Although the rate of telework has been increasing over the past decade, the Covid-19 pandemic instigated an unprecedented shift towards working from home. As a result, countries urgently needed to reassess legislation concerning teleworking to protect workers from new and emerging ergonomic risks to workers’ health.
At European level, telework is regulated through the framework directive and other directives relating to working conditions (such as the Working Time Directive) and occupational safety and health (OSH). But despite this, there is no single, specific piece of legislation in the EU directly related to telework. Instead, it is regulated at national level through statutory legislation, social dialogue, and collective bargaining.
At the heart of the European approach to teleworking, however, is the EU Framework Agreement on Telework, an autonomous agreement between social partners formulated in 2002. The document provides a definition of telework as a “form of organising and/or performing work, using information technology, in the context of an employment contract/relationship, where work, which could also be performed at the employer’s premises, is carried out away from those premises on a regular basis.” In addition, it offers a clear, albeit general, overview of employers’ pre-pandemic responsibilities to teleworking staff. See the pages of EU Osha for more information.
While home-based telework has potential advantages, it can also negatively affect workers’ health and contribute to musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs), if not properly managed. Read the info sheet Preventing musculoskeletal disorders when teleworking and check out Tips for teleworkers and Tips for managers.