Spain and Colombia are adapting their legislation to remote work
Starting 2020, the Covid-19 pandemic has led to the massive implementation of remote work globally. In order to limit the possible occurrence of legal problems, in many countries, this issue has been resolved by trying to apply the existing legislation.
For example, in California, according to the Labour Code, employers are required to compensate employees for all necessary expenses that are a direct response to the performance of their duties (frequently discussed in the context of remote work).
However, when we talk about other states, governments have introduced special laws to regulate remote work due to the growing popularity of this concept. Therefore, the following article presents the key elements of the new provisions on remote work adopted by two countries sharing a common history: Spain and Colombia.
What is the definition of remote work in Spain?
According to the Royal Decree 28/2020, remote work involves providing services from home, or another place, at the employee’s choice. At the same time, work-related activities must be carried out in this way for at least 30% of the working hours, over a three-month period.
Can the employer force staff work remotely?
The above-mentioned normative act states that the answer is no. Despite the fact that teleworking might be enforced by separate laws and decrees in the future, for the time being, remote work agreements are entirely voluntary.
Read more here about the Spanish digital nomad visa.
What are the main rights that remote employees have?
In principle, remote employees have the same rights as the employees who choose to work from the office. In other words, the very purpose of the remote Spanish law is to ensure that the employment labour rights are properly applied in the remote environment, including freedom from discrimination and equal employment opportunity.
The remote work agreement
Central to the new law is an obligation for both parties to conclude a written agreement setting out remote work conditions. Also, a copy of this document shall be deposited at the Labour Office. In addition, the agreement comes up with some mandatory clauses, including:
- the location of work tasks (for example, does the employee have the right to work part of the day from a cafe / in a coworking space or from his/her home office only?);
- the contract duration;
- the agreed working schedule and when the employee will be available;
- employee control and/or monitoring (for instance, will remote monitoring software be required?);
- the employee’s right to” disconnect” at a certain time of day;
- health and safety in the remote workplace.
Initially, in Colombia, remote work was provided as a temporary and transitional arrangement allowing people to work this way without all the legal requirements associated between employers and employees. Subsequently, the authorities considered it appropriate to regulate a remote legal framework.
What are the obligations of Colombian employers?
According to Law 2121, when we discuss remote work arrangements, employers must cover the maintenance of equipment, internet connection, programs, and energy costs.
At the same time, employers have a duty to provide the technical equipment that workers need to perform their work tasks. However, as an exception, the parties may agree for computer equipment to be supplied by the employee.
What are the key legal issues?
The legal framework drafted by the Colombian administration sets out specific requirements for the conclusion of remote employment relationships, hence:
- the option for remote work must be agreed upon by both parties;
- the working method will be maintained throughout the entire employment contract;
- the regulation applies to Colombian residents, individuals, or legal entities (including foreign companies that hire people of different nationalities);
- the manifestation of consent requires the use of a digital electronic signature, through codes, passwords, biometric data, or private cryptographic keys, which identifies a person (the technology must be provided by the employer);
- the law does not establish a specific place of execution, nevertheless, the employee’s workspace must have a permanent internet connection and must be established by mutual agreement and approved by the Occupational Hazards Administrators (ARL).