days a week under their current hybrid model. 

The Federation of Dutch Trade Unions hailed the legislation as an important move for making workers ‘happier’.

A spokesperson told the newspaper: ‘The Covid crisis has shown that remote work can work and that workers are happier and more productive if they alternate working from home and in the office. 

‘As a trade union, we urge companies to make collective agreements on remote working.’

Other European countries have not gone so far as to make working from home a legal right, but Spain offers protection to workers who wish to work remotely. In Portugal, employers are banned from contacting employees outside working hours.

Pictured: This graphic shows the percent of people from each country responding to WFH Research's global survey of 33,000 people who said they would rather quit or search for a new job than go back to the office five days a week

Pictured: This graphic shows the percent of people from each country responding to WFH Research’s global survey of 33,000 people who said they would rather quit or search for a new job than go back to the office five days a week

The pandemic has caused a shift in how workers view working from home. 

In May, a survey found that British workers are leading the world in refusing to return to the office. 

The survey, published by Work From Home Research (WFH Research) and involving 33,000 people from across the world, shows how 23 per cent of British workers say they would rather quit or start looking for new job rather than go back to the office. 

That puts Britain above every other nation included in the survey, including the US (14.8 per cent), Russia (15.7 per cent) and China (8 per cent).

In terms of Europe, only Hungry (20 per cent) and Holland (19.6 per cent) came closest, while Britain was significantly ahead of France (11.9 per cent), Germany (14.8 per cent) and Italy (11.9 per cent) and the world-wide average of 14.58 per cent.

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